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

The madness goes marching on! Results for yesterday and today will be made available tomorrow (Saturday). Voting on the Sweet Sixteen begins next week.

As always, voting is open until midnight EST.

For reference, here are the images for Brackets Three and Four.


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QUESTION 1: Which is the most exciting matchup in today’s brackets?

Tom Cutterham: In bracket 4, Liberty’s Daughters v Many Thousands Gone is looking like a very tough match, which also eerily echoes Good Wives, Nasty Wenches v Slave Ship in bracket 3. I think Brown will take the win over Rediker, reflecting her justified high seeding, but it’ll be a tough ask for Norton to upset Berlin. In the end, we’ll end up with the stronger books from both gender and slavery genres. But I wonder what questions would have arisen if Norton had been pitched against Brown and Rediker against Berlin? To me, Berlin and Norton represent the more standard or middle of the road approaches, Rediker and Brown the more radical and theoretically-inclined works. Which just goes to show how good a book Good Wives, Nasty Wenches is, considering voters so far have generally preferred the more staid old stuff. I think she’ll go far.

Kenneth Owen: In Bracket 4, I’m most interested to see the result between Richard White and Pekka Hamaleinen. The trend for classics to prevail over newer books, combined with White’s crushing victory in Round 1, makes me think that The Middle Ground is on its way to the middle round of the tournament. Yet while I love White’s classic, I was also really impressed with the imaginative scope of The Comanche Empire, and on the merits of the case, both have very similar strengths and weaknesses.

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

Kenneth Owen: I’d like to see The Elusive Republic triumph over Scraping By in Bracket 3. Both are fine books; but while I think that McCoy may have undeservedly triumphed over Edling in Round 1, The Elusive Republic is a fine and elegantly written book that gives a thorough explication of Jeffersonian ideology. I suspect, however, that Scraping By will become the LaSalle of this tournament.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

4. Pekka Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire

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

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

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

2 responses

  1. Several of the match-ups were difficult for me, but the hardest was Cronon vs Hall. I really love and appreciate both of these books. Changes in the Land revolutionized how I thought about early America when I was an undergrad, and Worlds of Wonder made me rethink religious history (my own field) when I was in graduate school. Trying to go beyond my own subfield loyalties, I really tried to vote based on which book I like more. Changes in the land is certainly very readable, more so than Worlds of Wonder- although I think Worlds is also easily digested (my undergrads are the ones who would disagree with me). Again, environment vs religion…

    • I agree about Cronon and Hall, Marie. And from here on out the decisions are only going to get harder. I too am voting on which book I like more rather than on which book may have been more important. For me the toughest was Berlin v Norton. I chose Norton because I liked it more but also because Berlin’s book is synthetic while Norton’s (along with Kerber’s book) completely transformed the perception of gender and gender roles in not only the 18th but also early 19th- centuries. It’s a rare experience to read a book and get the feeling that your understanding of the period is changing with each page. Norton’s book did that for me.


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