THE CITY- STATE OF BOSTON by MARK PETERSON

Boston, a city unlike any other in the annals of American history.  ” A City On a Hill,” The Athens of America, ” The Cradle of Liberty.”   Each appellation has been appropriately tested over centuries.  Mark Peterson’s THE C ITY-STATE OF BOSTON is nothing short of remarkable and an important unfolding of the fundamental role this city and its colonial inhabitants played in America from the 1630’s through the onset of the Civil War.

Look not in these pages for the” Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” The Boston Tea Party, or for “One if by land, two if by sea.”  No. This scholarly work is about Boston’s era of enormous influence through the prism of religion, colonial government, social norms, economics, trade, regional influence, slavery and the utopian ideals that the Puritans of the Great Migration brought with them to the New World.  Peterson’s history unfolds upon American shores beginning in the 1630s as British Immigrants establish a largely independent entity called Boston, virtually free from the influence of the mother country. Boston, through the ingenuity and common purpose of its people, established an ethical  culture whose influence spread to the evolving New England Region. Boston became the undisputed mercantile center of the worldwide Atlantic trade, and the dominant force of culture and ideals that lead to the American Revolution.

You will learn of the New England influence upon the Articles of Confederation, of John Adam’s conflicts with Thomas Jefferson in the framing of the Constitution, and of how the slave states ultimately dominated the direction of the nation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  The southern block influence became so great under Jefferson that in the period of the War of 1812, Massachusetts considered becoming the first state to succeed from the fragile Union.

I hope these brief references will stimulate you to  absorb Peterson’s  incredible insight into this period of colonial history.  It ranks at the very top of the books I have selected on the subject because it journeys deeply below the surface of the famous named historical events and creates an understanding of how the most important city of the period came into dominance and then faded.  You will be introduced to new individuals whose names never have appeared on the,” marquee of history,”  but  the influence of whom was enormous.

Mark Peterson is the Edmund S. Morgan Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of The Price of Redemption: The Spiritual Economy of Puritan New England.   Search gordonsgoodreads.com for two suggested companion reads to BostonAmerican Dialogue by Joseph Ellis, The Barbarous Years by Bernard Bailyn, John Adams by David McCullough.  

 

 

 

David McCullough- Thirty Seven Years Later- A NYT Best Seller !

Yes, hundreds of other kindred spirits did the same as me!  On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal we were reminded of  David McCullough’s  The Path Between The Seas  and rushed out to purchase this acclaimed historical work.  As a testament to its relevance,  the book again appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List on Sunday, September 7th, 2014,  37 years after its original publication in 1977!

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The epic story of the building of the Panama Canal, started by the French, completed by the Americans, could not have been better told than through a David McCullough narrative.  The Path Between The Seas details every nuance of this unprecedented enterprise in world history.

Despite the enormity of the subject, McCullough’s story telling never gets bogged down in detail but rather enlightens  and educates the reader into understanding the complexities of the entire undertaking.  Meet the fascinating Frenchman Ferdinand deLesseps, the promoter of the Suez Canal, whose failure at Panama, ensured the ultimate completion by America of an enterprise the scale of which had never before been attempted by mankind. It literally required a revolution to reorganize the geography and power structure of the world.

McCullough masterfully tells the story of the canal. The politics, money, ego’s, intrigue and with great insight to the racial issues surrounding 45,000 West Indian black men and women whose manual labor made the building of the canal possible. The development of  the engineering skills and construction knowledge previously unknown and untested became miracles in their application.  ” We are facing a proposition greater than was ever undertaken in engineering history. ”

Combined with the enormity of the engineering and logistical challenge was the understanding the once the American’s bought out the failed French effort, the first priority would be ridding the Canal Zone of Yellow Fever and Malaria which had heretofore devastated the work force. The resulting benefit to medical research, while at the same time overcoming skeptical pedestrian medical views , would benefit populations worldwide for decades.  No single construction effort in American History had exacted a comparable  price in human lives and dollars and yet the scientific, social and economic rewards would ultimately dwarf the investment costs.

Just as in Truman, John Adams and Mornings on Horseback,  McCullough combines his skills as historian with those of a storyteller resulting in a thrilling journey during an American  era when anything seemed possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David McCullough/John Adams/ A Gift to all Americans

David McCullough’s  biography  John Adams can be credited with introducing 20th and 21st century Americans to the enormous impact John Admas, from patriot to president, had on early American History including The Revolution, The Presidency and the U.S. Constitution.

This magnificent work, incredibly well researched  is also a beautifully written story.  As one would expect from McCullough, all of the facts are in place, but the story of Adams the person and his relationship with his wife Abigail  is truly moving.  You will come to understand just how difficult it was to be President of the United States in 18th Century America.   You will read quotes from the trove of Adam’s letters both personal and public that are so enlightening about how critical decisions were made.  You will learn that the fact that America was born was itself a miracle!

Within the pages of John Adams, McCullough  portrays beautifully the love story between John  and Abigail.   He also captures the ruptured relationship between Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the reader is thrilled to learn of the two coming together as friends  in the later years of their lives.

You need not be a student of history to enjoy every page of John Adams.  It is a story about an incredibly gifted man’s love for his country, his wife and family.

David McCullough is a national treasure and his generosity in creativity is a gift to all Americans.