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Boston’s Massacre

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$21.00 • £18.95 • €19.95

ISBN 9780674237384

Publication Date: 03/04/2019


384 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

24 photos, 5 maps

Belknap Press


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Fascinating… Hinderaker’s meticulous research shows that the Boston Massacre was contested from the beginning… [Its] contested meanings have plenty to tell us about America’s identity, past and present.—Mark Spencer, Wall Street Journal

In this engaging study, Eric Hinderaker offers a masterclass in how to peel back the layers of data, scholarship, and propaganda to understand what we call the Boston Massacre… Thanks to Hinderaker we learn how over the past 250 years the Boston Massacre has been refought, rethought, or quietly restated.—Bob Carey, The Metropole

Using the Boston Massacre as a case study, [Hinderaker] highlights how moments of extreme intensity shape an observer’s understanding of that moment and the subsequent narratives that followed.—M. A. Byron, Choice

In his examination of the 1770 Boston Massacre, Hinderaker deftly explores the characters of British leaders, American administrators, and those who stirred what many considered a mob… The author ably exposes the symbolic import of the massacre as it defined the limits of legitimate authority and of legitimate popular protest.Kirkus Reviews

Readers are left with a nuanced understanding of the way we shape historical narratives after any major event… A compelling and well-researched account of the Boston Massacre, for readers seeking more refined studies of early American history.—Jessica Holland, Library Journal

Hinderaker claims no definitive version of the event, instead offering a thoughtful meditation on the episode’s significance for shared American identity and memory. Untangling the complex circumstances under which Britain stationed thousands of troops in Boston in the peacetime of 1768, Hinderaker maps the colonial anxieties regarding imperial control that came to a head with the shootings… He ends with a provocative…reflection on the massacre’s symbolic resonance with more recent examples of police brutality, making this book important reading for anyone interested in questions regarding the limits of authority and protest.Publishers Weekly

Seldom does the book appear that compels its readers both to rethink a signal event in American history and reexamine powerful assumptions about historical knowledge itself. It’s even rarer for an author to accomplish so formidable a feat in prose of sparkling clarity and grace. But this is such a book, and Eric Hinderaker just such an author: Boston’s Massacre is a gem.—Fred Anderson, author of Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766

Hinderaker illuminates the events of March 5, 1770, from a host of unexpected angles, from its military origins and the possibility of an additional shooter, to the Kent State comparison that thrust itself upon the nation two hundred years later.—Woody Holton, author of Abigail Adams

Eric Hinderaker widens our understanding of the Boston Massacre and the origins of the American Revolution. By setting this stirring event in the context of New England’s involvement in Britain’s colonial wars, and by depicting the occupying British army as a social force of considerable power, this elegant book gives us a far richer account of how military occupation pushed Boston into rebellion.—Mark A. Peterson, author of The Price of Redemption: The Spiritual Economy of Puritan New England

In Boston’s Massacre, Eric Hinderaker brilliantly unpacks the creation of competing narratives around a traumatic and confusing episode of violence. With deft insight, careful research, and lucid writing, Hinderaker shows how the bloodshed in one Boston street became pivotal to making and remembering a revolution that created a nation.—Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1804

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