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

The march to the Final Four continues! Results for the first round is found here. The original brackets are found here.

Today, we vote on the second round matchups found in Brackets One and Two. As in the First Round, voting is open until midnight EST. Tomorrow we will vote on Brackets Three and Four, and winners will be announced Saturday. We will then move on to the Sweet Sixteen on Monday.

As a reminder of how we got here, below are images of Brackets One and Two thus far.


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QUESTION ONE: Which is the most exciting matchup in today’s brackets?

Kenneth Owen: The most exciting matchup for me in Round 2 comes in the clash between Woody Holton’s Forced Founders and Gordon Wood’s Creation of the American Republic. Is a state-level study sufficient to seduce voters ahead of something taking shot at a grander narrative? Or does Holton’s deft weaving of racial and economic narratives give a more nuanced understanding of the Revolution than an ideological history based on elites? I’m really interested to see the discussions this sparks.

Michael Hattem: In Bracket 1, the Morgan-Genovese match-up is the most exciting because this is likely to be Morgan’s toughest test until his inevitable Elite 8 match-up with Jordan. Also, my dark horse in Bracket 1 is now a book I nominated, Jack Greene’s Pursuits of Happiness. In Bracket 2, like Ken, I am most excited  by the Wood-Holton match-up. First, it has a classic ideological vs. neo-progressive dynamic. Also, I wonder whether it really is our audience skewing older that is accounting for the success of many classic works over more recent works or is it simply because the effects of those works are already tangible (I’m thinking also of the McCoy upset). Also, in Bracket 2, my dark horse has now become Rhys Isaac.

Christopher Jones: There’s a lot of great match-ups in Round 2. I am a little bit surprised (though not necessarily disappointed) that Dowd’s _A Spirited Resistance_ made it out of the first round so easily, and think it’s pretty well positioned now to advance a bit further. I’m also intrigued by the match-up between Hamalainen’s Comanche Empire and White’s The Middle Ground. I have a feeling The Middle Ground will win, though I’ll be casting my vote for Comanche Empire.

QUESTION TWO: What is the most likely upset in today’s matchups?

Kenneth Owen: In bracket 2, I think the most likely upset comes from Daniel Richter’s Facing East From Indian Country as it, err, faces Bailyn’s Ideological Origins. I was surprised to see Bailyn secure a 2 seed in the tournament, and think that Richter’s reasonably comfortable victory over Nash in Round 1 bodes well for future chances. That said, similar analysis suggests that Merrell’s Into The American Woods may have a strong chance of defying seedings against Catherine Allgor’s Parlor Politics.

Michael Hattem: For my money, the two best chances for an upset come from Richter and Isaac.



1. Edumund Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom

9. Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

5. Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean

4. Gregory Evans Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815

6. Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America

3. Jack P. Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture

10. Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People

2. Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812


1. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

9. Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790

5. Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787

4. Woody Holton, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia

6. James Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier

3. Catherine Allgor, Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

7. Daniel Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

2. Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

4 responses

  1. I voted for Richter over Bailyn. I know Bailyn’s is the more rewnowned book, but it doesn’t do much for me. I much prefer Wood and McCoy in that field. Richter, on the other hand, I found a fascinating book and an extremely well-written one. Maybe that’s because it covers a subject I don’t study, so I apply different standards to it. There ought to be more books like that, which concisely and thoroughly introduce a subject to people who know next to nothing about it.

    Getting back to Wood, I can tell a lot of people have pegged Holton to top him. Maybe it’s because I “skew old,” but I just don’t see what’s so hot about that book. It’s simply a warmed-over farrago of tired old progressive platitudes. And a not especially compelling one. It’s a (poorly-disguised) polemic masquerading as history. Obviously it struck a chord. I just don’t get why.

  2. Yeah, the ideological v neoprogressive debate has grown a bit tired with diminishing returns. It’s a shame none of the books approaching the Revolution and Constitutional from a state-building paradigm (i.e. Edling, or Hendrickson’s Peace Pact, or Gould’s Among the Powers of the Earth) are left/included to challenge Wood.

    If Richter and Merrell both make it to the next round, that will a match to watch.

    • Maybe the state-building stuff is simply too new to have made much of an impact. I missed out on it, and it may not have percolated through graduate programs enough to have caught on. That’s speculation, of course. It’s clear that the old classics are still being assigned and read. Charles Beard didn’t make the cut, nor did Perry Miller, so it’s also clear that eventually old classics die off. Eventually Morgan and Wood won’t be here, but that’s a ways off.

  3. Richter’s book is useful as a synthesis and I appreciate his challenge to a Western/Anglocentric perspective, but Bailyn’s Ideological Origins fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the American Revolution. I think the book is quite flawed, but without a doubt added much needed nuance and sophistication to scholarship on the subject. It’s also an important work of Atlantic history. A Richter win would be a major upset.


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