Think You Know The American Revolution? Read These Five Books This Fourth of July, Professor Says

June 30, 2016

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (June 30, 2016) — This Fourth of July marks the 240th anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted. This year, in addition to firing up the grill and donning red, white and blue, why not pick up a book?

In a recent blog post on The Gospel Coalition website, Thomas Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History and associate director of Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, recommended five “great summer reads” on the founding of America.

“There are the usual suspects, like David McCullough’s ‘John Adams’ or Ron Chernow’s ‘Alexander Hamilton’ … But I thought I (would) offer up a few you may or may not know,” Kidd wrote in his blog post. “They are excellent reads and will introduce you to some lesser-known, fascinating characters of the revolutionary period.”

1. “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer

“Fischer’s evocative story places Revere in his proper colonial context,” Kidd wrote. “After reading this, you’ll understand why it was impossible that Revere would have ever said, ‘The British are coming!’”

2. “The Minutemen and Their World,” by Robert Gross

“Gross introduces us to the lost world of Concord, Massachusetts, and how it came to produce the celebrated minutemen. Gross also gives excellent coverage of the effects of the Great Awakening in Concord, 30 years before the Revolution,” Kidd wrote.

3. “The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790” by Rhys Isaac

“This Pulitzer Prize-winning book, originally published in 1982, gives a riveting account of the Great Awakening in Virginia, the Baptist ‘revolt,’ and the way that religion and revolution transformed Virginia’s hierarchical society,” Kidd wrote.

4. “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“Ulrich also won the Pulitzer Prize for her remarkable recreation of Ballard’s compelling life,” Kidd wrote. “This is perhaps the best American social history biography ever written.”

5. “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” by Bernard Bailyn

“Yet another Pulitzer winner, this is probably the least likely ‘beach read’ book on the list,” Kidd wrote. “But it is utterly compelling, almost 50 years after its original publication. If I had to pick one book on the American Revolution that made the biggest impression on me, it would be this one.”

To read Kidd’s full recommendations on the best Fourth of July reads, visit his blog post online.

by Karyn Simpson, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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