Resources on the American Revolution
The resources listed below include a reading list that is an excerpt from a bibliography compiled by author and scholar Dr. Peter Gibbon, history teacher Joan Musbach, and librarian Christine Parker.
Adler, David A. B. Franklin, Printer. New York: Holiday House, 2001. Despite the title, which is taken from an epitaph Franklin wrote for himself, this appealing biography warmly embraces every fascinating aspect of its many faceted subject. The design and organization is similar to Adler’s George Washington: An Illustrated Biography and the two appear to be companion works.
Adler, David A. George Washington: An Illustrated Biography. New York: Holiday House, 2004. Lengthy, but highly readable, this engaging biography, a companion volume to B. Franklin, Printer, includes primary source material and is equally a history of colonial times.
Aronson, Marc. John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, and the Land of Promise. New York: Clarion Books, 2004. Aronson looks for the seeds of religious freedom and democratic ideas in 17th century British political and religious turmoil. A clash between King Charles and religious zealots lead Cromwell to challenge the monarchy in England and John Winthrop to lead a large group of Puritans to the new world to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Bober, Natalie S. Thomas Jefferson: Draftsman of a Nation. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2007. Building on her earlier biography, Thomas Jefferson: Man on a Mountain, the author explores the influences that molded Jefferson in greater depth, but retains her engaging look at Jefferson’s family, friends, and private life. This is a more sophisticated work than the first biography of Jefferson, but is still accessible to middle school students.
Bobrick, Benson. Fight for Freedom: The American Revolutionary War. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. In this handsome over-sized volume brief essays cover important events and people. The very readable text is matched page for page with reproductions of relevant paintings, maps, or engravings. Boxes in the margins review quick facts. This title and others in the series are notable for their clarity, brevity, and attractiveness.
Cooper, Michael. Jamestown, 1607. New York: Holiday House, 2007. This history of Jamestown covers the years 1606-1609 and heavily draws on accounts written by several inhabitants, in particular, the journals of John Smith. The uncomplicated text is illustrated with reproductions of artwork by John White, who was a governor of the colony, and documented life on the island in extraordinary drawings and watercolors. Cooper does not include information on the most recent archeological discoveries.
Fleming, Thomas. Liberty! The American Revolution. New York: Viking, 1997. This thorough, but easily read work, is a companion volume to the PBS television series with the same name. Fleming, who is interested in the diversity of people involved in the struggle for independence, includes information about everyday life and the contributions of little known participants.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell. The Founders: The 39 Stories Behind the U.S. Constitution. New York: Walker & Company, 2005. The introduction of this straightforward, compact title discusses the issues and controversies involved in writing and approving the Constitution. Subsequent chapters devoted to each of the thirteen original states feature brief biographies of the signers. The text of the Constitution is appended and the book is illustrated with black and white drawings.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell. The Signers: The Fifty-Six Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence. New York: Walker, 2002. Similar in format to The Founders, this earlier title profiles each of the thirteen colonies and provides short biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. A copy of the Declaration is included and black and white drawings of the signers illustrate the text.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell. Samuel Adams: The Father of American Independence. New York: Walker, 2002. The main focus of this biography is Adams’s single-minded effort to further the cause of independence and his central role as a revolutionary and advocate of freedom. Solidly researched, the narrative reflects the heady excitement of the times and it is illustrated with cartoons, paintings, engravings, letters, and other period materials.
Freedman, Russell. Give Me Liberty!: The Story of the Declaration of Independence. New York: Holiday House, 2000. With clarity and a storyteller’s dramatic flair, the author rekindles the events that lead to the writing of a historic and revolutionary document. He begins with the colonies’ troubled relationship with Britain, covers important events beginning with the Boston Tea Party and ending with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, discusses the document’s author and concludes with an analysis of the document itself.
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: From Colonies to Country, 1735-1791. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. The third volume in Hakim’s series highlights Britain’s problems in the new world by first discussing the Peter Zenger Case, Oglethorpe’s march into Florida during the War of Jenkin’s Ear, and the French and Indian War. Her narrative ends with the Constitutional Convention.
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: The First Americans, Prehistory to 1600. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Hakim’s background in teaching and journalism are evident in her effort to make history fresh and immediate. Her writing style is informal and conversational and she makes frequent use of sidebars and boxes to break up the text. This volume is the first in a series of ten volumes covering the history of the United States, or read differently, us. It begins with early hunter-gatherers and ends with the founding of the first English settlement on Roanoke Island. An eleventh volume contains reprints of American documents.
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies, 1600-1740. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. This second volume in Hakim’s series covers the settling of the thirteen colonies from the founding of Jamestown to the exodus of settlers to lands on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains.
History Channel Presents The Revolution. 13 part video series, 2006. From the roots of the rebellion and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to victory on the battlefield at Yorktown and the adoption of The United States Constitution, The Revolution tells he remarkable story of this important era in history. Venturing beyond the conventional list of generals and politicians, The History Channel introduces the full range of individuals who helped shape this great conflict, including some of the war's most influential unsung heroes.
Irvin, Benjamin H. Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. This well-written biography is recommended for advanced readers. The author provides an impressive amount of information about a pivotal personality in the American Revolution, characterizing Adams as someone who was very protective of his privacy and speculating on his failure to capture the popular imagination.
Jarrow, Gail. Printer’s Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2006. Jarrow’s narrative describes how Andrew Hamilton successfully took on the case of a young immigrant printer brought to trial in 1735 for publishing commentary critical of the British Governor of New York. Hamilton argued convincingly that the press has a right to criticize the government. Primary source materials enliven the analytical text and tie the narrative to supporting documents.
Josephy, Alvin, M. Jr. 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American History. New York: Gramercy (an imprint of Random House,) 2002. This comprehensive title, written in conjunction with a 1995 PBS series, provides information about all North American Indian tribes from pre-Columbian times to the present.
Lange, Karen E. 1607: A New Look at Jamestown. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2007. 1607 is an over-sized picture book, but the text is for an older audience than the format suggests. Color photographs of actors in period dress reenacting the life of the settlement illustrate the text. The narrative draws on new scholarship and recent archeological findings.
Marrin, Albert. Empires Lost and Won: The Spanish Heritage in the Southwest. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004. Beginning his story with 17th century explorers and ending with the U.S-Mexican War in the 19th century, the author tells a thrilling tale of those who fought to control the American southwest in the hope of personal gain.
Marrin, Albert. George Washington and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Dutton, 2001. Crammed with information, this lengthy biography is at its best when describing Washington’s military career. The author covers every aspect of Washington’s life including the forces that shaped his character and his participation in the fight for independence.
Murphy, Jim. A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy. New York: Clarion Books, 1996. Joseph Plumb Martin served in the revolutionary army for seven years, from 1776 when he was fifteen, until the war ended in 1783. His memoir, an eyewitness account of the American Revolution, forms the basis for this biography.
Nash, Gary B. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Using a very different perspective than most historians of the American Revolution, Nash organizes his discussion around the places where important events occurred. A chapter is devoted to each site, all of them listed in the National Historic Register. The narrative is illustrated with maps, documents, paintings, and contemporary photographs.
Rhodehamel, John H. (Editor) The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence. Library of America, 2001. Editor Rhodehamel, the Norris Foundation Curator of American History at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, has assembled a comprehensive collection of over 120 pieces by more than 70 Revolution-era writers from both sides of the War of Indepedence.
Severance, John B. Thomas Jefferson: Architect of Democracy. New York: Clarion, 1988. Concentrating primarily on Jefferson as a public figure, the author discusses Jefferson’s ideas and accomplishments, in particular, his actions during the American Revolutionary War period and his founding of the University of Virginia.
Schmidt, Gary D. William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991. The inviting prose of this biography of Bradford also covers the Separatists’ cause, their move to the Netherlands, their efforts to find passage to the new world, and the founding of the Plymouth Colony.
Schmittroth, Linda and Mary Kay Rosteck. American Revolution: Biographies. Detroit: UXL, 2000. This reference work, part of a four volume set, called The American Revolution Reference Library, includes profiles of sixty people, British and American, who played key roles in the American Revolutionary War.
Schmittroth, Linda. American Revolution: Primary Resources. Detroit: UXL, 2000. The fourth volume of The American Reference Library contains excerpts from Revolutionary War documents, including The Declaration of Independence, The Stamp Act, and The Intolerable Acts, and commentaries on them.
Smith, Carter, editor. Arts and Sciences: A Sourcebook on Colonial America Washington, DC: Library of Congress, dist. by Brook Field, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991.
Smith, Carter, editor. Battles in a New Land: A Sourcebook on Colonial America Washington, DC: Library of Congress, dist. by Brook Field, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991.
Smith, Carter, editor. Daily Life: A Sourcebook on Colonial America Washington, DC: Library of Congress, dist. by Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991.
Smith, Carter, editor. The Explorers and Settlers: A Sourcebook on Colonial America Washington, DC: Library of Congress, dist. by Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991.
Smith, Carter, editor. Governing and Teaching: A Sourcebook on Colonial America Washington, DC: Library of Congress, dist. by Brook Field, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991.
The five titles in this series use documents from America’s past, timelines, and brief narrative accounts to summarize broad topics in colonial North American history.
St. George, Judith. John & Abigail Adams: An American Love Story. New York: Holiday House, 2001. Often apart, John and Abigail Adams depended on letters to help sustain their long and remarkable marriage. The author draws on these letters to shed light on their personalities, devoted relationship, and political partnership.
West, Delano and Jean M. West. Braving the North Atlantic: The Vikings, the Cabots, and Jacques Cartier. New York: Atheneum, 1996. Organized chronologically, this very helpful overview of the explorers who found North America in their search for a new world includes the 10th and 11th century Scandinavians, Cabot and other European explorers of the 15th century, and explorers sailing for France in the 16th century.