“Rev War Revelry” Author Interview: Christian McBurney

The hottest part of the hotttest temperature engagement in the American Revolution happened on June 28, 1778 at Monmouth Court House in New Jersey. The portion that gets the most attention out of this entire battle was the supposedly heated exchange between General George Washington and his second-in-command, General Charles Lee.

What ensued was the end of an American military career, as Lee would face a court martial, a suspension from duty, and a fall into obscurity. Historians have sorted through the primary sources of the time period to reconstruct what exactly happened on that balmy June day.

Yet, for the first time, a dedicated study, from the lens of both a historian and a practicing attorney, brings into focus the details of that fateful day in New Jersey. That topic, his new book, and historian Christian McBurney will be the focal point of this week’s “Rev War Revelry” as a Facebook live, this Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.

McBurney, an attorney in Washington D.C. and president of the George Washington American Revolution Round Table of Washington D.C. will speak on his latest publication, George Washington’s Nemesis, The Outrageous Treason and Unfair Court Martial of Major General Charles Lee during the Revolutionary War. This book is one of five that McBurney has written on the subject of the American Revolution.

For more information on those books, click here. To read up or read the synopsis of the book at the center of the historian happy hour this Sunday, click here.

We look forward to welcoming you this Sunday; whether you read the book or on the fence about adding this volume to your expanding library or just want to know the history behind this last major battle in the northern theater in the American Revolution. Or all three! Remember to bring your comments, questions, and a favorite beverage to sip on as you tune in.

Review: James Monroe: A Life by Tim McGrath (New York: Dutton, 2020)

Mcgrath Bio of MonroeTim McGrath has written two award-winning winning books about the early history of the United States Navy: Give Me a Fast Ship and John Barry.  For his third book, he switched gears to tackle an oft-overlooked soldier, lawyer, politician, and president: James Monroe.  In what will likely be the definitive Monroe biography, McGrath tackles the entirety of our fifth president’s life.  Born in 1758, Monroe joined the American army in the Revolution’s early days until he was sidelined with a serious wound at Trenton.

As McGrath tells it, the story of Monroe’s early life was a constant search for a mentor and sponsor, which eventually landed him on William “Lord Stirling” Alexander’s staff.  It was enough to bring him the attention and lukewarm friendship or support of many of the army’s leading lights and the country’s future leaders, but not enough to really launch his career.  Eventually, he landed a legal apprenticeship with Virginia’s Governor Thomas Jefferson.  It changed Monroe’s life, giving him a path forward professionally, politically, and intellectually.

Continue reading “Review: James Monroe: A Life by Tim McGrath (New York: Dutton, 2020)”

Review: American Rebels, How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution

Two of the above three last names are very familiar to even casual observers of American history. John Hancock, whose signature is readily apparent at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, where it was joined by John Adams and Samuel Adams. Yet, that last name in the title, Quincy, may not be as obvious as should be at first glance.

What is remarkable about these last names? Besides, the simple fact that members with those three surnames played a major role in the road to revolution and surprisingly on both sides of the chasm of loyalties? All could trace their roots to a small town in Massachusetts; Braintree.

“The covenant of liberty that they shared would be sharpened by ambition and envy, polished through friendships and love, and fought for in a revolution fomented by these children of Braintree” (pg. 8).

In that town, from its first inhabiting European settlers, the spirit of questioning accepted decrees took root, matured, and blossomed. And until now, the intertwining vines of those family trees had not been put under the microscope of historic observation until the publication this year of American Rebels, How the Hancock, Adams,and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution. Penned by Nina Sankovitch an Illinois native, author of several nonfiction works, and resident of New England, she effortlessly weaves the stories of these families into part biography, part family history, and part United States history. All parts equally important and very well written.

“Even as the fortunes of these children of Braintree diverged, their futures would bring them together again. A shared promise connected them, fostered by the history, the land, and the people of Braintree…” (pg. 8)

One of the highlights in the book is the emergence of the Quincy family into a popular history such as this. One of the unsung heroes of the road to revolution was Josiah Quincy Jr.

“As Reverend Hancock preached, the “solemn covenant….of their Liberty” was not obtained through faith alone but could only be realized through hard work performed by a community together. And this sacred covenant would be protected against any and all usurpers who attempted to take their liberty away.” (pg. 15).

Furthermore, Sankovitch brings to the forefront the role of women in the various families and their impact on the time. The best known is Abigail Adams who is the confidant and intellectual equal of her husband, John. Another is the aunt of John Hancock, Lydia, who constantly watches out for John’s place in society. She is the driving force that will bring to fruition the connection between the Quincy and Hancock families. Or Abigail Quincy, who had married Josiah Quincy, Jr., would never remarry but dedicated the rest of her days to raising their son and preserving his memory and contributions to the cause of America. The anguish of losing her beloved is quite evident:

“I have been told that time would wear out the greatest sorrow, but mine I find is still increasing. When it will have reached its summit, I know not.” (pg. 348).

Highlighted by the quote above, the author brings these historic personas and people to life, capturing the heartache, familial turmoil, ambition, and connections. Just as these families bred revolutionaries, there were sons that stayed loyal to the British crown, including a brother and brother-in-law of Josiah Quincy.

From weaving the families together, to connecting the threads of the evolution of political thought, and showing the personal strains of what the road to revolution looked like, Sankovitch has compiled an easily readable, insightful look into the 18th century world.

Enjoy!

*Book Information*

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 2020)

Pages: 416

Review: John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

John Adams Under FireMost people with an interest in the American Revolutionary War have heard of the Boston Massacre, in which Captain Thomas Preston of the 29th Regiment of Foot, commanding a contingent of British soldiers, fired into a crowd, or a mob depending on one’s point of view, harassing/threatening a guard outside the Customs House.  Both sides in the growing dispute between Britain and its colonies rapidly turned the event, which occurred 250 years ago, to their political ends.  Several books have been written about the massacre and tried to sort fact from propaganda, at least in the context of revolutionary Boston.  In their latest book, John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial, Dan Abrams and David Fisher tackle the trials of Captain Preston and his soldiers that followed. Continue reading “Review: John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial by Dan Abrams and David Fisher”

Book Review: The Indian World of George Washington by Colin G. Calloway

Indian World of GW - Calloway

Multiple tomes grace bookshelves in libraries, book stores, and personal residences that depict various aspects of George Washington’s life and legacy. Historian Colin G. Calloway’s “The Indian World of George Washington”  deserves a space on that bookshelf.

Long overdue, this volume about Washington fills a void, as “nothing was more central than the relationship between the first president and the first Americans” (pg. 4). From his first appearances in the greater colonial world in the early 1750s to the last years of his presidency, “a thick Indian strand runs through the life of George Washington as surely as it runs through the history of early America” (pg. 4).

Continue reading “Book Review: The Indian World of George Washington by Colin G. Calloway”

ERW Book Review: Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle by Jonathan Horn

George Washington retired from public life at the end of his second presidential term on March 4, 1797. Twenty months and ten days later he died on December 14, 1799. In between Washington was also the first in the United States to be a former president, first to deal with securing his legacy as both a military hero and political figure, and having to see the country he sacrificed so much to create, lurch forward without him having an active part in it.

Until now, these years have been either excluded, glossed over, or an anti-climatic ending to a Washington biography. Until now. Joseph Horn, a former presidential speechwriter and the author of The Man Who Would Not Be Washington lends his talent to a new biography of Washington, examining those last few years in-depth.

The author has a valid point when he argues that, “for too long, the story of Washington’s last years has been squeezed into the margins of manuscripts, if included at all” (pg. 14). Channeling the method of famed Washington biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, Horn writes this biography in the “fog of war” style that affords the reader the opportunity to read the history “through the eyes of those who made it rather than through the hindsight of historians” (pg. 14).

Continue reading “ERW Book Review: Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle by Jonathan Horn”

Interview with Tom Chaffin, author of Revolutionary Brothers, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship that Helped Forge Two Nations

Last week, Emerging Revolutionary War‘s Phillip S. Greenwalt wrote a review of the above mentioned book. To find that review click here. Recently, through email, Emerging Revolutionary War had a chance to interview the author. The questions and his responses are below.

Tom Chaffin, author
Continue reading “Interview with Tom Chaffin, author of Revolutionary Brothers, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship that Helped Forge Two Nations”

Review: Revolutionary Brothers, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship that Helped Forge Two Nations by Tom Chaffin

Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de Lafayette, two household names from the American Revolutionary War. One the author of Declaration of Independence and one of the great political minds of the era. The other, a Frenchman, enamored with the ideals of the rebelling colonies of British North America who risked a maritime crossing, was wounded at Brandywine, and served both on the field of battle and the international sphere to help achieve American independence.

That much is known about these two gentlemen, icons of history. How about their friendship, one that spanned decades and brought both men through times of personal and professional difficulties. Although years separated visits and both men were well into adulthood before making their respective acquaintance, the friendship helped cement the bond between countries, from aid during the American Revolution to a thankful nation celebrating the return of the Marquis in the mid-1820s.

This friendship has finally been captured in narrative form by historian Tom Chaffin, author of other historical works and biographies in a book published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019.

Continue reading “Review: Revolutionary Brothers, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Friendship that Helped Forge Two Nations by Tom Chaffin”

Review: Rick Atkinson, The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Joshua Shepherd to the blog who reviewed the book mentioned above. Short bio of Joshua is at the bottom of this post.

In recent years, there’s been a fortunate resurgence of interest in the Revolution and founding era. To meet the mounting demand for Revolutionary history, some of the nation’s most gifted popular authors have written highly successful volumes that cover the War for Independence and the Early Republic.

Some outstanding books have consequently gone to press, but, by and large, the publications have very often been biographies; occasionally, publishing houses introduce monographs that cover a single campaign. From professional circles, much of the new scholarly research focuses on the currently-vogue academic preference for social history. At least in recent decades, the relative paucity of military history has left an appreciable gap in the historiography of the Revolution. With the release of The British Are Coming, author Rick Atkinson has met a vital need for an up-to-date and comprehensive military history of the American Revolution.

Continue reading “Review: Rick Atkinson, The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777”

Review: Founding Martyr, The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna

ERW Book Reviews (1)

Doctor. Major General. President of the Provincial Congress. Author of political tracts. A true patriot. Forgotten.

41mPwaMUWfL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_All these words, plus many more, are titles that depict the life of Dr. Joseph Warren. However, the last term is most synonymous with the Massachusetts doctor who fell in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. That last word, forgotten, is exactly what author and historian Christian Di Spigna is hoping to expunge with his new biography, Founding Martyr. 

Di Spigna, an early American history expert and Colonial Williamsburg volunteer, focuses his account of Dr. Warren on not the events immediately surrounding his death at Bunker Hill and subsequent martyrdom but “to fill in the more obscure parts of Warren’s life” which will lead to understanding more of the “key period in the formation of his character, his special networks, and ultimately his medical and political careers” (pg. 7). Continue reading “Review: Founding Martyr, The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero by Christian Di Spigna”