Junto March Madness 2014: The Unveiling of the Bracket

JMM Logo 2Today is the day you’ve all been waiting for with eager anticipation—the official unveiling of the Junto’s March Madness bracket! Thank you to all who nominated books over the last couple of days—this whole project wouldn’t have been possible without you.

As with last year, we had an overwhelming response to our call for nominations, with over 150 books nominated, and over half of those receiving multiple nominations or seconds. Constructing the bracket from such a list was a difficult—each of us had to see books we wanted in the tournament fall by the wayside. 

The shape of our brackets was ultimately decided around the following principles:

1) Seeds 1 through 8 were primarily decided according to those books which received most nominations and seconds.

2) One book per historian.

3) Books were generally assigned to brackets 1, 2, 3 or 4 based on general themes—transnational/religious history, race/Native American/gender history, race/slavery, and political history—but these were not hard and fast rules. Just as Gonzaga sometimes ends up in the Midwest in the NCAA tournament, so sometimes we had to shift books around to keep the seeding roughly in line with principle 1.

4) For seeds 9 through 16, we simply tried to create matchups that would spark discussion.

In case the principles outlined above didn’t make it clear, this is designed to be frivolous and fun. I repeat . . . THIS IS MEANT TO BE FUN. If any subfields or subtopics seem underrepresented, it is simply because the sample size of persons nominating the books was very small in relation to the size of the field. We’re not out to find the “best” book in early American history; we simply want to have fun, interesting and informative conversations about early American historiography.

So, when voting, please keep that in mind. Don’t feel you must vote for the book you necessarily think is the “best,” but the one that is your favorite of the two.

This year, we’ve also created a hashtag for discussion of the tournament on Twitter: #JMM14. Which books deserved more praise? Which are the most interesting match-ups in Round 1? Let the conversation begin!



Round One
March 17th: Round One, Brackets 1 and 2
March 18th: Round One, Brackets 3 and 4
March 19th: Results

Round Two
March 20th: Round Two, Brackets 1 and 2
March 21st: Round Two, Brackets 3 and 4
March 22nd: Results

Later Stages
March 24th: Round of 16
March 26th: Quarterfinals
March 31st: Semifinals
April 2nd: Final



BRACKET ONE [Transnational/Religion]

1. Alan Taylor, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies vs. 16 Evan Haefeli, New Netherland and the Dutch Origins of American Religious Liberty

2. Catherine Brekus, Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America vs 15. Kate Carte Engel, Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America

3. Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World vs 14. Andrew O’Shaughnessy, The Men Who Lost America: British Command During the Revolutionary War and the Preservation of the Empire

4. Daniel Richter, Facing East From Indian Country: A Native History of Early America vs 13. Karin Wulf, Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia

5. Brendan McConville, The King’s Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 vs 12. Jim Piecuch, Three Peoples, One King: Loyalists, Indians, and Slaves in the American Revolutionary South, 1775-1782

6. Rebecca Anne Goetz, The Baptism of Early Virginia: How Christianity Created Race vs 11. John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction

7. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic vs 10. Eliga Gould, Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

8. Susan Scott Parrish, American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World vs 9. Kathleen Brown, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America

BRACKET TWO [Race/Native American/Gender]

1. Pekka Hämäläinen, The Comanche Empire vs. 16. Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766

2. Catherine Allgor, Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government vs. 15. Kate Haulman, The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America

3. Brett Rushforth, Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous and Atlantic Slaveries in New France  vs. 14. Juliana Barr, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands

4. Alan Greer, Mohawk Saint : Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits vs. 13. Mary Kelley, Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America’s Republic

5. Susan Klepp, Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 vs. 12. Jennifer Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery

6. Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America vs. 11. Kathleen DuVal, Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent

7. Anne Hyde, Empires, Nations, Families: A New History of the North American West, 1800-1860 vs. 10. Paul Mapp, The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763

8. Linford Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America vs. 9. Edward Andrews, Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World

BRACKET THREE [Race/Slavery]

1. Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore vs. 16. Clare A Lyons, Sex Among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830

2. Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family  vs. 15. Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South

3. Vincent Brown, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery vs. 14. S. Max Edelson, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina

4. Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World vs. 13. Michael Jarvis, In The Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783

5. Stephanie E. Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora vs. 12. Jon Craig Hammond, Slavery, Freedom, and Expansion in the Early American West

6. Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery vs. 11. Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism

7. Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom vs. 10. David Waldstreicher, Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution

8. Christina Snyder, Slavery In Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America vs. 9. Alan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717

BRACKET FOUR [Political]

1. Joanne B Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic vs. 16. Michael A. McDonnell, The Politics of War: Race, Class and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia

2. T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence vs. 15. Patrick Griffin, American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier

3. Max M. Edling, A Revolution In Favor Of Government: Origins of the US Constitution and the Making of the American State vs. 14. Serena Zabin, Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in Imperial New York

4. Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate The Constitution, 1787-1788 vs. 13. Terry Bouton, Taming Democracy: ‘The People’, The Founders and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution

5. Rosemarie Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic vs. 12. Holly Brewer, By Birth Or Consent: Children, Law and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority

6. Seth Cotlar, Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism Republic vs. 11. Benjamin H Irvin, Clothed In Robes Of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors

7. Michael O’Brien, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860 vs. 10. Francois Furstenberg, In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation

8. Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution vs. 9. Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815


And for those of you who like print-outs, you will find images below. You can download a PDF Bracket.

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12 responses

  1. Interesting how you used the British version of O’Shaughnessy’s title; show’s the Junto’s transatlantic character I guess.

  2. Oh Junto people, you know how I love your work. But Richter-Wulf in the first round?! It’s all about collaboration and cooperation, so may we go forward together, arm in arm, historians of women and of native Americans, OIEAHC and MCEAS, Philadelphia and Native America, Philadelphia and Williamsburg! Not sure how you’ll bracket that, though. Cheers, Karin

    • I can neither confirm nor deny that we giggled when we saw we were creating an OIEAHC/MCEAS battle in the first round…

      • Just another case of academics talking at (not with) each other …. The brackets unintentionally show how narrowly focused most of the books on grad school comps lists have become. It’s the SSDD syndrome … RCG dominates, and things like economics and war (two very important factors, especially in the “colonial world”) get only minimal attention. I applaud The Junto for its effort, and this is a fun game, but a close examination of the nominations and brackets suggests, at least to me, that this exercise is a self-licking ice cream cone. 🙂

        • We are at the mercy of our readers’ nominations. We heartily encourage more nominations of books that cover economics and war next year!

          • I’d go further than that, Ben. Many of the books in the bracket I’d deal with either economics or war – including the number 1 overall seed, Alan Taylor’s Civil War of 1812. Few of the books are military histories of war, but significant numbers cover war in some way shape or form – including a large number of the books dealing with Native American history.

            Similarly with economics. What is Seth Rockman’s Scraping By if not a book about economic conditions? Bouton, Holton and McDonnell all deal with economics in significant chunks of their books – McDonnell’s with war, too, as the title makes evident.

            Simply put, books can deal with race, class, gender, AND economics and war. It might not be the military history of detailed recounting of troop movements, But it’s still war, and most people experience the social ramifications of war more than the military battles themselves. Just because there’s a race or class angle to a book doesn’t mean it’s the only thing on discussion.

            • Thankfully no one writes mil hist and discusses troop movements; that you’d suggest that’s what mil hist is about only makes my point abt the level of ignorance about mh in grad schools and within certain circles. Yes, war and econ is addressed in some of the books, and the words even pop up in some titles. You are correct in nothing people deal (and dealt) with war far more than just on the battlefield. Still, there have been some really excellent and important books written on mil hist that y’all missed completely. If you think Taylor’s War of 1812 is “all that,” esp as mh, more power to you. But you can do better. Cheers


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