Category Archives: Books

Second Great Awakening in Northern New England


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Shelby M. Balik, author of Rally the Scattered Believers: Northern New England’s Religious Geography (Indiana University Press, 2014), joins us to explore the New England town-church ideal, how it helped New Englanders organize their towns, and why the post-Revolution migration into northern New England forced New Englanders to change and adapt how they maintained civic and moral order within their communities. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/030 Continue reading

The Historic Apples of New York


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adirondack appleEvery two years I gather together some friends to make hard cider. None of us have apple orchards. From the time the buds break throughout the summer, until after the first couple hard frosts, we scan the roads and fields of the Adirondacks. We look for abandoned orchards and clumps of neglected trees in yards and inquire with their owners.

Right up until the last gallon goes into the fermenter we have endless debates about the best way to pick our finds. We prattle on about the best timing, their sugar content, texture, and flavors. Inevitably the question is raised: “well, what do you think it is?” Now, a new book has been published that we can turn to in trying to figure that out. Continue reading

The Native American Defeat of the First American Army


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Colin Calloway, Professor of History and Native American History at Dartmouth College, joins us to discuss how American settlement in the Ohio Valley led to The Victory with No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army (Oxford University Press, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/029

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Freedom Journey: Westchester Co Black Civil War Soldiers


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Freedoms Journey Black Civil War SoldiersAlmost 200,000 black men served in the Army during the Civil War, but only 34,000 were from the North. An underrepresented segment in Civil War studies, the stories of some of these Northern soldiers are told in Edythe Ann Quinn’s Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and the Hills Community, Westchester County, New York (SUNY Press, 2015).

Freedom Journey presents in-depth, personal histories of thirty-six free black men from New York State who fought in the war. The book is both an African-American community history and a Civil War history of three regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne On The Historians Podcast


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Bruce Dearstyne discussing his new book The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State’s History (SUNY Press, 2015) From the first state constitution to the New York Fire Department response to the 9-11 attacks, Dearstyne takes a look at 16 key events. Dearstyne is a history professor emeritus,  a former director of the New York State archives, and a regular contributor to The New York History Blog. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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A History of Stepfamilies in Early America


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ben_franklins_worldLike many 21st-century Americans, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln all had to navigate the world of blended and stepfamilies.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Lisa Wilson, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of American History at Connecticut College and author of A History of Stepfamilies in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), leads us on an investigation of blended and stepfamilies in early America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/027

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George Washington’s Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldWhat drove George Washington to become a Patriot during the American Revolution?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Robert Middlekauff, Professor Emeritus of colonial and early United States History at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader (Knopf, 2015), reveals the answer as we explore George Washington the man and leader. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/026

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The Reverend George Whitefield


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ben_franklins_worldGeorge Whitefield stood as one of the most visible figures in British North America between the 1740s and 1770. He was a central figure in the trans-Atlantic revivalist movement and a man whose legacy remains influential to evangelical Christians today.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Historian Jessica Parr, author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (University of Mississippi Press, 2015), introduces us to the Reverend George Whitefield. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/025.

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The Dutch Wars of Independence, 1570-1680


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Dutch wars of independenceIn The Dutch Wars of Independence: Warfare and Commerce in The Netherlands, 1570-1680 (Routledge, 2014), Marjolein ’t Hart assesses the success of the Dutch in establishing their independence through their eighty years struggle with Spain – one of the most remarkable achievements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Other rebellions troubled mighty powers of this epoch, but none resulted in the establishment of an independent, republican state. Continue reading

Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands


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image001(14)With hundreds of vivid and detailed color photographs and an easy narrative style enlivened by historical vignettes, Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh and William A. Turnbaugh bring overdue appreciation to a centuries-old Native American basketmaking tradition in the Northeast in Indian Basketry of the Northeastern Woodlands (Schiffer Publishing, 2014).

The authors explore the full range of vintage Indian woodsplint and sweetgrass basketry in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, from practical “work” baskets made for domestic use to whimsical “fancy” wares that appealed to Victorian tourists. Continue reading

Religion and Society in Early New York City


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Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America.

In episode 20 of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Kyle T. Bulthuis, author of Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York’s Early Republic Congregations (NYU Press, 2014), takes us on an exploration of early American religious life. Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/020

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A New History Of Trees, Woods and Forests


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Trees Woods and Forests BookForests – and the trees within them – have always been a central resource for the development of technology, culture, and the expansion of humans as a species.

Examining and challenging our historical and modern attitudes toward wooded environments from a European perspective, Charles Watkins’ Trees, Woods and Forest: A Social and Cultural History (Reaktion Books, 2014)  explores how our understanding of forests has transformed in recent years and how it fits in our continuing anxiety about our impact on the natural world. Continue reading

The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt 1877-1886


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Theodore Roosevelt DiariesA Most Glorious Ride: The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt 1877-1886 (SUNY Press, 2015) covers the formative years of TR’s life, and show the transformation of a sickly and solitary Harvard freshman into a confident and increasingly robust young adult. He writes about his grief over the premature death of his father, his courtship and marriage to his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, and later the death of Alice and his mother on the same day.

The diaries also chronicle his burgeoning political career in New York City and his election to the New York State Assembly. With his descriptions of balls, dinner parties, and nights at the opera, they offer a glimpse into life among the Gilded Age elite in Boston and New York. Continue reading

A NY Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer


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NY Research Guide front coverThe New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has published the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer (2015), a comprehensive, 856-page reference book for researchers of not just genealogy, but any type of history in the State of New York.

The book massive volume, considered unprecedented in its breadth and depth, covers New York State records for all the major ethnic and religious groups, and each county. Continue reading

Who Really Wrote The Declaration of Independence?


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ben_franklins_worldDo you know who authored the Declaration of Independence?

If you answered “Thomas Jefferson,” you would be wrong. Jefferson merely wrote the first draft of a document others created.

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Danielle Allen, Foundation Professor at the Institute of Advanced Study and author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (Liveright, 2014), leads us on an exploration of the Declaration of Independence. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/018

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New Book Traces America in the 1930s


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america-thirtiesAs the newest addition to the America in the Twentieth Century series, America in the Thirties (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2015) explores the complexity of America in what is considered its darkest era of the century.

The decade stood in stark contrast to the carefree, happy-go-lucky days of the Roaring Twenties when prosperity appeared endless. The Stock Market Crash in October 1929 and the economic collapse it unleashed threatened the very foundations of America’s economic, political, and social institutions. The ecological disaster produced by the Dust Bowl ravaging the Great Plains only added to the suffering and misery. Continue reading

Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company


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NY Taylor wineDrawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.

In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history. Continue reading

West Point’s Remarkable Class of 1914


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West Point 1915The cadets of the United States Military Academy, West Point, are intimately twined with the country’s history. The graduating class of 1915, the class the stars fell on, was particularly noteworthy. Of the 164 graduates that year, 59 (36%) attained the rank of general, the most of any class in. Michael Haskew’s West Point 1915: Eisenhower, Bradley, and the Class the Stars Fell On (Zenith Press, 2014) explores the achievements of this remarkable group.

Although Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, both five-star generals, are the most recognizable, other class members contributed significantly to the Allied victory in World War I, World War II and played key roles either in the post-war U.S. military establishment or in business and industry after World War II, especially in the Korean War and the formation of NATO. Continue reading