T.H. Breen is the author of The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America, published last September.
 (February 2020)


‘There Was a Boston Once’

John Smibert: A View of Boston, 1738

The City-State of Boston: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Power, 1630–1865

by Mark Peterson
During the 1850s Boston’s belief that it held a special place in the history of the United States came to a sudden and humiliating end. No longer could one describe it as a City on a Hill, as the beacon of political and religious liberty founded by Puritan settlers in …

Founding Frenemies

Thomas Jefferson; painting by Maira Kalman. It and the painting of John Adams on page 70 are from her book Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything, published in 2014.

Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

by Gordon S. Wood
In the contest with Thomas Jefferson for popularity, John Adams had no chance. The fault was almost entirely his own. Even friends found Adams’s irascibility, vanity, and pomposity embarrassing. Enemies had far worse things to say about the second president. During the run-up to the bitterly fought election of 1800, …

Camping with Honest George

George Washington’s war tent, on display at the Museum of the American Revolution
Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution gives visitors a sense of the personal sacrifice and frustrated aspirations of those who saw the Revolution as an opportunity to achieve personal liberty.

Our Insurgency: From Concord to Bunker Hill

‘Bunkers Hill or America’s Head Dress’; an English satirical engraving on the narrow British victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill, 1776

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution

by Nathaniel Philbrick
A recent publication by the United States Army provides surprising insight into the origins of the American Revolution. Field Service Manual 3-24, released in 2006 and apparently the brainchild of General David Petraeus, explains how in the future the military might devise more effective counterinsurgency strategies. Successful counterinsurgency operations, of …

The Vigilantes of Vermont

Ethan Allen capturing Fort Ticonderoga, May 1775; nineteenth-century engraving

Ethan Allen: His Life and Times

by Willard Sterne Randall
Like many ambitious people, Ethan Allen felt certain that his life contained the stuff of legend. A prolific writer and shameless self-promoter, Allen made much of his rise from a restless youth to revolutionary leader. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1738, he joined thousands of hard-working New Englanders in moving …

New World Symphony

The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction

by Bernard Bailyn

Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution

by Bernard Bailyn, with the assistance of Barbara DeWolfe
By the middle of the eighteenth century the British appeared to be losing control of the American colonies. Too many people were multiplying too rapidly; they were dispersed over territory too vast for its British administrators to comprehend. During the years before independence the men who ran the empire tried …

Right Man, Wrong Place

The Complete Works of Captain John Smith (1580–1631)

edited by Philip L. Barbour
The conquest of North America brought fame to Elizabethans who otherwise would surely have died in obscurity. Because they took a chance on colonization, modern schoolchildren now memorize their names. This motley group included gentlemen down on their luck, courtiers hoping to catch the monarch’s eye, mercenaries eager for booty, …