This semester I am teaching a graduate seminar on the American Revolutionary Era. As I have written before, choosing a book list for a graduate course is not as simple as picking 13 to 15 of your favorite books on a topic. When assigning books, I take several factors into account – inexpensive editions (usually paperbacks); “classics” in the field; new and seemingly important titles (some of which I may not have read yet either); breadth of topical coverage; one of my own books (when relevant); and some extra weight to my research interests in religion and culture.
Here’s my list of books for this semester – some weeks we only read articles and book chapters, such as a week on Native Americans and the Revolution where we’re reading 4 articles instead of a book. I also typically pair an article from a history journal with each book, to make for better coverage and comparative discussions.
Gordon Wood, The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library, 2002)
Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, 2011)
Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution rev. ed. (Harvard, 1992)
Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2010)
T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (Oxford, 2005)
James Byrd, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution (Oxford, 2013)
Peter Onuf, The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Virginia, 2007)
Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf, 2013)
Sarah Knott, Sensibility and the American Revolution (UNC, 2009)
Brendan McConville, The King’s Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 (UNC, 2007)
Jane Landers, Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions (Harvard, 2011)
If you are interested in reading more about the American Revolution, but not ready for a graduate reading list, I might suggest that you take a look at Jasanoff (a brilliant examination of the Loyalists); Bailyn (a classic account of the republican ideas about liberty and power that drove the Revolution); and Byrd (a remarkable study of how friends and foes of the Revolution actually used the Bible to support their cause). [I will forbear commenting on God of Liberty!] Wood is an excellent short overview, but you should also read his celebrated book The Radicalism of the American Revolution.
Of course, one of my great pleasures in teaching such a course is interacting with our fabulous cohort of Master’s and Ph.D. students at Baylor, who always help me understand the texts better than I could have on my own.
Friends, you can sign up here for my Thomas S. Kidd author newsletter. Each newsletter will update you on what’s happening in the world of American religious and political history, and current events. It will contain unique material available only to subscribers, and each will help you keep up with my blog posts, books, and other writings from around the web. [Your e-mail information will never be shared.] Thanks!