Junto March Madness Round 1, Day 2: Brackets 3 and 4

The first day of voting, which included the first round of brackets one and two, is found here. Results for yesterday’s and today’s voting will be announced tomorrow. Just like the first post, this will include a handful of quick takes on the brackets in question, followed by voting. For the entire brackets, and overall rules, see here.

Please add your answers to the questions, as well as any general thoughts on today’s brackets, in the comments.


QUESTION ONE: What is the most intriguing matchup in bracket three?

Christopher Jones: The most intriguing match-up has to be Breen vs. Bushman, right? Two veteran, award-winning historians and two provocative books that overlap in interesting ways. I think a 14 seed for Refinement is absurdly low and Bushman might be positioned for pulling off an upset here. I imagine this one will be close.

Kenneth Owen: New and old approaches to political history are put to the test in the matchup between Max Edling’s A Revolution In Favor Of Government and Drew McCoy’s The Elusive Republic. Edling’s conception of the Federalist regime as a ‘fiscal-military state’ has great implications for the political history of the early republic, pushing historians past a purely intellectual conception of Federalism. Whether that will be enough to triumph against a classic of a more intellectual approach will be fascinating to follow.

QUESTION TWO: What is the most intriguing matchup in bracket four?

Kenneth Owen: The most interesting matchup in Bracket 4 is Jill Lepore’s The Name Of War against Peter Silver’s Our Savage Neighbors. Two very similar books in many ways, each with their flaws, but both calling new and necessary attention to the role of violence in early American identity. I expect Lepore to prevail, but Silver definitely deserves a close look.

Benjamin Park: Though Taylor’s William Cooper’s Town will unquestionably run away with the victory again Fischer’s Washington Crossing (and rightly so!), I think it is fair to step back and note how different the outcome would be were this a public poll outside the boundaries of academia. This lopsided victory may symbolize the large rupture between scholarly and public history currently in place in the world.

QUESTION THREE: What is your upset pick for bracket three?

Christopher Jones: I’d like to think in spite of the fact that it is so new, Brekus’s book can and will upset Sellers’s The Market Revolution. I say that not only because I think Sarah Osborn’s World is a phenomenal book, but also because I think historians of religion, women’s historians, and those interested in gender will cast their votes for the lower-seeded Brekus. This is especially true, I would imagine, for historians of religion who (like myself) find Sellers’s interpretation of antebellum religion so problematic.

Jonathan Wilson: As much as Sellers is a landmark in the field, and as much as even his enemies depend on his interpretation in their work on the second quarter of the nineteenth century, The Market Revolution is a book people love to hate. It’s no less idiosyncratic and irredeemably obtuse than indispensable. I’d not be surprised at all to see Brekus pull out an upset.

Benjamin Park: Though I am a huge Loughrin fan, and Republic in Print is a cornerstone for my own dissertation, my sense is that Rockman’s creative look at labor and slavery in early Baltimore poses a formidable opponent. Since print history and nationalism is perhaps a smaller subfield than race relations, could an upset be afoot?

QUESTION FOUR: What is your upset pick for bracket four?

Kenneth Owen: I’m not sure a #10 over a #7 exactly qualifies as an upset, but I’d expect Marcus Rediker to triumph over Peter Wood. The Slave Ship is a tremendously-written, very inventive book, and has a shot at making a deep run into the tournament.

Benjamin Park: Though it is hard to label an upset, since Anne Hyde’s Empires, Nations, and Families is a #13 seed I guess it counts. Hyde’s work, with its very recent Bancroft prize, will likely be understood in the future as a trend-setter for the field and a foundational book in American historiography. Will it receive such distinction now, only a couple years after publication and when facing a classic like Soul by Soul?

On to the voting!



1.William Cronin, Change in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

16. Susan Scott Parrish, American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural history in the Colonial British Atlantic World

8. Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

9. David Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgement: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England

5. Max Edling, A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State

12. Drew McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America

4. Trish Loughran, The Republic in Print: Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770-1870

13. Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage, Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore

6. Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846

11. Catherine Brekus, Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America

3. T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence

14. Richard Bushman, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities

7. Peter Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion

10. Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History

2. Kathleen Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia

15. David Shields, Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America



1. Alan Taylor, William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic

16. David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing

8. Rosemarie Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic

9. Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War

5. Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815

12. Kathleen DuVal, The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent

4. Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire

13. James Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest

6. Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Slave Market

11. Anne Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860

3. Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity

14. Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America

7. Ann Martin, Buying Into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia

10. Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800

2. Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America

15. Monica Najar, Evangelizing the South: A Social history of Church and State in Early America

10 responses

  1. In Bracket 3- I find Jasanoff and Hall a difficult match-up. How do you compare 17c spiritual/supernatural beliefs with loyalists in the Revolution? So very different books. I think the results will be more reflective of the audience than the strengths/appeal of the books.

    However, I really like the Lepore vs Silver match-up. Both fantastic books. Both first books derived from dissertations. Maybe that would be a good category for future competitions!

    • I was a bit surprised to see Rosie’s book at an 8-seed over Foner’s 9-seed, not like the 8-9 difference matters a ton though…just a difference of jersey color I believe!

  2. By far the hardest pick of the 2-day 1st round for me was 5-seed Richard White’s The Middle Ground vs. 12-seed Kathleen DuVal’s The Native Ground. Somewhat like a UConn vs. George Mason match-up! Storied program vs. upstart! It should be a good one…

  3. The Edling-McCoy match was my “Sophie’s Choice.” A brutal first round pick worthy of the Marquis de Sade. This event was good for it forced me to skim through some older works than I had not read in way too long. Thank you. A tip of my hat to the creators of this “Madness.”

    I am looking forward to reading the recaps and seeing the spirited discussions.


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