Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

The blog of the Huntington Library has an informative post on the recently published The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution, edited by Edward Gray and Jane Kamensky.  (You can buy a copy on Amazon for $150.00, but if the good people at Oxford Press were to send me a review copy I would be happy to do a blog series here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home).  The handbook includes thirty-three essays on the American Revolution written by leading scholars in the field, including Michael Zuckerman, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ray Raphael, Ben Irvin, Mark Peterson, Allan Kulikoff, Jane Merritt, Gary Nash, Sarah Pearsall, Edward Larkin, Paul Mapp, Stephen Mihm, Terry Bouton, Susan Juster, Eric Slauter, Christopher Brown, Eliga Gould, Rosemarie Zagarri, Graham Hodges, and J.M. Opal.  The coverage extends into the early republic.

According to the Huntington blog post,  Gray and Kamensky write that scholarly works on the American Revolution have been declining over the past twenty-five years even as popular biographies of the founding fathers and the  American Revolution are on the rise.  This confirms some things I have been thinking in the past couple of weeks as I spend time on my own project on the American Revolution.

Just yesterday I was reading Joseph Tiedemann's 1988 Journal of American History article: "Revolution Foiled: Queens County, New York, 1775-1776."  It is an excellent study of the American Revolution in one local community. As I read the piece, I also thought about Sung Bok Kim's "The Limits of Politicization in the American Revolution: The Experience of Westchester County, New York, JAH 1993, Francis Fox's Sweet Land of Liberty: The Ordeal of the American Revolution in Northampton County, PA (2003), Liam Riordan's Many Identities, One Nation: The Revolution and its Legacy in the Mid-Atlantic, Marjoleine Kars's Breaking Loose Together: The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina, and a host of other essays and monographs that fleshed out the experience of the Revolution on the ground.  (I am sure I am missing many others).   Are people still doing this kind of local scholarship on the American Revolution?

As part of the publication of this landmark book, Gray and Kamensky staged a conference at The Huntington on British perceptions of the Revolution.  You can listen to some of the presentations from that conference here.