Virtual Event: Woody Holton


Liberty Is Sweet:
The Hidden History of the American Revolution

in conversation with ANNETTE GORDON-REED


November 1, 2021
7:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes WOODY HOLTON—the award-winnng author of Abigail Adams and Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution—for a discussion of his latest book, Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution. He will be joined in conversation by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian ANNETTE GORDON-REED, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.

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About Liberty Is Sweet

Using more than a thousand eyewitness accounts, Liberty Is Sweet explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers. “It is all one story,” prizewinning historian Woody Holton writes.

Holton describes the origins and crucial battles of the Revolution from Lexington and Concord to the British surrender at Yorktown, always focusing on marginalized Americans—enslaved Africans and African Americans, Native Americans, women, and dissenters—and on overlooked factors such as weather, North America’s unique geography, chance, misperception, attempts to manipulate public opinion, and (most of all) disease. Thousands of enslaved Americans exploited the chaos of war to obtain their own freedom, while others were given away as enlistment bounties to whites. Women provided material support for the troops, sewing clothes for soldiers and in some cases taking part in the fighting. Both sides courted native people and mimicked their tactics.

Liberty Is Sweet gives us our most complete account of the American Revolution, from its origins on the frontiers and in the Atlantic ports to the creation of the Constitution. Offering surprises at every turn—for example, Holton makes a convincing case that Britain never had a chance of winning the war—this majestic history revivifies a story we thought we already knew.

Praise for Libery Is Sweet

"With Liberty Is Sweet, Woody Holton once again troubles the mythical narratives of our founding and the hagiography of our 'founders' to reveal the dynamic, complicated and multiracial pressures that led to the creation of the United States. This book rightly decenters the almost exclusively white revolutionary narratives that we've all been taught and instead makes visible the influence and agency of Black and Indigenous people as well as white women, who together played such a critical, if erased, role in creating this multiracial nation. This book unsettles the reader in the best possible way, and shows once again how the simplistic histories of our founding fail to explain the divided country in which we all live." —Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project”

"Even readers who think they know all about the Revolution will find here a much broader, provocative narrative and new perspectives." —Booklist (starred review)

"A spirited account of the Revolution that brings everybody and everything into the story." —Gordon S. Wood, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard. Gordon-Reed won sixteen book prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 and the National Book Award in 2008, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2008). In addition to articles and reviews, her other works include Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Vernon Can Read! A Memoir, a collaboration with Vernon Jordan, Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History, a volume of essays that she edited, Andrew Johnson, and, with Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. Her most recent book is On Juneteenth (Liveright Publishing, 2021).

Photo Credit: Stephanie Mitchell

Woody Holton
Woody Holton

Woody Holton

Woody Holton is McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches and researches Early American history, especially the American Revolution, with a focus on economic history and on African Americans, Native Americans, and women. He is the author of several previous books, including Abigail Adams, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize; his second book, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Photo Credit: Judy Seif


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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