Best Books About the Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was an organized political protest that took place in Boston in 1773 that became a pivotal moment in the American Revolution.

A number of books have since been written about the Boston Tea Party and the effect it had on the American Revolution and on American society in general.

The following is a list of the best books about the Boston Tea Party:

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Defiance of the Patriots and the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp

Published in 2010, this book tells the full story of the Boston Tea Party and how it set the stage for the American Revolution.

The book argues that the destruction of the tea was a rejection of authority that became an American tradition and set the standard for future democratic protests.

Carp states that the event demonstrated that a determined and organized group can accomplish major political change and it is widely cited today as the most famous example of American’s rich history of civil disobedience.

The book received positive reviews when it was published. The Guardian called it an “insightful and unblinkered new history of the Boston Tea Party” and went on to say that it provides a “thoughtful, balanced corrective to partisan treatments” of this historic event.

Newsweek called it a “wise and illuminating study” while the New Yorker praised it for being “assiduously researched” and the Boston Globe declared it a “sterling account” of the historic event.

Benjamin L. Carp is a history professor at Tufts University and an author who has written a number of books about the American Revolution including Rebels Rising as well as The Great New York Fire of 1776.

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution by Harlow Giles Unger

Published in 2011, this book is about the effect the Boston Tea Party had on American society.

The book argues that the Boston Tea Party unleashed a wave of political, social and economic change on society.

Unger states that the event unleashed a “reign of terror” in Boston and other American cities that led to destruction, violence and general turmoil throughout the colonies “all in the name of liberty and independence.”

The book received positive reviews when it was published. Publisher’s Weekly referred to it as an “exciting historical account” that “raises questions that are as relevant today as they were in 1773” and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer declared that it is unlike “any history you were likely to have been taught back in high school.”

Kirkus Reviews praised it as a “solidly researched account” and described it as a “well-delineated, contrarian history” while warning that its criticism of the colonist’s actions and motives may disappoint readers who are looking for an inspiring tale of patriotism.

Harlow Giles Unger is an author and journalist who has written numerous books including the three-volume Encyclopedia of American Education.

The Boston Tea Party by Robert Allison

Published in 2007, this short 65-page book is about how the Boston Tea Party lead to the American Revolution and the pivotal role Boston played in the revolution.

Robert Allison is a history professor at Suffolk University and an author who has written numerous history books such as The American Revolution: A Concise History, the Boston Strangler, and Sacco & Vanzetti.

The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution by Alfred F. Young

Published in 1999, this book is about a young Boston shoemaker named George Robert Twelves Hewes and the role he played in the Boston Tea Party.

The book discusses how Hewes’s role in this historic event had been all but forgotten until the 1830s when a renewed national interest in the Boston Tea Party on the 50th anniversary of the event led to the rediscovery of Hewes and his role in the event.

The book explores the way memory affects how and why some historical events and historic figures are remembered while others are forgotten.

The book received positive reviews when it was published. The New England Quarterly called it “significant and engaging” and said that it provides fresh insight “into the process whereby survivors become heroes and patriotic myths are made.”

Parade Magazine called it a “thoughtful and revealing book” and Howard Zinn, author of the People’s History of the United States, reviewed the book and declared “Young’s meditation on the construction of memory is extremely thoughtful and provocative.”

Alfred F. Young, who died in 2012, was a professor emeritus of history at Northern Illinois University and the author of a number of a history books including Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution; Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier; and Whose American Revolution Was It?: Historians Interpret the Founding.

Traits of the Tea Party, a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes: One of the Last of Its Survivors by George Hewes

Published in 1835, this book was written by George Hewes who was one of the last surviving members of the Boston Tea Party at the time.

The memoir tells the story of the Boston Tea Party from a first hand perspective, which makes it a valuable primary source on the Boston Tea Party.

In the book, Hewes describes what happened leading up to and during the Boston Tea Party and what role he played in the event, such as how he was chosen to serve as a boatswain of one of the tea ships during the event.

In addition to the Boston Tea Party, Hewes also describes several other important historical events that occurred around that time such as the Boston Massacre and the Siege of Boston.

If you want to read more books like these, check out this article on the best Boston history books.

Kammen, Michael. The New England Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 3, 1999, pp. 480–83. JSTOR,
Goodstein, Jack. “Book Review: American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution by Harlow Giles Unger.” Seattle Post Intelligencer, 16 March. 2012,
“American Tempest.” Kirkus Reviews,
“American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution.” Publisher’s Weekly,
Jasanoff, Maya. “Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America by Benjamin L Carp – review.” The Guardian, 5 Nov. 2010,

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of the History of Massachusetts Blog. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

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