Independence Day

A historical, biographical, and literary celebration.



Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free

By John Ferling


Meticulously researched and richly detailed, John Ferling's history of the American Revolution follows the wildfire of defiance as it spread from Philadelphia accross the thirteen colonies. Along the way, historical figures from firebrand Sam Adams to loyalist Joseph Galloway spring to life. Of particular note is Ferling's gripping account the fierce debate that arose in Britain's Parliament about how to respond to the uprising accross the Atlantic.



As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution

By Richard Archer


The seventeen months between October 1, 1768 and the winter of 1770--during which Boston was a city under armed occupation by British troops--are the focus of Archer's unique vision of the Revolutionary War's provenance.  As Governor Bernard and others tried to respond to Britain's increasing willingness to back tax policy with military muscle, the outrage prompted by red coats in the streets pushed the city over the brink into a combat zone.  Archer's keenly focused narrative culminates in the horror of the Boston Massacre, and its frequently overlooked aftermath in the courts.



Independence Day

By Richard Ford


In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Ford follows middle-aged realtor Frank Bascombe, first introduced in The Sportswriter, through the course of a fateful July 4th weekend as he struggles with work, ex-wife, girlfriend, and children. Deceptively casual literary art makes this one of the most engaging, valuable, and unmistakably American works of fiction of the past two decades.



American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

By Joseph J. Ellis


Ellis' insightful portrait of the most intellectually complicated of the Founding Fathers reveals the contradictory character of Thomas Jefferson while charting the intellectual currents that influenced his thought--in particular his debt to political thinkers of the European Enlightenment. Winner of a 1997 National Book Award, this biography casts new light on underpinnings of the third American President's thinking.



American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence

By Pauline Maier


Maier's brilliant, cerebral history of America's founding document traces the roots and branches of the Declaration from its drafting through its sanctification in the nineteenth century and seeks to explain its enduring significance. Along the way, American Scripture illuminates many of the ideas and events that have shaped our national identity.



April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.