1776: A New Look at Revolutionary Williamsburg


Find yourself transported to Williamsburg in the days of the Revolution! See the city at war through the eyes of everyday citizens for an exciting new perspective on the historic year of 1776. The latest in the popular "New Look" line of history titles, K.M. Kostyal’s 1776: A New Look at Revolutionary Williamsburg combines new scholarship with rare, powerful photographs to take readers behind the scenes at Colonial Williamsburg.

Stunning re-enactment photographs of America’s ...

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Find yourself transported to Williamsburg in the days of the Revolution! See the city at war through the eyes of everyday citizens for an exciting new perspective on the historic year of 1776. The latest in the popular "New Look" line of history titles, K.M. Kostyal’s 1776: A New Look at Revolutionary Williamsburg combines new scholarship with rare, powerful photographs to take readers behind the scenes at Colonial Williamsburg.

Stunning re-enactment photographs of America’s "Revolutionary City" brings history vividly to life: The narrative goes beyond the story of the founding fathers to give a close-up look at how the war for independence played out for ordinary citizens such as women, blacksmiths, and enslaved people.

Colonial Williamsburg scholars shed fresh light on this vital era in our history with the most recent research and analysis. The book’s lively design combines with the compelling photography of modern-day Williamsburg’s street theater and historic interpretation to transport readers back to the heyday of colonial times. Scenes from around the city include a milliner forced to pack up shop, children at a play in a courtyard next to soldiers on patrol, and slaves wrenched from family and friends as they leave town with their Loyalist masters. This exciting, innovative book takes a new look at a familiar topic through the lives of the men and women who would claim America for their own and declare themselves its first citizens.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information. 

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Reflecting a change in attitude towards reconstructed Williamsburg, this attractive book incorporates recent and ongoing research that reveals new information about the lives of slaves, artisans, and Williamsburg's few Indians. From its striking cover photo of a sturdy black soldier (is he a slave or a freedman?) to thoughtful comments by Jared Armstead, fifteen, on his interpreter's job as a teenage slave, text and gorgeous color photographs tell the story of this former Virginia capital through the difficult days of the Revolution. To the townspeople, war brought changes, lucidly explained in Kostyal's narrative: slaves parting from friends and families as their masters leave town, a milliner packing up her shop since she no longer has imported goods, soldiers camping on the Palace Green—all re-enacted by costumed interpreters in accompanying photographs. Small insets focus on details like a gun maker's tools and a row of gourds drying in the sun. Readers will have a difficult time deciding which illustration is most telling; perhaps it is the one of a beautiful blond young man adjusting his bottle-green coat, attended by an equally handsome young African-American, once his playmate, now his slave. (There is also a glimpse of a red-coated Benedict Arnold on his white charger as the British invade in 1781.) For any study of the American Revolution, this book will be a valuable asset, with additional pages on the archaeology and history of the Williamsburg project and a useful chronology of the Revolution in Virginia. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
VOYA - Melissa Moore
Many American students have visited Williamsburg and might believe that they know the whole story of the world's largest "living history" museum, but this volume brings to the fore newly discovered facts. Williamsburg was not simply a setting for the gentry having tea, seamstresses sewing clothing, and blacksmiths making muskets. Many of its inhabitants were enslaved Africans, indentured servants, and Native Americans; by 1776, more than half of the village's residents were black. The College of William and Mary, located in Williamsburg, opened a school in 1760 for its black residents, giving those children an opportunity (if their masters agreed) to learn to read and write. Gowan Pamphlet, a black preacher, brought together enslaved Africans during the War and helped them found their own church. This book is not simply a look at historical Williamsburg but rather a vivid retelling of the Revolutionary War, its deprivations and ultimate triumph of the cause. Beautiful photographs of Williamsburg interpreters tell their own story of the interaction between slaves and masters, between the Native Americans and the British settlers, between the British soldiers and the Continental Army. Concise, exceptional writing pairs perfectly with the photographs to create a history with feeling that will welcome all readers. Two earlier books in this vein, 1607: A New Look at Jamestown (National Geographic, 2007) and 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (2004), give this reviewer hope for additional titles in this extraordinary series. Reviewer: Melissa Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Like Karen E. Lange's 1607: A New Look at Jamestown (2007) and Catherine O'Neill Grace's 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (2001, both National Geographic), this book challenges traditional views of history, incorporating the latest archaeological findings to present updated theories about how people lived in the time period. In full-page color photographs, costumed actors depict enslaved African Virginians; Williamsburg gentry, merchants, craftspeople, and farmers; and patriot and British soldiers. White space, maps, and smaller photos combine with the dramatic larger images, resulting in a visually exciting and inviting format. Brief context is provided about earlier and later Williamsburg, but most of the book is focused tightly on the Revolutionary period. Causes of the war, effects on ordinary people, and how Williamsburg fit into the larger conflict are examined. The author explains how historians and archaeologists piece together information from period writings and artifacts found during excavation. The text is current, including a description of Colonial Williamsburg's latest project, rebuilding Charlton's Coffeehouse near the Capitol. More of a social history than a straightforward history text, this book will be valuable to teachers for demonstrating the human side of an often-studied period and to anyone visiting the restored area.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Renda's bright color photographs of a squeaky-clean Colonial Williamsburg-the living history museum-belie the serious intent of this fine volume, which portrays 18th-century Williamsburg as more of a multicultural and fluid society than previously thought. Though the popular image of the gentry with their powdered wigs and fancy houses is true, so is the fact that over half of the city's population was slaves, "with families, traditions, and dreams of their own." The photo-essay is a clearly written and concise portrait of revolutionary Williamsburg, determined not to leave African Virginians, Indians and women out of the picture. The straightforward presentation, brief chapters and vivid photographs, along with a look at recent archaeological discoveries, make this an important volume for libraries and classrooms. A more extensive bibliography, especially with materials for young readers, would be useful, but this is another fine work in the "A New Look at" series, which includes the excellent 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac, with photographs by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson (2001). (Nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426305177
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 803,627
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: NC1100L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

K.M. Kostyal has written a number of books for the National Geographic Society including Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Kostyal is a history buff with a fascination for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. She lives in Washington D.C.

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