A history of the events surrounding the American Revolution, but it is not like any history you were likely to have been taught back in high school…All the significant players are accounted for…They just aren’t quite the noble selfless characters that graced the pages of my high school history book…Unger's narrative is eminently readable. And if you can read what he has to say without gritting your teeth in patriotic fury, you may find yourself on the way to the library to see what some of the other modern scholars have to say about the period.”
The Federal Lawyer, July 2012
“[Unger] details the Colonies’ move to independence in a coherent and convincing narrative…There is a lot of history, and a lot of detail, in this relatively short volume, which remains exciting though the outcome is not in doubt.”
Portland Book Review, 5/22/12
“Unger captures the spirit of pre-Revolutionary America.”
Curled Up with a Good Book, 9/3/12
“A definitive account of this renowned incident of American history…An interesting read.”
“A solidly researched account of the 1773 Boston Tea Party…[A] well-delineated, contrarian history.”
“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.”
Politics & Patriotism, 3/6/12
“American Tempest re-defined my understanding of The Boston Tea Party, and what its legacy is to modern Americans. I will never think of ‘taxation without representation’ quite the same way ever again…American Tempest does more than tell us what happened before, during, and after The Boston Tea Party. The author makes his case for why it happened.”
"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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.