By Harlow Giles Unger
Da Capo Press, $16.00, 304 pages
The Boston Tea Party is one of the most iconic moments of the Revolutionary fight against Great Britain. Author Harlow Giles Unger captures the spirit of pre-Revolutionary America in the book American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution. Fifty to sixty men went on board a ship in the Boston Harbor and threw all the tea that was on the ship into the water in a refusal to pay the duties that the British government placed on the tea. Up to that point the conflict had been simmering beneath the surface, with occasional bouts of violence and other acts of vandalism. The final straw was the duty on tea and Parliament’s proclamation of the right to place taxes on anything. Unger explores responses to the various taxes, duties and other laws from Great Britain. His main focus is on the city of Boston itself and on radicals like Sam Adams and moderates like John Hancock. The vast majority of the book focuses on John Hancock and his role as a major merchant in this affair. The book claims to look at the Tea Party, but it spends most of the time on the back story. Many books have been written about this event and this one does not stand out in the crowd.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter