American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

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by Harlow Giles Unger

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From the author of The Last Founding Father, an in-depth look at the Boston Tea Party and how it defined the course of American history.See more details below


From the author of The Last Founding Father, an in-depth look at the Boston Tea Party and how it defined the course of American history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

"Ironically, few, if any, Americans today-even those who call themselves Tea Party Patriots-know the true and entire story of the original Tea Party and the Patriots who staged it." Journalist, historian, and biographer Unger (Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation) turns his attention to the 50 years surrounding the infamous event that resulted in "a nation of coffee drinkers...a declaration of independence, a bloody revolution, and the modern world's first experiment in self-governance." Unger traces the growing anger of colonial businessmen toward British taxation to pay for defense of American soil, from the Molasses Act to the Tea Tax, not the first but fourth attempt to tax the colonies. Unger brings to vivid life familiar historical characters (the incompetent businessman Sam Adams; the wealthy John Hancock, Boston's "merchant king") with lively text and fine reproductions of period maps, paintings, and engravings. Readers will sense foreshadowing of the ultimate irony that "a decade after independence the American government seemed to mirror the very British government that Tea Party Patriots had fought to shatter." Unger's exciting historical account raises questions that are as relevant today as they were in 1773.
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From the Publisher

Kirkus, 2/1/11
“A solidly researched account of the 1773 Boston Tea Party…[A] well-delineated, contrarian history.”

Booklist, 3/1/11
“Considering the incident’s resonance for the current Tea Party movement, Unger’s history allows timely comparison of the original and its contemporary namesake.”
Internet Review of Books, 2/16/11
“A fine example of historical research that educates and entertains at the same time…[An] eyes-wide-open look at what triggered the Revolutionary War and our split from the motherland.”

What Would the Founders Think, 3/8/11
“Fascinating…A book of consequence.  It is informative and thought provoking, packed with historical footnotes and research.”
The Daily, 3/13/11
“[A] zippy account…The adventuresome tone of the book will delight anyone with a stake in American history, colonial mischief or righteous indignation.”
The Oklahoman, 3/13/11
“Unger presents the down and dirty real story about what actually happened at the Boston Tea Party and how it helped launch a revolution…This book is highly recommended to those interested in the American Revolution and Massachusetts history.”
New York Journal of Books, 3/15/11
“The events that birthed the original Tea Party are given their just airing via Ungers’ scholarship…At once fascinating and engrossing, it fills in huge gaps between major events and gives studied, fundamental reasons for the actions that occurred. Incredibly well written and as readable as a solid novel, the author has done a prodigious service to consequential events in our early history.”
Boston Globe, 3/17/11
“Never has a meticulous, well-written history of the Boston Tea Party…seemed more relevant. Colonial historian Harlow Giles Unger delivers a stirring chronicle, making it clear that the similarities between then and now are thought-provoking…Unger has brought it brilliantly to life.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review, 3/21/11
"Unger brings to vivid life familiar historical characters with lively text and fine reproductions of period maps, paintings, and engravings…Unger’s exciting historical account raises questions that are as relevant today as they were in 1773.”

Newcity, 3/8/11
“With solid research and elegant, even passionate writing, Harlow Giles Unger has achieved the first rank of historians rescuing our powdered-wig set from the dust of history or, even worse, modern partisan mythology…Bloody good historical writing.”
Hudson Valley News, 3/24/11
“Absolutely riveting…[A] delightful escapade into history.”
Deseret News, 3/27/11
“Set any preconceived notions of the Founding Fathers to the side. After reading author and historian Harlow Giles Unger's latest offering…opinions of America's first idols may change…American Tempest not only offers a somewhat different view on American history, but it also delivers as an entertaining and informative read.”
Tucson Citizen, 3/28/11
“A fascinating book about this chapter in our national history…Unger has written an exciting, accessible account of the tea party and has set it in its proper context.”
The Waterline, 3/31/11
“A fascinating look at the intricacies of the 1773 Boston Tea Party…What is a delight is Unger’s ability to bring to life the characters of the period with all the human elements of resentment, jealousy, thirst for power, and loss.”, 3/31/11
“[Unger] does a good job of putting the December 16, 1773 protest in the context of the protest movement as a whole at the time…Those with an interest in American history and the roots of today’s Tea Party movement (roots of which many modern members are likely unaware) will find American Tempest fascinating reading.”
American History, June 2011
“Well-researched, wide-ranging and emphasizing the revolutionary fog shrouding both sides, which caused lost opportunities as well as triumphs.”, 3/29/11
“Far from a whitewash of [the] event, this is the tale of the real, and sometimes mad, agitators whom George Washington condemned as vandals.”
Reference and Research Books News, April 2011
"This dramatic retelling of the history of the Boston Tea Party eschews the traditional patriotic narrative and presents the events that led up to the American revolution in a more critical light, describing the leaders of the protest as tax evaders and failed businessmen, who, never the less, managed to inspire a nation to revolution.”
American Spirit, May/June 2011
“Highly enjoyable for history buffs and casual readers alike…Unger brings to life the turbulent times and feelings that preceded the Revolutionary War.”
Asbury Park Press, 4/24/11
“The book does far more than tell that of-old tale…Tempest also is a mini-biography of John Hancock.”

Post and Courier, 5/1/11
“How did a protest against taxation turn into an all-out revolution against the most powerful government in the world, resulting in the birth of a nation? Harlow Giles Unger reminds us, and with revealing detail…Unger examines some of the real motivations behind the customary histories and paints a vivid portrait of Colonial Boston…American Tempest is exciting and masterfully told.”
Midwest Book Review, May 2011
“A lively history of the Tea Party and its aftermath…Take American history, supercharge it with drama, and you have a nonfiction story that reads like a novel yet is packed with easily-accessible facts!”
Kingman Daily Miner, 6/3/11 “Unger writes with authority…Highly recommended.”

Choice, December 2011 “This readable history will challenge readers’ perceptions of those who held the first Tea Party in 1773. Treading where others have been reluctant to go, Unger has washed away some of the shine that has encrusted some patriots…This is good history.”

The Lone Star, November 2011
“An outstanding book whose time is now!...American Tempest does an excellent job of fully explaining what the original Tea Party was all about.”

Kirkus Reviews

A solidly researched account of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

Prolific historian Unger (Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation, 2010, etc.) stresses that "taxation without representation" was an afterthought; Britain's American colonies hated all taxes. A century of benign neglect had left them essentially self-governing and untaxed, and all reacted indignantly when London tried to assert control. Smuggling negated the first taxes, but matters deteriorated after 1760 when Parliament passed measures—the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townsend Act, Tea Act—that produced little revenue but protests, violence and a pugnacious independence movement. Unger concentrates on Massachusetts, the first to erupt. Most readers will agree with his description of British arrogance, naiveté and disastrous tactics, but will squirm as the author turns to the opposition and its leaders, Samuel Adams and James Otis. Few historians deny it, but Unger emphasizes their unrelenting anger, which sprang as much from personal failures (and, in Otis's case, mental illness) as love of liberty. A relentless agitator, Adams cultivated Boston's underclass, provoking rampages of looting, arson and tarring-and-feathering which, in an era without police, went unpunished and convinced wealthy establishment figures such as John Hancock that opposing Adams would be ruinously expensive. Although revered today, the original Tea Party upset many patriots; Washington and Franklin denounced the destruction of private property. As usual, it was Britain's harsh overreaction that united the opposition.

Well-delineated, contrarian history—though it may disappoint readers looking for an inspiring tale of freedom lovers thumbing their noses at despotism.

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Da Capo Press
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