OK, OK. No list. I'm working on it!
Boston Reading List
Following is Hub Blog's official Boston Reading List, assuming you want to learn more about the hub of the universe that you now inhabit, literally or digitally.* The tough standards for getting on the list were: 1.) I had to have read the book. 2.) It helped explain how Boston ticks. 3.) I enjoyed it. In historic chronological order (sort of) and cribbed from an earlier post
(sort of): Mayflower
by Nathaniel Philbrick. Mayflower fills in so many historical gaps: the Puritans, Mayflower Compact, Pokanokets, Massasoit, Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving, King Philip's War. It's all here. Highly enjoyable read for history buffs.Captors and Captives
by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney. Focuses on the 1704 Deerfield Raid and the little-known Queen Anne's War in between King Philip's War and the French and Indian War -- but it's really about the hard everyday lives of Indians and colonial-era settlers.Paul Revere's Ride
by David Hackett Fischer. Fischer shows how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had it right and the revisionists have it wrong: Revere was a common-man hero of his time and deserved to be rescued from obscurity by the poet. Fischer's description of the dramatic events of April 19, 1775 is first-rate.Now We Are Enemies
by Thomas J. Fleming. Read this after reading Paul Revere's Ride. Bunker Hill was an epic showdown with long-term military and political ramifications for both Americans and the British.The Flowering of New England – 1815-1865
by Van Wyck Brooks. A rich and detailed look at how a Puritanical society transformed into a more open Universalist society that produced the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott and other literary figures. Winner of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize, ‘Flowering of New England’ is a difficult read -- but well worth the effort. Back Bay
by William Martin. It's light. It's corny. It's a James Michener-like novel. But it's an entertaining book that provides a sweeping history of 18th, 19th and early 20th century Boston.The Last Hurrah
by Edwin O'Connor. A fictional look at James Michael Curley and the Irish-Yankee battles of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Key to understanding Boston politics.Make Way for Ducklings
by Robert McCloskey. It's a Boston institution. The fact Bostonians so cherish the book says much about how Bostonians perceive the charm of their city. When you stand at Charles and Beacon and proudly think of the book, you know you're a Bostonian.Friends of Eddie Coyle
by George V. Higgins. Before the true nature of the Irish mob became apparent in the '80s and '90s, Higgins was writing about it in novels in the '70s. The book is so good it almost proves life imitates art. The Boston dialogue is pitch perfect. Common Ground
by J. Anthony Lukas. The one book you need to read if you're going to understand contemporary Boston. It's about busing in the 1970s. But it's much, much more. It's about race, ethnic and class politics, and a city tragedy no matter how you view busing. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Common Ground is considered one of the top non-fiction American books of the 20th Century. Black Mass
by Gerard O'Neill and Dick Lehr. The nonfiction story of how Whitey Bulger and his gangster cronies corrupted the local FBI -- and local politics. Brothers Bulger
by Howie Carr. Think of a cross between Black Mass and Mike Royko's Boss
. You'll laugh out loud at the most gruesome things.
* This list is a work in progress. I know it should include books such as Henry James's The Bostonians.
But I haven't read The Bostonians -- and many other classics. I might get to them one day. Still, you can't go wrong with the list above. Good Boston primers. ... Hat tip to Dan Zarella
for getting the ball rolling on essential Boston books, as well as to Charles
. Next up on my reading list (or one of these days): The Hub
by Thomas H. O'Connor and The Proper Bostonians
by Cleveland Amory. ... If you have suggestions or comments, please write to me at jayfitzgerald20 at hotmail.comUpdate
-- Since posting this list, a number of readers have written in with their own suggestions -- here
. Check them out. I particularly liked Stephen's recommendation of 'The Flowering of New England,'
which I haven't read yet. .. Update to update: I've since read 'Flowering.' It made the list. See above.
Greatest Boston Moments
Since you have stumbled upon Hub Blog, you might as well know more about Boston, the Hub of the Universe. Following is a blog primer of Great Moments in Boston History. All facts are true. Everything else is not.1620
English Puritans, aiming for mouth of Hudson River, accidently hit Cape Cod. Steal Indian corn and property. Start constructing Utopia in nearby Plymouth.1630
City of Boston founded. Future site of Boston Garden secured. Cows let loose to trample out street grid.1636
Harvard College founded. Eventually dominates upstart Yale and future U.S. News & World Report college-ranking lists.1675
Forerunner of Plymouth Trial Lawyers Association sparks brutal King Philip's War with one too many shady land deals with Indians.1692
Witches found in Salem north of Boston. Guilty as charged. Hung.1706
Benjamin Franklin born in Boston. Philadelphia later claims him. Fierce tourism battle begins.1770
Boston patriots throw ice balls at British troops. British troops respond with musketballs. Boston patriots cry foul.1773
Boston patriots, dressed as Indians, dump tea into Boston Harbor. Water polluted for next 225 years, giving George Bush I a great photo-op during 1988 campaign.1775 (April
British troops march to Lexington and Concord. Boston-area Minutemen kick British butt. American Revolution started.1775 (June)
Israel Putnam, commander of American forces at Bunker Hill, picks wrong hill to defend. American Minutemen lose battle but kick British butt anyway.1776 (March)
Virginian George Washington forces British to evacuate Boston. Event is forever commemorated as St. Patrick's Day.1783
American Revolution, started in Boston, ends. Argumentative Bostonians immediately start laying groundwork for future Civil War.1812
War breaks out against Britain. Bostonians point south. British fall for ruse. Washington, D.C. sacked and burned. USS Constitution kicks British butt. 1840s
First great wave of Irish immigrants land in Boston, doubling number of sexually repressed and boiled-food-eating ethnic groups in city.1861-1865
American Civil War rages. Bostonians later place statue of Gen. "Fighting Joe" Hooker on State House lawn. Bostonians don't understand why. Neither do tourists.1876
Alexander Graham Bell, in Boston, makes first phone call to assistant Thomas Watson. The telecommunications tax is born.1890s
First great wave of Italian immigrants arrive in Boston. Boiled-food Bostonians are shocked at introduction of cuisine with actual 'herbs' and 'spices' in them.Early 190Os
First great wave of Russian Jewish immigrants land in Boston. Boiled food regains culinary dominance in Boston.1917
America enters World War I. Newly formed Boston-based Gillette Co. wins contract to distribute Gillette safety razors to Doughboys. America wins World War I.1930s
James Michael Curley elected to third term as mayor of Boston, threatens to flood bank vaults with sewage unless city is given a loan from business community. Decades-long economic slide begins.1941-1945
World War II rages. Boston scientists kick German and Japanese scientists' butts.1960
Boston native John F. Kennedy elected president of the United States, launching the political career of JFK II, John F. Kerry.1972
Massachusetts is only state in the Union to vote for George McGovern as president. Boston liberals in rapture.1975
Something called 'busing' occurs in city.1980/1984
Ronald Reagan carries Massachusetts in two straight presidential elections. Boston liberals in denial.Mid-1980s
Federal funding for Big Dig is secured by U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill. Most costly highway construction boondoggle in U.S. history begins.2004
Poll shows Bostonians would prefer Red Sox winning World Series over native-son John Kerry winning U.S. presidency. Red Sox win World Series. Kerry loses presidential race. Learn more about Boston history here and here and here. Send suggestions to jayfitzgerald20-at-hotmail.com
About this site
This is the personal blog of Jay Fitzgerald. The opinions expressed here are all mine. While not wearing my Hub Blog hat, I'm a freelance business journalist. I'm a former business reporter for the Boston Herald and former editor at the Boston Business Journal. Feel free to email me if you care to respond to a post or have a post tip. I regularly run what people email me.
I can be reached at jayfitzgerald20 - at - hotmail.com.