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The Essential Debate on the Constitution

Here are the critical arguments about the Constitution--its supporters and opponents arguing about the future of the country.  Bernard Bailyn and I edited this collection of essays to present the most important and most interesting political debate in the country's history. 

The Age of Benjamin Franklin

One of the most extraordinary people you will ever meet, Benjamin Franklin.  Here we explore Franklin's life in 24 lectures, looking at different facets of his life and times--his family, his scientific experiments, his political and literary careers, his family.  Find out more about Franklin--I enjoyed learning about him, and am sure you will as well.

The Boston Massacre

The fatal Fifth of March.  What happened that night--and why did it have such a tremendous impact?  

The Boston Tea Party

Why did the Tea Party lead to the Revolution? Why was this the moment from which there was no turning back? And what about the events of December 1773 have given it such contemporary resonance?

Stephen Decatur: American Naval hero

Stephen Decatur became at age twenty-five the youngest man ever to serve as a captain in the U.S. Navy. His intrepid heroism, leadership, and devotion to duty made him a perfect symbol of the aspirations of the growing nation. Leading men to victory in Tripoli, the War of 1812, and the Algerian war of 1815, and coining the phrase "Our country, right or wrong," Decatur created an enduring legend, celebrated in poetry, song, paintings, and the naming of dozens of towns—from Georgia to Alabama to Illinois.
Decatur’s friendships with James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and others made him a rising star in national politics. He and his wife Susan built an elegant home near the White House, which became a center of Washington society. The capital and the nation were shocked when Decatur was killed in a duel with a rival captain at the age of forty-one. Although he died prematurely, Decatur played a significant role in the shaping of the nation’s identity at a time when the American people were deciding what kind of nation they would become.

Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano's autobiography -- sometimes called a "slave narrative," though the author spent much more time as a free man than he did in slavery--is an extraordinary story. 


Olaudah Equiano (oh-la-UU-day ek-we-AH-no) takes us from Africa to America to London, to the Arctic, to Turkey, and to the coast of Honduras in this calamitous eighteenth century. 


The introduction places Equiano's Narrative in the context of the campaign over ending the Atlantic slave trade.  It also reflects on the controversy about Equiano's birthplace--was he born in Nigeria, as he says, or in the Americas, as recent scholarship has suggested? 


“The introduction enlightens as well as intrigues. It enables students with no prior background in eighteenth-century history to see the book in its character as a work of Christian witness against slavery and the slave trade, and still leaves them eager to read it as an adventure story, too.”

— Fred Anderson
University of Colorado, Boulder

My second edition of Equiano.
My first edition of Equiano.

"Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies"

Deepen your appreciation of the formative era before the birth of America with Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies. In 36 lectures, Professor Robert J. Allison tells the epic story of the events that led from the first settlement at Jamestown to the eve of the Revolutionary War. Along the way, you examine in-depth topics such as the Mayflower Compact, the Pennsylvania Quaker colony, and the French and Indian War; encounter individuals including Captain John Smith, Mary Rowlandson, and Olaudah Equiano; and explore new ideas about society, religion, agriculture, and economics that emerged from this tempestuous, eventful, and formative period in our nation's dramatic history.

Short History of Boston

Boston has a topographical history and an encyclopedia. There are histories of the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Symphony, and other great institutions in the city. But there is no good short history of the city itself, not in print anyway, not until now. With economy and style, Dr. Robert Allison brings Boston history alive, from the Puritan theocracy of the seventeenth century to the Big Dig of the twenty-first. His book includes a wealth of illustrations, a lengthy chronology of the key events in four centuries of Boston history, and twenty short profiles of exceptional Bostonians, from founder John Winthrop to heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan, from "heretic" Anne Hutchinson to Russian-American author Mary Antin. In his course on Boston history at Suffolk University, Allison leads students on walking tours of the city. A Short History of Boston is a tour through history with an engaging, knowledgeable guide.

The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World 1776-1815

From the beginning of the colonial period to the recent conflicts in the Middle East, encounters with the Muslim world have helped Americans define national identity and purpose. Focusing on America's encounter with the Barbary states of North Africa from 1776 to 1815, Robert Allison traces the perceptions and mis-perceptions of Islam in the American mind as the new nation constructed its ideology and system of government.

"A powerful ending that explains how the experience with the Barbary states compelled many Americans to look inward . . . with increasing doubts about the institution of slavery." —David W. Lesch, Middle East Journal

"Allison's incisive and informative account of the fledgling republic's encounter with the Muslim world is a revelation with a special pertinence to today's international scene." —Richard W. Bulliet, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This book should be widely read. . . . Allison's study provides a context for understanding more recent developments, such as America's tendency to demonize figures like Iran's Khumaini, Libya's Qaddafi, and Iraq's Saddam." —Richard M. Eaton, Eighteenth Century Studies

Short History of Cape Cod

Enough detail here to fascinate the historian and enough stories to fill a day at the beach. Discovered by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 and visited by the Mayflower on its way to Plymouth, Cape Cod has been the site of confrontations between Pilgrims and natives, between Patriots and Tories. Salt works and windmills, lighthouses and shipwrecks, and characters as varied as radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi and playwright Eugene O'Neill have given Cape Cod a unique landscape and a fascinating human community. 


"It's fast, informative, fascinating, and filled with images, old and new, that will keep you coming back. Get it and read it, and you'll want to get into the car and drive straight to the Cape."

--William Martin, New York Times Bestselling Author of Cape Cod and City of Dreams.

Order your copy here.