Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nathaniel Philbrick

From a Q & A with author Nathaniel Philbrick about his new book, Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution:

Q: You are the author of In the Heart of the Sea and Mayflower, among other books. Each takes a piece of history we all think we know about and brings to life aspects that aren’t part of common lore. In BUNKER HILL you do the same. What piqued your interest in Bunker Hill?

By writing BUNKER HILL, I’ve actually returned to the subject and the place where my love of history began. When I was in the fifth grade in Pittsburgh I was captivated by Esther Forbes’s historical novel Johnny Tremain. Even after I’d studied American history in high school, college, and beyond, I still found myself longing to know more about what unfolded in and around Boston during the early years of the Revolution. Before settling on Nantucket, my wife and I lived for a year in Boston, and it was while pushing my daughter’s stroller through the crooked streets of the North End that I first began to think seriously about writing about the past. And, as has been true with all my previous books, once I started researching, I quickly realized that the truth about what happened to the inhabitants of Boston during the two and a half years between the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 and the evacuation of the British troops in March 1776 was much more complex, disturbing, inspiring, and just plain interesting than I could have ever imagined.

Q: How have your past books informed your research and writing for BUNKER HILL?

My book Mayflower ends with the horrendous Native-English conflict known as King Philip’s War, which was fought a century before the events described in BUNKER HILL. Almost as soon as I started my research on this book, I began to understand that the American Revolution was as much about the unfinished business associated with that earlier era as it was about issues like liberty, freedom, and taxation without representation. For the farmers in the outlying towns of New England—the ones who fought and died at Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill—the Revolution wasn’t about their frustrations with Parliament; it was about...[read on]
Read about Nathaniel Philbrick's seven favorite history books.

--Marshal Zeringue