Category Archives: Books

Saratoga and Hubbardton, 1777


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ben_franklins_worldHistorians refer to the Battle of Saratoga as the turning point of the American Revolution.

They argue the patriot army’s defeat of British General John Burgoyne’s forces convinced the French to enter the War for Independence. Together, French and American forces cornered Charles, Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 and ended the war.

This is the quick version of Saratoga, but as we know, history is more complicated.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the Saratoga Campaign of 1777 in more depth with Bruce M. Venter, author of The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America (Arcadia, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/071.

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‘No One Helped’: The Myth of Urban Apathy


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no one helpedMarcia M. Gallo takes a look at one of America’s most infamous crime stories, in No One Helped (2015 Cornell University).  This new book examines  the 1964 rape and murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, in a middle-class neighborhood of Queens.

Front-page reports in the New York Times incorrectly identified thirty-eight indifferent witnesses to the crime, fueling fears of apathy and urban decay. Genovese’s life, including her lesbian relationship, was also obscured in media accounts of the crime.

Fifty years later, the story of Kitty Genovese continues to circulate in popular culture. Although it is now known that there were far fewer witnesses to the crime than was reported in 1964, the moral of the story continues to be urban apathy. No One Helped traces the Genovese story’s development and resilience while challenging the myth it created. Continue reading

Firefight: The Battle to Integrate the NYFD


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firefightGinger Adams Otis’ new book Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest (2015 Palgrave MacMillan) offers a fresh look at New York City’s firefighters’ critical Civil Rights history.

Firefight is a narrative from veteran reporter Ginger Adams Otis that delves deep into the struggle of black firefighters to truly integrate the FDNY – the largest fire department in the U.S.

It sheds light on the long, painful effort to achieve the still-elusive post-racial America and shares the untold history of the black men and women who battled to join the Bravest. Continue reading

Book of Early NYC Church Records Published


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liber a part 2A new book, Liber A of the Collegiate Churches of New York, Part 2, provides new insight on colonial New York as a diverse New World economic hub. This volume includes a more-complete set of records of early life in the church, a cornerstone of colonial life.

Liber A Part 2 contains 17th-century records from the Reformed Dutch Church of the City of the New York, founded in 1628, which later became the Collegiate Churches of New York. The book includes details about daily life, baptism and marriage practices from this period, providing fundamental context. This volume is a companion to Liber A , published in 2009, and includes the church’s earliest moments such as details of its construction and the royal charter that led to its founding.

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Free Citizens Kidnapped Before the Civil War


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast David Fiske discusses his new book, “Solomon Northup’s Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War” (Praeger, 2016). Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University professor and PBS host, said, “Fiske’s efforts to document these victims and the crimes that robbed them of their families and freedom are heroic indeed and should be applauded.” Fiske previously was the co-author of “Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.” You can listen to the entire podcast here. Continue reading

Eric Foner Wins 2016 American History Book Prize


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Eric FonerDr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that historian Eric Foner will be awarded with New-York Historical’s annual American History Book Prize for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography.

Professor Foner will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, which will be presented on April 8, 2016. The ceremony is part of New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council Weekend with History, a two-day event featuring an array of speakers discussing important historical events that have impacted New York City and the nation. Continue reading

Law, Order, and Sexual Misconduct in Colonial New England


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ben_franklins_worldLaw and order stood as a sign of civilization for many 17th-century Europeans, which is why some of the first European settlers in North America created systems of law and order in their new homeland.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the legal history of colonial New England with Abby Chandler, author of Law and Sexual Misconduct in New England 1650-1750 (Ashgate, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/069

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Jim Blackburn: Time Traveling in Tuckerton, NJ


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Cover - The Price Sisters’ DiariesIn the film Back to the Future Part II (1989), the characters of Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future year of 2015. Not to go too far into the plot (which many of you may already know), while in the future Marty gets the idea to buy a sports almanac to bring back from the future and make money betting on sports. But before they leave 2015 (October 21st to be exact) Doc discovers the almanac and gives the reasoning behind the building of his time machine. Doc say to Marty: “I didn’t invent the time machine for financial gain. The intent here is to gain a clear perspective on humanity. Where we have been. Where we are going. The pitfalls and the possibilities. The perils and the promise of perhaps an answer to that universal question – why?” Continue reading

The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel


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the remarkable rise of Eliza JumelThe Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights was built in 1765, and is Manhattan’s oldest surviving house. George Washington made it his headquarters during parts of the Revolutionary War, and today it is a not-for-profit museum open to all, yet the mansion flies mostly under the radar of even the most erudite of New Yorkers.

Margaret A. Oppenheimer sheds light on the mansion and its most notorious occupant in her new book, The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel: A Story of Marriage and Money in the Early Republic (2015 Chicago Review Press). Continue reading

Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln


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ben_franklins_worldAbraham Lincoln grew up as the son of a poor farmer. Yet, he became the 16th President of the United States.

How did the son of a poor farmer achieve election to the presidency?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate the life of Abraham Lincoln and his journey to the presidency with Richard Brookhiser, author of Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln (Basic Books, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/068

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