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American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  186 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
On Thursday, December 16, 1773, an estimated seven dozen men, many dressed as Indians, dumped roughly 10,000 worth of tea in Boston Harbor. Whatever their motives at the time, they unleashed a social, political, and economic firestorm that would culminate in the Declaration of Independence two-and-a-half years later.The Boston Tea Party provoked a reign of terror in Boston ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Da Capo Press (first published February 17th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Lauren Albert
Apr 09, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it liked it
Shelves: history-american
I thought I had fallen through the rabbit hole. A Tory version of the events leading up to and following the Boston Tea Party? 18th-century Tory, that is. In Unger's version, Samuel Adams is "sinister" and "power hungry"; Hanock is a vain ("Hancock had become enamored of his gold-braided colonel’s uniform") and self serving if generous man; and the Revolution benefited only the rich. I'll leave it to you to decide. If biased, it is still well written and provides interesting details. Here are so ...more
Lis Carey
This is a clear, highly readable, and fascinating account of the Boston Tea Party, what led up to it, what followed, and how this became the spark that created the American Revolution.

Many things have been said and repeated about the Tea Party that simply aren't true. It wasn't about the tax on tea making tea unaffordable; the tea duty had been cut to the point it was undercutting the smugglers bringing in Dutch tea. It wasn't an act of vandalism by drunken thugs. the Tea Party crew were all res
Feb 18, 2013 Gretchen rated it it was amazing
Wow! They sure didn't teach us this in school. This is a very readable account of the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party and the subsequent effects, namely the Revolution. It really made me wonder what would have happened if... If King George had read and accepted the Olive Branch Petition, If there had be no Sam Adams stirring up dissent (would someone else have filled the gap?), If the British had handled things a little differently. I thought the account was fairly unbiased and explain ...more
Lauren Csaki
Jan 11, 2015 Lauren Csaki rated it really liked it
What a really interesting book. I picked it up because I enjoyed Unger's biography of John Quincy Adams. The title here isn't necessarily misleading or inaccurate, but I must say it did not prepare me for the author's message. In a nutshell, Unger tells the story of the brewing tensions in Boston leading up to the American Revolution, from what comes across as nearly a Loyalist's point of view.

The author's opinions of the main cast of characters reads loud and clear. (Indeed, after reading read
Jan 22, 2013 Judie rated it really liked it
When I studied American History in school, I remember learning how the Americans were so upset with the British Government trying to make them pay a tax on the tea purchased from England that in December 1773 a group of them dressed like Indians boarded the ships and tossed the tea into the ocean. This action lead to the Revolutionary War, the British leaving, and the birth of the United States and its attendant rights. According to Harlow Giles Unger in AMERICAN TEMPEST, HOW THE BOSTON TEA PAR ...more
Glenn Robinson
Dec 24, 2015 Glenn Robinson rated it really liked it
Fascinating and well researched history of the events that lead up to the break with England. Much of what is taught in our schools is not much more than what Jeffrey Spiccoli thought. Researching and understanding the 'why' and the 'how' is much more involved than the simple "the King taxed our our tea, so we said 'bogus, dude!' and then we threw the tea over board!"

Learning the motives of the Bostonians is a key. John Hancock, Sam Adams and a number of others worked hard and in a time with no
Jim Angstadt
May 06, 2015 Jim Angstadt rated it really liked it
Another worthwhile read by H. G. Unger

The level of violence, guillibility, lack of foresight, and self-centeredness in individuals was surprising.
Some of the "patriot" thugs of Boston seemed to enjoy beating up people, burning houses and businesses, and violence in general. And some of the leaders played to that spirit.

The quantity of outright lies and distortions that were spread by individuals or publications was shocking; but the average colonial didn't seem to have any skepticism. They didn'
Jun 21, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

As a direct descendant of one of the 56 Boston Tea Party participants (and the only one injured there), I pretty much figured I could answer any Final Jeopardy question on the topic. Not so! American Tempest reads like a Paul Harvey tale: “Now you know . . . the rest . . . of the story.”

Events that the reader assumes he or she understands are presented in a different context and seen through another lens. (view spoiler)
Mar 20, 2016 Renee rated it really liked it
Entertaining and informative look at what was really going on during this pivotal moment in America's history. I'm traveling to Boston soon and thought I better brush up on my history - this was a great place to start! I think I knew some of this once, but some of it was definitely new information!

Interesting contrasts to today's Tea Party movement, as well. I wonder how many tea partiers understand what exactly went on back in the day. Sam Adams, while important to this story, was more of a thu
Jul 15, 2012 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history, politics
An interesting treatment of the 'revolution's' onset. Not wanting to pay for government services, and avoiding import duties by smuggling, a group of men started a revolution. A disgruntled bankrupt brewer gathered together workers, farmers, small businessmen and conned a few wealthy individuals to overthrow a government. However, the brewer, who started the whole thing saw his power taken by the wealthy, twice. The small businessmen, farmers, artisans and workers who fought for 'freedom' and th ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Jill rated it liked it
This is the real (as opposed to commonly taught) story of the Boston Tea Party and the network of greed, smuggling, bribery, and personal vendettas that provided the impetus to the American Revolution. Truly, if you want to believe in the sanctity of the pursuit of liberty and freedom from tyranny that allegedly motivated the Founding Fathers, this is a book you should avoid. Unger, a respected historian, documents in this carefully written history the way in which, as he writes:

"…many were read
Todd Martin
Jun 15, 2011 Todd Martin rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Pretty much as the title states, American Tempest looks at the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution focusing primarily on the actions of Samual Adams and John Hancock. Stripping away the folklore, these individuals were men looking out for their own interests. Just as today, taxes cut into merchants profits. It was in the interest of these wealthy individuals to provoke the unrest of the populace as a self serving means of increasing revenue (it also didn’t hurt ...more
Don Weidinger
Jan 30, 2015 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
30% of British flag ships built New England 1750, minimal cash mostly barter with no tax, first battle near Pittsburgh, French used British arms via smuggle, Hancock gardens help with firewood and food, Sons of Liberty to Tea Party, 3 groups came together with increased taxes, when 5taxed then make in New England-textiles and more.
I am just about to finish this book about the original Tea Party in America. I was amazed at the sophisticated entities that were in place even back in the early 1600. Many of the founding fathers were bankers, merchandisers, real estate investors and most of all innovated people that work through problems to a successful end.

The rulers from Britian under estimated the resolve of the citizens in the New England settlements to have control over their own property... the culmination of which ended
Mar 15, 2013 Alex rated it liked it
A very interesting telling of the Boston tea party and it's consequences as told from a Tory perspective. There is quite a skew on most of the telling in order to portray Sam Adams as the villain in all of it. While he was only a brewer at the time, it seems he did have the brains to pull it off. I just have a hard time understanding all the claims made in the book and then the about face the author makes in describing the details.

I have submitted a copy to my history professor who's thesis act
Bruce Ashby
Jun 24, 2015 Bruce Ashby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, revolution
Listened to this around the time we visited Boston. Really brought the city to life. Well written and plenty of details to fill in gaps from our tours, etc.
Jim Flanagan
May 08, 2014 Jim Flanagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. It wasn't afraid to show that even though they got us our freedom, some of the founding fathers were actually kind of a bunch of dicks.
Aug 26, 2012 Justyn rated it really liked it
A compelling tale of the Boston Tea Party without the creme or sugar added by a proud nation to the tea it serves its youth. Unger sees a different angle: one of the machinations of a politically ambitious master propagandist, Sam Adams, and of the source of John Hancock's Patriot fervor: his fear of the mob. To Harlow Giles Unger the American Revolution is less a tale of the ideals it generated. It is instead to be judged by the motivations of its creators: wealthy, propertied land owners that ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Jeff rated it it was ok
It reads like a completely biased bad history book
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
Jul 13, 2014 Gwen - Chew & Digest Books - rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audio, july, 2014
Quick and easy to follow.
Joe Chernicoff
Mar 14, 2012 Joe Chernicoff rated it it was amazing
If only this book was required reading in my American History class during mu K-12 years; unfortunately, Harlow Giles Unger wasn't around in those early days, but, notwithstanding that piece of information, this is a book that all current Tea Party people, and everyone else, should read.

John Hancock - Massachusetts, the English governors - what great times, and fortunately, what great leaders. We could use some of their ilk today. Well worth reading and adding to your library.
Jul 28, 2012 Colleen rated it liked it
In light of the recent emergence of the Republican Tea Party, I was interested in reading this book. I gained new insight regarding the people and events which combined together to result in the American revolution. While this information was interesting, the presentation was repetitive; so much so that I often found myself checking to be certain that I wasn't rereading chapters! I think the book could have been better edited. I would give it 2.5 stars.
Martin Whatwouldthefoundersthink
This book reveals the story behind Boston Tea Party. It is as much a tale of political infighting as it is an account of patriotism and sacrifice. Sam Adams, John Hancock, and James Otis and others are revealed as flawed but courageous patriots whose activities began a revolution.

Full Review
Brian Eshleman
Nov 01, 2011 Brian Eshleman rated it really liked it
Shelves: sburg-mp3

saw the disconcerting ant-authority bent of the early Revolution as well as British authorities who regarded themselves as Americans and traced roots as far back as anyone on the Patriot side. Still, author is honest about the Crown's myopia and mistakes at certain points. The interrelation of the Boston/Harvard elite before the fissure of Revolutionary events occurred is most interesting.
Amelia Digirolamo
Nov 28, 2012 Amelia Digirolamo rated it really liked it
Great Book, really takes you through the process leading up to the revolution and how the different revolutionary leaders rose to and fell out of prominence. I thought it was interesting how Unger tells you about what happened to the different revolutionary leaders after the war and what America was like in its early stages. I would highly recommend it.
Patricrk patrick
Jun 13, 2011 Patricrk patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Why did wealthy John Hancock and George Washington support american independence? Author retell the story of the Boston tea party and the peronalities involved. A good look at some of the political manuvering that led a wealthy trading colony to revolt and brought John Hancock to the front of the liberty movement.
Derek Smith
Jul 08, 2012 Derek Smith rated it liked it
I wasn't a big fan of the implication that most of our founding fathers were greedy rich guys whose reasons for liberating the colonies were purely financial. I almost put this book down several times for this reason. However, when all is said and done this was a very interesting and informative book.
Joe Ciola
Aug 06, 2013 Joe Ciola rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, own
Having grown up in New England, steeped in early American history, I was surprised when I read the details surrounding what history books conveniently overlook. Well written and detailed. Not only puts events into perspective, but puts them into a whole new, significant perspective.
Fredrick Danysh
Dec 25, 2014 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Shelves: history
There have been seeveral books written about the Boston Tea Party. This one examines individuals and their motives on both sides. It is a good read that helps define the root causes of the American Revolution.
Jul 02, 2011 Elana rated it it was ok
A little bit tedious reading but interesting in sections. Completely different than I expected or even wanted it to be. Too political and a little slanted for my tastes.
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