Junto March Madness: Round One Results

The following are results from the first round of voting. Thanks to everyone that participated! Each matchup received an average of 170 votes, so we are pleased with the turnout. After listing the results, I’ll ask some questions and then hope to get some discussion in the comments.

Round Two starts tomorrow!



1. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom 89%

16. Griffin, American Leviathan 11%


8. Gordon-Reed, Hemingses of Monticello 43%

9. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll 57%


5. O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided 56%

12. Lyons, Sex Among the Rabble 44%


4. Dowd, A Spirited Resistance 56%

13. Hatch, Democratization of American Christianity 44%


6. Johnson & Wilentz, Kingdom of Matthias 58%

11. Noll, America’s God 42%


3. Greene, Pursuits of Hapiness 70%

14. Brewer, By Birth or Consent 30%


7. Godbeer, Sexual Revolution in Early America 35%

10. Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith 65%


2. Jordan, White Over Black 77%

15. Brown, Knowledge is Power 23%



1. Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale 92%

16. Farragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail 8%


8. Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party 44%

9. Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia 56%


5. Wood, Creation of the American Republic 58%

12. Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes 42%


4. Holton, Forced Founders 68%

13. Gross, The Minutemen and their World 32%


6. Merrell, Into the American Woods 73%

11. Onuf, The Mind of Thomas Jefferson 27%


3. Allgor, Parlor Politics 50.3%

14. Freeman, Affairs of Honor 49.7%


7. Richter, Facing East from Indian Country 59%

10. Nash, Urban Crucible 41%


2. Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution 77%

15. Warner, Letters of the Republic 23%



1. Cronon, Changes in the Land 88%

16. Parrish, American Curiosity 12%


8. Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles 45%

9. Hall, Worlds of Wonder 55%


5. Edling, A Revolution in Favor of Government 40%

12. McCoy, The Elusive Republic 60%


4. Loughran, The Republic in Print 29%

13. Rockman, Scraping By 71%


6. Sellers, Market Revolution 62%

11. Brekus, Sarah Osborn’s World 38%


3. Breen, Marketplace of Revolution 58%

14. Bushman, Refinement of America 42%


7. Wood, Black Majority 47%

10. Rediker, Slave Ship 53%


2. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs 79%

15. Shields, Civil Tongues and Polite Letters 21%



1. Taylor, William Cooper’s Town 85%

16. Fischer, Washington’s Crossing 15%


8. Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash 47%

9. Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men 53%


5. White, The Middle Ground 82%

12. DuVal, The native Ground 18%


4. Hamalainen, Comanche Empire 65%

13. Brooks, Captives and Cousins 35%


6. Johnson, Soul by Soul 78%

11. Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families 22%


3. Lepore, The Name of War 50.3%

14. Silver, Our Savage Neighbors 49.7%


7. Martin, Buying into the World of Goods 23%

10. Norton, Liberty’s Daughters 77%


2. Berlin, Many Thousands Gone 88%

15. Najar, Evangelizing the South 12%


Now, questions:

1. What upset surprised you the most?

2. Which result intrigues you the most, and what does it tell us about the voters?

3. Did you correctly predict any upsets?

4. What Round Two matchups are you most excited for?

43 responses

  1. My biggest reaction: It’s a good thing Hall and Butler won, otherwise religious histories would have been completely obliterated. Come on, early Americanists, embrace religion!

    • One result that is mildly surprising is how decisively Wood defeated Waldstreicher. You’d have thought that would have been closer, and maybe even Waldstreicher might have prevailed given the demographics of the blog. But nope, the old lion won handily. Which means either that there are a lot of “older” readers of the blog, or that even the “younger” generation thinks Creation is the more important book. As someone who voted for Wood, I’ll take the result either way.

      • No other book of Wood’s would have come close, but even those (like me) who’d normally prefer Waldstreicher can’t deny the importance of Creation. The biggest surprise for me was McCoy’s victory over Edling, which I think again raises the generational issue in an interesting way – I’d have expected anyone who came of age as a scholar in the last ten years would recognise Elusive Republic as a relic of the “ideological” school, and A Revolution in Favor of Government as the way of the future!

          • McCoy’s book is certainly a textbook example of the republican/liberalism fight, and in that sense quite dated. But it is also a powerful, brilliant work of intellectual history. In that sense it has held up remarkably well. (Although it completely ignores slavery, which was unforgivable even in 1980, but I’ll chalk that up to republican theory’s failure to deal with slavery generally.)

            As for Edling, it’s funny you mention that those who came of age as scholars in “the last ten years” should prefer it. His book showed up right when I was reading for my qualifying exam in colonial/revolutionary America, so I missed it. It was too early for me. As for him being the “way of the future,” you never know if those will pan out. But he seems to have started a trend, as books like Calvin Johnson’s Righteous Anger at the Wicked States and David Hendrickson’s Peace Pact, two books which seem to have flown under the radar, and Eliga Gould’s recent book, all seem to be following into that territory.

            As for Wood and Holton, go Wood! Forced Founders is a lousy book.

            • I probably shouldn’t reply to this because it will start a fight…

              But I strong disagree with your last bit there. Holton’s book is not perfect but it is far from “lousy.” Quite the opposite, really. I admire the Wood book too but prefer Holton.

              • I love the Holton book – he might oversell his point a bit but the angle is useful in response to the prevailing intellectual interpretations of the Revolution.

          • I agree with the both of you about the decisiveness of the “ideological” schools victories in round one. We’ll see how far they advance.

            To me the most intriguing match up in round two will be between McCoy’s Elusive Republic with Rockman’s Scraping By. Both absolutely outperformed their seeding so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Both books are elegantly constructed. McCoy has the edge on sheer readability, and about a thirty year head start, but Rockman’s virtuoso performance at reconstructing the lives of Baltimore’s multi-ethnic workforce gives him the edge in that category. Intellectual history from the top down vs. social history from the bottom up. I can’t wait to see the post mortem on this one.

            I believe that one of these books has the potential to get to the finals of the bracket and possibly the Final Four.

            btw “Creation” is misspelled in the results section

  2. This is so cool! Thanks for doing it all! I wish I had more time to participate. But I feel like I am learning much. Can I ask, how were the match-ups made? Were they made on the basis of similarity of themes? Because some I cannot quite see the relation….thanks!

    • Taylor; we took the list of nominated books from last Thursday’s post and ranked them in order of the number of ‘seconds’ they received. We then used that, plus committee judgement, to rank the first set of seeds (numbers one to nine). After that, we took a look at the number of spaces left, and tried to match books for things that we thought would spark interesting discussion. In some cases, that meant similarity of theme; in other cases, it meant disparity of theme; in some cases we had books we thought needed to be in the field but that had no obvious pairing.

  3. I can’t believe this. I’ve printed out the brackets and filling out the winners–pondering my picks. Oh, geekdom. Very happy about Ulrich–of course, Dowd–game-changing scholarship and Hamalainen,yes!

  4. I’m answering from a profound depths of ignorance, which makes me ready for my own cable public affairs program.
    (1) McCoy over Edling
    (2) The fairly close victory of Wood’s Creation of the American Republic and Lepore’s razor thin win

  5. BTW the results of the tourney will show up in my 2014 reading list: really interested to learn more about these titles!

  6. Butler over Godbeer surprised me. I actually think that Butler has some great books, but Awash in a Sea of Faith is not my favorite. To me, Awash, is a good tertiary source, while Sexual Revolution goes back to the primary sources- which to me, is what a good history book should do.

    I think it tells me that some of the readers are voting based on the historian rather than the book. Which is why more senior historians are winning over the younger historians.

    For the next round there are some really good match-ups! Ulrich vs Isaac should be a great match-up. Both books changed the way we think about democratization. I also am interesting in the Cronon vs Hall (environment vs religion- we’ll see who wins out!).

  7. For reference, this is how Round Two will shape up:


    1. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom vs 9. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll

    5. O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided vs 4. Dowd, A Spirited Resistance

    6. Johnson & Wilentz, Kingdom of Matthias vs 3. Greene, Pursuits of Hapiness

    10. Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith vs 2. Jordan, White Over Black


    1. Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale vs 9. Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia

    5. Wood, Creation of the American Republic vs 4. Holton, Forced Founders

    6. Merrell, Into the American Woods vs 3. Allgor, Parlor Politics

    7. Richter, Facing East from Indian Country vs 2. Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution


    1. Cronon, Changes in the Land vs 9. Hall, Worlds of Wonder

    12. McCoy, The Elusive Republic vs 13. Rockman, Scraping By

    6. Sellers, Market Revolution vs 3. Breen, Marketplace of Revolution

    10. Rediker, Slave Ship vs 2. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs


    1. Taylor, William Cooper’s Town vs 9. Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men

    5. White, The Middle Ground vs 4. Hamalainen, Comanche Empire

    6. Johnson, Soul by Soul vs 3. Lepore, The Name of War

    10. Norton, Liberty’s Daughters vs 2. Berlin, Many Thousands Gone

    • Oh no! You can’t put Johnson and Lepore against each other!!! These are the cool cats of Harvard History

  8. I think it’s pretty clear that older books are consistently beating younger books. When two recent or two old works are matched up, voting reflects readability and historiographic vogue more, but the really decisive factor in the voting is how many people have actually read, used, or thought about a given book. So older works consistently have the advantage, which also means books by male authors have a consistent advantage, even leaving aside the lopsidedness in nominations. Something to think about for deciding on the rules next time, perhaps.

    • Would be interesting to do a contest (next year?) that is simply “most important books of the last decade.” I have seen some books make a huge splash on publication, but quickly wither in significance, while others become more influential ten years after publication which were barely noticed when first published. It is difficult to predict which new books will prove to have lasting influence, but why not just for fun? If nothing else, such a poll becomes a primary source for future historians studying the the obsessions and interests of previous generations.

        • I agree although the longevity of the classical works is probably indicative of their value – even those that have been largely overturned still reverberate across the field and verious subfields. I tried to avoid voting if I only knew one of the books and had never even heard of the other ones, which gladly only happened 3 or 4 times.

        • I’d be interested in the same idea but in reverse. That is, a bracket of books that used to be the hottest thing since Charles Beard but for whatever reason have since become forgotten. As I suggested above, ways of the future don’t always pan out. Sometimes that is justly so, but other times that may be simply because they’re no longer the hot new thing and get left behind as graduate school moves on. As several commenters have noted, there’s something of a presentist bias in the selections. But what would a presentist bias have produced a decade ago? or two? etc.

          Another idea is simply books that are neglected and should be better known but aren’t. A book like that for me is Jack Greene’s Peripheries and Center. I think that’s a marvelous book with a compelling thesis, but it hardly gets the attention books like Creation and Ideological Origins get, to name two far more prominent works which deploy a similar intellectual historical approach.

  9. Given the tendency of classics to defeat newcomers, I was really surprised that Rediker’s Slave Ship beat Wood’s Slave Majority. The latter was groundbreaking at the time and is still incredibly readable and useful. Rediker’s book is fine, but simply rehashes the work of Emma Christopher and others, without the deeper insights seen in Rediker’s other works.

    I also think it a bit unfair that the Onuf v. Merrell match up pitted what is probably my advisor’s least important book against what is probably Rachel Herrmann’s advisor’s most important book. 😉

    • I couldn’t agree more re: Wood. I still can’t believe that one! Akin to Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown for me!

      • Nah, it’s more like a decent team with a couple Final Four appearances dropping to a low single-digit seed after a mediocre season and getting knocked out by an upstart. Wood’s got a good rep, but it’s hardly Kentucky or Duke in this field.

  10. I have to say I’m proud that I foresaw Rockman taking out Loughran:

    What surprised me most is the margins of some of the victories (though a small sample size, I know). Young’s Shoemaker is a wonderful and beloved book – I would have thought it would get closer than 12 points, even against a book as important as Transformation. But looking forward to the next round!

  11. I was hoping Joanne Freeman’s Affairs of Honor would win the match. She pointed out some sources for me on my Master’s thesis through an e-mail last year. I also like her lecture series on the Revolution on Yale Courses. It was very helpful several years ago.

  12. So greatly enjoyed Freeman’s Affairs of Honor. Not at all a fan of political works of the Early Republic, but that one caught– and kept– my attention.

    Also: Ann Smart Martin’s loss. HURT.

    Looks to me like the older, more established works are taking the lead. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing in some respects (Genovese’s Roll Jordan, Roll, is just amazing, 30+ years on), but…


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