American Tempest by Harlow Giles Unger audiobook

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

By Harlow Giles Unger
Read by William Hughes

Blackstone Publishing, Blackstone Publishing 9780306819629
8.20 Hours Unabridged
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On Thursday, December 16, 1773, an estimated seven dozen men, many amateurishly disguised as Indians—then a symbol of freedom—dumped about £10,000 worth of tea in the harbor. Whatever their motives at the time, they unleashed a social, political, and economic firestorm that would culminate in the Declaration of Independence two and a half years later. The Boston Tea Party provoked a reign of terror in Boston and other American cities, as Americans began inflicting unimaginable barbarities on each other. Tea parties erupted up and down the colonies. The turmoil stripped tens of thousands of Americans of their dignity, their homes, their properties, and their birthrights—in the name of liberty and independence. Nearly 100,000 Americans left the land of their forefathers forever in what was history’s largest exodus of Americans from America. Nonetheless, John Adams called the Boston Tea Party nothing short of “magnificent.” And he went on to say that the “destruction of tea is so bold, so daring, so firm…it must have important consequences.” Ironically, few if any Americans today—even those who call themselves Tea Party Patriots—would be able to name even one of the estimated eighty participants in the original Boston Tea Party. Nor are many Americans aware of the “important consequences” of the Tea Party. The acute shortage of tea that followed the Tea Party, of course, helped transform Americans into coffee drinkers, but its effects went far beyond culinary tastes. The Tea Party would affect so many American minds, hearts, and souls that it helped spawn a new, independent nation whose citizens would govern themselves.

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Summary

Summary

A Boston Globe bestseller

On Thursday, December 16, 1773, an estimated seven dozen men, many amateurishly disguised as Indians—then a symbol of freedom—dumped about £10,000 worth of tea in the harbor. Whatever their motives at the time, they unleashed a social, political, and economic firestorm that would culminate in the Declaration of Independence two and a half years later.

The Boston Tea Party provoked a reign of terror in Boston and other American cities, as Americans began inflicting unimaginable barbarities on each other. Tea parties erupted up and down the colonies. The turmoil stripped tens of thousands of Americans of their dignity, their homes, their properties, and their birthrights—in the name of liberty and independence. Nearly 100,000 Americans left the land of their forefathers forever in what was history’s largest exodus of Americans from America. Nonetheless, John Adams called the Boston Tea Party nothing short of “magnificent.” And he went on to say that the “destruction of tea is so bold, so daring, so firm…it must have important consequences.”

Ironically, few if any Americans today—even those who call themselves Tea Party Patriots—would be able to name even one of the estimated eighty participants in the original Boston Tea Party. Nor are many Americans aware of the “important consequences” of the Tea Party. The acute shortage of tea that followed the Tea Party, of course, helped transform Americans into coffee drinkers, but its effects went far beyond culinary tastes.

The Tea Party would affect so many American minds, hearts, and souls that it helped spawn a new, independent nation whose citizens would govern themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Harlow Giles Unger has taken a much-written-about subject from America’s past and looked at it with fresh eyes, finding insights and drawing conclusions that will startle not a few people.” Thomas Fleming, New York Times bestselling author
“Never has a meticulous, well-written history of the Boston Tea Party, the ultimate tax revolt, 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’s narrative paints a wonderful portrait of Colonial Boston, especially the merchant community, which dominated its politics.” Boston Globe
“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.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A solidly researched account of the 1773 Boston Tea Party…Well-delineated, contrarian history.” Kirkus Reviews
“Considering the incident’s resonance for the current Tea Party movement, Unger’s history allows timely comparison of the original and its contemporary namesake.” Booklist

Reviews

Reviews

by Bertie Wooster 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Irreversible Decline?

I’ve come to appreciate Harlow Giles Unger’s work as the perfect sort of history for audio. While his books are chock full of good details and telling insights, his style is easy on the ears. True, the ease of listening may be due to reading habits. Over the past 15 years I’ve read a lot about the causes and course of the American Revolution. But while everything here was more or less familiar, much was new—I didn’t know, for example, that John Hancock’s great grandfather, the “Bishop”, had founded Lexington Massachusetts, of all places.

The value of any history is really the perspective that the historian brings to it. In this case, Unger’s evenhandedness gives a picture of real human beings on both sides of the water, caught in difficult times and conflicting loyalties. He shows us the tragedy of the Loyalists, forced to flee the land that had been home to their families for a century and a half. He reminds us that even the most towering figures—Washington, John Adams, John Hancock, Edmund Burke—are capable of fluctuations of feeling, irresolution and a natural interest in their own interests. He explains how the establishment of an independent republic failed to deliver the civil rights—or the abolition of all taxes—promised to the people in the heady days of the Tea Party. And the best part? None of this is done to “deconstruct” or “demythologize”; Unger is simply giving us a fully rounded picture of the emergence of the “Glorious Cause”.

True, there are some flies in this otherwise excellent ointment. Once again we are told that a bunch of ragged farmers stood up to “crack troops” from the world’s best-trained army. Actually, by the spring of 1775 a new generation of soldiers filled the ranks of the army that had scaled the heights at Quebec, a generation that may have been trained but had never seen combat. While Britain had the world’s best navy—and even that arm of the service was in some disrepair—her army, always the poor stepchild in the island kingdom, would come in second when compared to, say, Frederick the Great’s Prussians.

But I can point to only two or three real faults. First, Unger repeatedly tells us that tea had become a fashionable beverage among fashionable colonial ladies. Each time he tells us, it sounds as if he’s telling us for the first time. Very strange that Unger’s editor didn’t do something about that. His stats on the American tea boycott get garbled, too; sometimes it sounds as if the boycott was effective, sometimes not.

Secondly, and more seriously, in the second to last chapter Unger claims that the shots fired on Lexington Green, “ignited a revolution that would send the world’s greatest empire into irreversible decline”. Really? The British Empire in 1775—in terms of territory, treasure and population—was as nothing to what it would be in 1875. And this most expansive of imperial projects only started its decline with the advent of the First World War.

But the core of the book—the story of how men like Sam Adams, who sparked a revolution with a “tempest” of incendiary language and stage-managed street violence, saw that revolution slip into the hands of more moderate, polished statesman—is essential to understanding the vast web of ironies that made America.

William Hughes is a fine narrator—a little anonymous, but that may be best for a work of history.

Author

Author Bio: Harlow Giles Unger

Author Bio: Harlow Giles Unger

Harlow Giles Unger, a former distinguished visiting fellow in American history at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator, and historian. He is the author of more than twenty books, including several biographies of the Founding Fathers. He has also authored histories of the early Republic as well as numerous books on American education. He lives in New York.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 8.20
Audience: Adult
Language: English