Every sub-field has its classic books. It should not take long for most of us to rattle off a couple of titles. In my field of church-state relations in the early American republic (particularly in the upper South), few books tower over the field more than Thomas E. Buckley’s Church and State in Revolutionary Virginia, 1776-1787. Despite being published thirty-six years ago references to this classic litter the footnotes of subsequent books from fellow classic histories like Rhys Isaac’s Transformation of Virginia to more recent works such as David Sehat’s Myth of American Religious Freedom. Anyone grappling with the politics of religion in early national Virginia, that overheated cauldron of disestablishment, must grapple with Buckley’s work. But this great historian did not stop there; in a series of articles Buckley expanded his analysis to include much of the evolution of religious freedom in the Old Dominion over the nineteenth century. Continue reading
If there is a better purpose for an academic blog than to make lists of must-have books and dents in your Amazon budget, I am not aware of it. As the first of what I hope will be an annual tradition, here are ten of my favorite books from the past 12 months. It is obvious that I have particular interests and tastes (early republic, religion, politics), but I tried to expand my comfort zone and include a few titles from other fields. So if you are looking for books you may have missed, need a reminder for books you still need to buy, or require evidence to present to your significant other, you have come to the right place.
(Placing any of these books on your holiday book list, of course, assumes that you have already purchased this year’s “must have” gift for early Americanists, the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton duel t-shirt, seen to the right.) Continue reading