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Colonial Period (1600-1775)

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  1. 14.6 hrs • 8/16/2016 • Unabridged

    In a landmark work of history, Russell Shorto presents astonishing information on the founding of our nation and reveals in riveting detail the crucial role of the Dutch in making America what it is today. In the late 1960s, an archivist in the New York State Library made an astounding discovery: 12,000 pages of centuries-old correspondence, court cases, legal contracts, and reports from a forgotten society: the Dutch colony centered on Manhattan, which predated the thirteen “original” American colonies. For the past thirty years, scholar Charles Gehring has been translating this trove, which was recently declared a national treasure. Now, Russell Shorto has made use of this vital material to construct a sweeping narrative of Manhattan’s founding that gives a startling, fresh perspective on how America began. In an account that blends a novelist’s grasp of storytelling with cutting-edge scholarship,The Island at the Center of the Worldstrips Manhattan of its asphalt, bringing us back to a wilderness island—a hunting ground for Indians, populated by wolves and bears—that became a prize in the global power struggle between the English and the Dutch. Indeed, Russell Shorto shows that America’s founding was not the work of English settlers alone but a result of the clashing of these two seventeenth century powers. In fact, it was Amsterdam—Europe’s most liberal city, with an unusual policy of tolerance and a polyglot society dedicated to free trade—that became the model for the city of New Amsterdam on Manhattan. While the Puritans of New England were founding a society based on intolerance, on Manhattan the Dutch created a free-trade, upwardly-mobile melting pot that would help shape not only New York, but America.

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    The Island at the Center of the World

    14.6 hrs • 8/16/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 10.8 hrs • 7/1/2016 • Unabridged

    A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, How the Post Office Created America examines the surprising role of the postal service in our nation’s political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time, it was the US government’s largest and most important endeavor—indeed, it was the government for most citizens. This was no conventional mail network but the central nervous system of the new body politic, designed to bind thirteen quarrelsome colonies into the United States by delivering news about public affairs to every citizen—a radical idea that appalled Europe’s great powers. America’s uniquely democratic post powerfully shaped its lively, argumentative culture of uncensored ideas and opinions and made it the world’s information and communications superpower with astonishing speed. Winifred Gallagher presents the history of the post office as America’s own story, told from a fresh perspective over more than two centuries. The mandate to deliver the mail—then “the media”—imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape of post roads and villages centered on post offices. The post was the catalyst of the nation’s transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It enabled America to shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and to develop the publishing industry, the consumer culture, and the political party system. Still one of the country’s two major civilian employers, the post was the first to hire women, African Americans, and other minorities for positions in public life. Starved by two world wars and the Great Depression, confronted with the country’s increasingly anti-institutional mind-set, and struggling with its doubled mail volume, the post stumbled badly in the turbulent 1960s. Distracted by the ensuing modernization of its traditional services, however, it failed to transition from paper mail to email, which prescient observers saw as its logical next step. Now the post office is at a crossroads. Before deciding its future, Americans should understand what this grand yet overlooked institution has accomplished since 1775 and consider what it should and could contribute in the twenty-first century. Gallagher argues that now, more than ever before, the imperiled post office deserves this effort, because just as the founders anticipated, it created forward-looking, communication-oriented, idea-driven America.

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    How the Post Office Created America

    10.8 hrs • 7/1/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 9.0 hrs • 1/15/2016 • Unabridged

    A fascinating new angle on presidential history, assessing the performances of all forty-four presidents in their freshman year of the toughest job in the world Grouped by the issues the new presidents confronted in their first year in office, The President’s First Year takes listeners into the history, thought processes, and results on a case-by-case basis, including how the presidents’ subsequent actions prove that they learned—or didn’t learn—from their mistakes. From George Washington to Barack Obama, The President’s First Year details the challenging first twelve months of all our presidents’ tenures.

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    The President’s First Year by Douglas Alan Cohn

    The President’s First Year

    9.0 hrs • 1/15/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
    18.3 hrs • 10/27/2015 • Unabridged

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra, the #1 national bestseller, unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before nineteen men and women had been hanged and an eighty-year-old man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic. As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, The Witches is Stacy Schiff’s account of this fantastical story—the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

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    The Witches

    18.3 hrs • 10/27/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 0.5 hrs • 8/20/2015 • Unabridged

    On the afternoon of July 1, 1776, Caesar Rodney received a letter from a fellow Delaware delegate urging him to return to Philadelphia at once. The congress was on the verge of casting the vote for independence. Battling bad weather and physical handicaps, Caesar Rodney embarked on a journey that would change the course of history. Here is the dramatic story of that ride, set against the extraordinary events of July 1776, with the remarkable men who shaped them, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Caesar Rodney. Jan Cheripko presents the burning issues of that time, the men who fought for them, and the story of the great patriot whose breakneck ride for freedom served to ensure the birth of the United States.

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    Caesar Rodney’s Ride

    0.5 hrs • 8/20/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 13.8 hrs • 2/3/2015 • Unabridged

    A vivid, insightful, essential new account of the formative years that shaped a callow George Washington into an extraordinary leader George Washington was famously unknowable, but Robert Middlekauff penetrates the mystique to reveal the fears, values, and passions that drove him. Rich in psychological details regarding Washington’s temperament, idiosyncrasies, and experiences, this book shows us a self-conscious Washington who grew in confidence and experience as a young soldier, businessman, and Virginian gentleman and was transformed into an American patriot by the revolutionary ferment of the 1760s and ’70s. Taking command of an army constantly in dire need—without adequate food, weapons, and even clothing and shoes, right up until the end—Washington displayed incredible persistence and resourcefulness and evolved into a leader who understood perhaps better than anyone the crucial role the army had to play in the formation of a new American society. Washington was at the heart not just of the revolution’s course and outcome but also the success of the nation that it produced. This is an essential book for understanding the character of one of America’s great figures.

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    Washington's Revolution

    13.8 hrs • 2/3/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 20.6 hrs • 11/11/2014 • Unabridged

    Over 350,000 intrepid English men, women, and children migrated to America in the seventeenth century, leaving behind their homeland for an uncertain future on distant shores. Whether they settled in Jamestown, Salem, or Barbados, these early English migrants—entrepreneurs, soldiers, and pilgrims alike—sought to re-create their old country in the new land. Yet as Malcolm Gaskill reveals in Between Two Worlds, colonists’ efforts to remake England and retain their Englishness proved impossible. As they strove to leave their mark on the New World, they too were altered: by harsh wilderness, by illness and infighting, and by bloody battles with Indians. Gradually acclimating to their new environment, later generations realized that they were perhaps not even English at all. These were the first Americans, and their newfound independence would propel them along the path toward rebellion. A major work of transatlantic history, Between Two Worlds brilliantly illuminates the long, complicated, and often traumatic process by which English colonists became American.

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    Between Two Worlds by Malcolm Gaskill

    Between Two Worlds

    20.6 hrs • 11/11/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 17.2 hrs • 9/16/2014 • Unabridged

    Written from a strikingly fresh perspective, this new account of the Boston Tea Party and the origins of the American Revolution shows how a lethal blend of politics, personalities, and economics led to a war that few people welcomed but nobody could prevent. In this powerful but fair-minded narrative, British author Nick Bunker tells the story of the last three years of mutual embitterment that preceded the outbreak of America’s war for independence in 1775. It was a tragedy of errors, in which both sides shared responsibility for a conflict that cost the lives of at least twenty thousand Britons and a still larger number of Americans. The British and the colonists failed to see how swiftly they were drifting toward violence until the process had gone beyond the point of no return. At the heart of the book lies the Boston Tea Party, an event that arose from fundamental flaws in the way the British managed their affairs. By the early 1770s, Great Britain had become a nation addicted to financial speculation, led by a political elite beset by internal rivalry and increasingly baffled by a changing world. When the East India Company came close to collapse, it patched together a rescue plan whose disastrous side effect was the destruction of the tea. With lawyers in London calling the Tea Party treason, and with hawks in Parliament crying out for revenge, the British opted for punitive reprisals without foreseeing the resistance they would arouse. For their part, Americans underestimated Britain’s determination not to give way. By the late summer of 1774, when the rebels in New England began to arm themselves, the descent into war had become irreversible. Drawing on careful study of primary sources from Britain and the United States, An Empire on the Edge sheds new light on the Tea Party’s origins and on the roles of such familiar characters as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Thomas Hutchinson. The book shows how the king’s chief minister, Lord North, found himself driven down the road to bloodshed. At his side was Lord Dartmouth, the colonial secretary, an evangelical Christian renowned for his benevolence. In a story filled with painful ironies, perhaps the saddest was this: that Dartmouth, a man who loved peace, had to write the dispatch that sent the British army out to fight.

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    An Empire on the Edge

    17.2 hrs • 9/16/14 • Unabridged
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  9. 13.7 hrs • 5/6/2014 • Unabridged

    When we look back on our nation’s history, the American Revolution can feel almost like a foregone conclusion. In reality, the first weeks of the war were much more tenuous, and a fractured and ragtag group of colonial militias had to coalesce to have even the slimmest chance of toppling the mighty British Army. American Spring follows a fledgling nation from Paul Revere’s little-known ride of December 1774 and the first shots fired on Lexington Green through the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill, culminating with a Virginian named George Washington taking command of colonial forces on July 3, 1775. Focusing on the colorful heroes John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry, and the ordinary Americans caught up in the revolution, Walter Borneman tells the story of how a decade of discontent erupted into an armed rebellion that forged our nation.

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    American Spring

    13.7 hrs • 5/6/14 • Unabridged
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  10. 14.2 hrs • 1/16/2014 • Unabridged

    Mac Griswold’s The Manor is the biography of a uniquely American place that has endured through wars great and small, through fortunes won and lost, through histories bright and sinister—and of the family that has lived there since its founding as a New England slave plantation three and a half centuries ago. In 1984, the landscape historian Mac Griswold was rowing along a Long Island creek when she came upon a stately yellow house and a garden guarded by looming boxwoods. She instantly knew that boxwoods that large—twelve feet tall, fifteen feet wide—had to be hundreds of years old. So, as it happened, was the house: Sylvester Manor had been held in the same family for eleven generations. Formerly encompassing all of Shelter Island, a pearl of 8,000 acres caught between the North and South Forks of Long Island, the manor had dwindled to 243 acres. Still, its hidden vault proved to be full of revelations and treasures, including the 1666 charter for the land, and correspondence from Thomas Jefferson. Most notable was the short and steep flight of steps the family had called the “slave staircase,” which would provide clues to the extensive but little-known story of Northern slavery. Alongside a team of archaeologists, Griswold began a dig that would uncover a landscape bursting with stories. Based on years of archival and field research, as well as voyages to Africa, the West Indies, and Europe, The Manor is at once an investigation into forgotten lives and a sweeping drama that captures our history in all its richness and suffering. It is a monumental achievement.

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    The Manor

    14.2 hrs • 1/16/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 0.4 hrs • 11/25/2013 • Unabridged

    The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave is a study of slave making. It describes the rationale and the results of Anglo Saxon’s ideas and methods of insuring the master/slave relationship. The infamous Willie Lynch letter gives both African and Caucasian students and teachers some insight, concerning the brutal and inhumane psychology behind the African slave trade. The materialistic viewpoint of Southern plantation owners that slavery was a business, and the victims of chattel slavery were merely pawns in an economic game of debauchery, crossbreeding, interracial rape, and mental conditioning of a negroid race they considered subhuman.  Equally important is the international nature of the European economic, political and cultural climate that influenced the slave trade. Within the time scale of African history, it was a relatively short period, a mere one and a half centuries from the most intensive phase of the Atlantic slave trade to the advent of European administration and dominance. Long before that, the Slave Coast had been chartered by the Portuguese and the people off the area west of Benin, between the Volta River and Lagos. European traders traced a cultural history which linked them with the earliest Yoruba settlements to the north and eastern borders of Africa.

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  12. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    26.2 hrs • 8/13/2013 • Unabridged

    Bernard Bailyn gives us a compelling, fresh account of the first great transit of people from Britain, Europe, and Africa to British North America, their involvements with each other, and their struggles with the indigenous peoples of the eastern seaboard. The immigrants were a mixed multitude. They came from England, the Netherlands, the German and Italian states, France, Africa, Sweden, and Finland, and they moved to the western hemisphere for different reasons, from different social backgrounds and cultures. They represented a spectrum of religious attachments. In the early years, their stories are not mainly of triumph but of confusion, failure, violence, and the loss of civility as they sought to normalize situations and recapture lost worlds. It was a thoroughly brutal encounter—not only between the Europeans and native peoples and between Europeans and Africans but among Europeans themselves, as they sought to control and prosper in the new configurations of life that were emerging around them.

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    The Barbarous Years

    26.2 hrs • 8/13/13 • Unabridged
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  13. 3.2 hrs • 8/1/2013 • Unabridged

    The most prominent American philosopher-theologian of his time, Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was a spiritual giant in a day when spirituality was highly prized. He is best known for contributing a vast body of writings to the evangelical community on not only theological issues, many of which still challenge scholars, but also metaphysics, ethics, and psychology. His influence is felt today through his published works and godly example. Edwards became the pastor of the church at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1724. His powerful preaching launched the Great Awakening in 1734 and 1735 and a geographically more extensive revival in 1740 and 1741. He became a firm friend of George Whitefield, then evangelizing in America, who continued to promote the revival. Edwards was called to the presidency of the then nascent Princeton College shortly before his death.

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  14. 1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
    13.2 hrs • 7/9/2013 • Unabridged

    The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country’s founders would likely have viewed police as they exist today as a standing army and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in America today. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing—one that would have shocked the conscience of America’s founders. Rise of the Warrior Cop traces the arc of US law enforcement from the constables and private justice of colonial times to present-day SWAT teams and riot cops. Today relentless “war on drugs” and “war on terror” pronouncements from politicians, along with battle-clad police forces with tanks and machine guns, have dangerously blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. Balko’s fascinating, frightening narrative shows how martial rhetoric and reactionary policies have put modern law enforcement on a collision course with the values of a free society.

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    Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley Balko

    Rise of the Warrior Cop

    13.2 hrs • 7/9/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 13.0 hrs • 4/30/2013 • Unabridged

    Nathaniel Philbrick, the bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea and Mayflower, brings his prodigious talents to the story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution. Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord. In June, however, with the city is cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists. Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a thirty-three year old physician named Joseph Warren who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill. Others in the cast include Paul Revere; Warren’s fiancé, Mercy Scollay; a newly recruited George Washington; the reluctant British combatant General Thomas Gage; and his more bellicose successor William Howe, who leads the three charges at Bunker Hill and presides over the claustrophobic cauldron of a city under siege as both sides play a nervy game of brinkmanship for control. With passion and insight, Philbrick reconstructs the revolutionary landscape—geographic and ideological—in a mesmerizing narrative of the robust, messy, blisteringly real origins of America.

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    Bunker Hill

    13.0 hrs • 4/30/13 • Unabridged
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  16. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    14.3 hrs • 2/19/2013 • Unabridged

    “If it is possible to understand the American paradox, the marriage of slavery and freedom, Virginia is surely the place to begin,” writes Edmund S. Morgan in American Slavery, American Freedom, a study of the tragic contradiction at the core of America. Morgan finds the key to this central paradox in the people and politics of the state that was both the birthplace of the revolution and the largest slaveholding state in the country. American Slavery, American Freedom won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Albert J. Beveridge Award.

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    American Slavery, American Freedom

    14.3 hrs • 2/19/13 • Unabridged
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