I, like all of us, was stunned and deeply saddened by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon and what transpired several days later. I was born in Boston and still live there part-time, and I join the nation in mourning the lives lost and praying for healing and justice. Before the tragedy occurred, I began, with the help of this newsletter’s editor, Meghan Walker, putting up daily posts on Facebook and Twitter from a timeline I’d developed of events leading to the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. In the days after the tragedy on April 15, 2013, I considered putting those posts on hold. I ultimately decided, however, that if the events that transpired in the spring of 1775 proved anything at all, it was that Boston has always been resilient. So the postings have continued.
It is in that spirit that Meg and I have decided to send out this newsletter.
Thanks for listening, and over to you, Meg.
Nat’s latest book, BUNKER HILL: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, will be published by Viking on April 30th.
So far the early reviews have been raves. In the Washington Post, Walter Isaacson writes, “Like a master chronicler, [Philbrick] has produced a tightly focused and richly detailed narrative that just happens to resonate with leadership lessons for all times.” Publishers Weekly says “no one has told this tale better,” while Kirkus (in a starred review) declared the book “ingenious” and “a rewarding approach to a well-worn subject.”
The buzz on BUNKER HILL does not stop with nice pre-publication review coverage. In fact, the book has already been optioned for feature film rights by Warner Bros. with Ben Affleck lined up to direct.
In related and equally exciting news, Ron Howard has signed on to direct Nat’s National Book Award-winning IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, with Chris Hemsworth set to star as Owen Chase.
For now, Nat’s attention is directed to the upcoming release of BUNKER HILL, the book with which he returns to the subject and the place where his love of history began. “It was while pushing my daughter’s stroller through the crooked streets of Boston’s North End back in 1984 that I first began to think seriously about writing about the past,” he says. “Like a lot of people of my generation, I’d been captivated by Esther Forbes’s historical novel, Johnny Tremain, which I read as a fifth grader in Pittsburgh. Even after studying American history in high school, college, and beyond, I still found myself longing to know more about what unfolded in and around Boston during the early years of the Revolution.”
At the outset of his research, Nat wanted to establish a sense of what Boston was like during the revolutionary period. This was not such a simple task considering that the city has changed almost beyond recognition over the past 240 years. So he purchased half-a-dozen historic maps, blew them up to poster size, positioned them all around his desk, and made notes on those maps with a pencil and pen. He also made countless research trips to Boston, exploring historic sites like the Common, the Old South Meetinghouse, and the Old State House, which overlooks the scene of the Boston Massacre.
In his signature fashion, Nat shows us in BUNKER HILL that the story of the Revolution that we think we know is more complex, disturbing, and just plain interesting than we might have ever imagined. Nat introduces us to a colorful cast of largely forgotten characters highlighted by the 34-year-old Dr. Joseph Warren, who up until his tragic death at the Battle of Bunker Hill was the leader of the on-the-ground revolution in Massachusetts. Had he survived, it might well have been Warren, rather than George Washington, who went on to lead the colonies to victory.
To get a taste of what’s in store with BUNKER HILL, check out the new book trailer.
Nat has some great events coming up and looks forward to getting out there and talking to readers about BUNKER HILL. He’s particularly excited about his interview with NPR’s Dianne Rehm scheduled for April 30. In addition to events all over New England and up and down the East Coast, Nat will also visit San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and many places in between. Be sure to check out the full tour schedule. If Nat is coming to a city near you, I encourage you to try and make it out to one of his events. You’ll be in for a real treat.
“My writing and research process can feel a bit isolating,” Nat says. “So I really enjoy getting out there and meeting my readers. It’s such a highlight for me. I hope many of you will be able to make it out to one of my events this summer and that we’ll have the chance to chat.”
In the meantime, be sure to keep in touch with Nat via his blog, Facebook, Twitter, and this
Thank you all for your support.
Meghan Walker, Editor