The Early Modern Commons

Recent Book Reviews

Book reviews from the last 6 months.

EMA Book Reviews: March 2017

The most recent EMA list of open-access book reviews is available here and under “Research.”
From Early Modern Architecture on 7 Mar 2017

EMA Book Reviews: October 2016

The most recent EMA list of open-access book reviews is available here and under “Research.”
From Early Modern Architecture on 31 Oct 2016

“Meditations on Archival Fragments”: Review of Dispossessed Lives

It should go without saying that the historical profession depends on archives. Near or far, we need those repositories to craft historical narratives about past worlds. There is also no shortage of books...
From The Junto on 26 Apr 2017

Tom Feelings and Revolutionary Black History

I had the honor of meeting the artist Tom Feelings shortly before his death in 2003 when I drove him to a writers’ conference in New Hampshire. Feelings was then speaking about his monumental book...
From Boston 1775 on 22 Nov 2016

In Bed with the Georgians by Mike Rendell

Well, this is a romp — a right rollicking ride through the 18th-century world of courtesans, harlots, bigamists, rapists, pimps, brothels, bagnios, profligates and narcissists. Along the way we meet...
From Naomi Clifford on 20 Mar 2017

Caroline Cox’s Young Continentals

Caroline Cox’s Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution was published earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Press.Unfortunately, Cox, a professor at the University of the Pacific,...
From Boston 1775 on 23 Nov 2016

Guest Review: Never Caught: Ona Judge, the Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave

Guest poster Shana L. Haines reviews Erica Dunbar's new book, "Never Caught: Ona Judge, the Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave."
From The Junto on 17 Feb 2017

“A good bit of adventure, audacity, and downright Yankee ingenuity”

When I was in Williamsburg last week, George Wildrick kindly alerted me to the fact that Muzzleloader magazine had reviewed The Road to Concord in its September-October 2016 issue.So I really must share...
From Boston 1775 on 5 Apr 2017

“Mixing the Sacred Character, With That of the Statesman”: Review of Pulpit and Nation

According to Spencer McBride, "Americans began to think of themselves as members of a new [nation] in large part because their trusted spiritual leaders told them that they were."
From The Junto on 16 Mar 2017

Australian Book Review (ABR) Fellowships and Literary Prizes – Call For Applications

The Australian Book Review is seeking applications/entries for the following Fellowships and Literary Prizes: 2017 ABR RAFT Fellowship ($7,500) – closes 10 March 2017 ABR Eucalypt Fellowship ($7,500)...
From ANZAMEMS Inc on 21 Feb 2017

Defiance: The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard: Book Review

We were absolutely thrilled to be contacted by Faber and Faber to ask if we would like to review Stephen Taylor’s latest book which is due for release today, Defiance: The Life and Choices of...
From All Things Georgian on 3 Nov 2016

Review: Silence by Shūsaku Endō

Shūsaku Endō (1923-1996) was a Japanese writer famed for incorporating his Roman Catholicism as a theme into his work. Silence, originally published in 1966 is a novel set in the 1630s and...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 22 Feb 2017

Reading about Rick Beyer’s Rivals unto Death

Rivals Unto Death: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr is a retelling of the political rivalry that led to the most famous fatal duel in U.S. history. It comes from Rick Beyer, an author and filmmaker from...
From Boston 1775 on 20 Feb 2017

Guest Review: Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America

David Silverman writes that Native Americans sought European guns to halt the ravages of colonization—but ended up transforming their world.
From The Junto on 3 Mar 2017

Review and Giveaway: THE DARK LADY'S MASK by Mary Sharratt

Once again, Mary Sharratt captivates readers with a compelling tale of an extraordinary woman carving a place for herself in a man's world. THE DARK LADY'S MASK (available in paperback April 11) fictionalizes...
From Writing the Renaissance on 7 Apr 2017

Book review: A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages that Changed History by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden

Sarah Murden and Joanne Major, authors of the much-praised All Things Georgian website, have once again used their formidable genealogical and investigative skills to conjure an amazing tale out of...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Longmore’s Invention of George Washington

In 1771 George Washington ordered a bookplate incorporating his family coat-of-arms to be engraved and asked for more than 400 printed copies. He didn’t have anywhere near 400 books at the time....
From Boston 1775 on 21 Nov 2016

Book review: Body Snatchers: Digging up the Untold Stories of Britain’s Resurrection Men by Suzie Lenno

Suzie Lennox travelled far and wide in Scotland and England to investigate stories of bodysnatching and to document the unusual buildings or structures in graveyards to prevent it. This grisly business...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Book Review: “The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted” (2017)

Stefan Huygebaert et al (eds.), The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted (Tielt: Lannoo, 2016), 205pp. ISBN9789401440417 RRP £20. This lavishly illustrated book is related to a recent...

The Final “Parker’s Revenge” Archeology Report

Last month the Friends of Minute Man National Park published the final report on the Parker’s Revenge Archeological Project. I first posted about this project back in 2012 when it was just getting...
From Boston 1775 on 26 Nov 2016

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

As I’m no longer bound by deadlines for my own work, I’ve been making progress on my list of books to read for fun. One of these was The Miniaturist, which was published in 2015 and widely...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 12 Apr 2017

Revolutionary Review: Armitage’s Civil Wars: A History in Ideas

Book Review Armitage, David. Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. New York: Knopf, 2017. 349 pp. Reviewed by Bryan Banks In his Reflections on Revolution in France, Edmund Burke, the Irish Whig and...
From Age of Revolutions on 10 Apr 2017

Alchemy related book review – Dragon’s blood and Willow Bark by Toni Mount

So I thought I’d do a partial book review, covering my area of expertise. The victim this time is Toni Mount. Don’t worry, she is far superior to Jonathan Hughes, and her book is worth having...
From distillatio on 6 Mar 2017

Book Talk at the Massachusetts State Library, 29 Nov.

I’m pleased to report that The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War is now available in digital form for both the Kindle and Nook readers, as well as through iBooks....
From Boston 1775 on 25 Nov 2016

Book review: Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe by Geri Walton

This biography of the sweet-natured, loyal and tragic Princess Marie Louise of Savoy, who on marriage to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon-Penthièvre became the Princesse de Lamballe, is a welcome addition...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Manufacturing Bodies: A Review of Slavery at Sea

Writing a book review a day after Karin Wulf’s entertaining analysis of what makes for a good review might be hubris at its worst, or simply bad timing. And, while I will never have the expertise,...
From The Junto on 10 Jan 2017

My Favorite Books from 2016; or, a Christmas Book List for Your Early American History Nerd Friends

2016 sucked in a lot of ways. Future historians will likely give lots of attention to this year and its events, and not with a positive assessment. But while we cope with this new reality, we at least...
From The Junto on 19 Dec 2016

History (of Science) Books by Women

Last weekend saw several major newspapers publishing their books of the year list. Unfortunately these displayed, in several aspects, a serious lack of balance. Science and history of science books came...
From The Renaissance Mathematicus on 1 Dec 2016

He fought for his mother

There are not many books about the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler in which he only plays a supporting role but this is the case in Ulinka Rublack’s The Astronomer and the...
From The Renaissance Mathematicus on 11 Jan 2017

Review: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Sophia is the beautiful and much-younger wife of Cornelius, a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam. Her husband is quite likeable and rather amusing, and she is content enough with the life she leads with him....
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 24 Feb 2017

Book review: Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon

Despite the title, this is a lively jaunt through ALL the royal courts of Europe, not just that of Great Britain, and is all the better for it – because she points up the intricate genealogical ties...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Review: The American Revolution Reborn

Christopher Minty reviews "The American Revolution Reborn."
From The Junto on 6 Mar 2017

A “(Mostly) True” Picture Book Landing Now

On Publishers Weekly’s new list of the best picture books of the year is A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, written by Matthew Olshan...
From Boston 1775 on 12 Nov 2016

Book review: An Infamous Mistress by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden

This is the most complete biography of a figure who is largely forgotten in histories of the late 18th century. Women’s voices, of course, are seldom quoted in conventional histories, and courtesans,...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Review: Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

A few years ago, I went to a classical violin concert at the Wigmore Hall in London. The music selected was the kind you tend to get on Radio 3, slightly weird, postmodern, and lacking any discernible...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 29 Apr 2017

Studying Musket Balls with Daniel M. Sivilich

One of the experts who contributed expertise to the “Parker’s Revenge” project I discussed yesterday is Daniel M. Sivilich, predident of the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological...
From Boston 1775 on 27 Nov 2016


When I dropped out of academia (for the second time in my life) in the early 1990s, because of serious (mental) health problems, I throttled back my life-long interest in the history of science, giving...
From The Renaissance Mathematicus on 25 Jan 2017

The J.A.R. Starting the Year Off Big

Over at the Journal of the American Revolution, there have been several articles of interest this year already. And not just because they arose out of conversations involving me.First, the organization...
From Boston 1775 on 11 Jan 2017

Book review: Summer in the Shadow of Byron by Andrew McConnell Stott

I highly recommend this brilliant book about the two flawed unfortunates on the sidelines of Byron’s Italian sojourn. Both very much wanted to be closer to the man: John Polidori, his juvenile doctor,...
From Naomi Clifford on 7 Jan 2017

Putting Down Rebels

The first ten issues of the Rebels comic book have been collected in a single volume from Dark Horse. The series was conceived and scripted by Brian Wood on the model of his Northlanders series about Vikings:...
From Boston 1775 on 2 Dec 2016