Monthly Archives: July 2017

Did 13 Reasons Spark A Spike In Suicides?

We do not know if the airing of “13 Reasons Why” caused an increase in suicide or not, and that in and of itself is astonishing. In the world of very advanced techniques for collecting and monitoring data, and in a world that we are led to believe is on the edge of the next epidemic, you would think the suicide rate could be estimated on the fly, with minor corrections later. Climate scientists are able to assimilate tens of thousands of data readings taken multiple times a day around the world into estimates of global surface temperatures. There is a daily ongoing estimate that I assume uses only part of the data, and at the end of every month, the data are crunched and the estimate spilled out, and only rarely is there a correction needed.

Anyway, we don’t have that information but there are two pieces of information we do have. One is from an older study.

There is evidence to suggest that some of the variation in suicide rates is accounted for by some of the variation in internet search rate. (This is not a causal statement, but a statistical statement.) From the abstract of the study:

… a set of suicide-related search terms, the trends of which either temporally coincided or preceded trends of suicide data, were associated with suicide death. These search factors varied among different suicide samples. Searches for “major depression” and “divorce” accounted for, at most, 30.2% of the variance in suicide data. When considering only leading suicide trends, searches for “divorce” and the pro-suicide term “complete guide of suicide,” accounted for 22.7% of variance in suicide data.

A recent piece by Madhumita Murgia in the Washington Post reported the connection between that older work and a current study showing that Internet search activity in relation to suicide spiked at the time that the Netflix series “13 Reasons” (based on this book) was released.

The 13-episode series, which was released all at once, chronicles 13 tapes that Hannah sends to those she blames for her actions. The series has captured the imagination of kids across the country. In April, it set a record for the most-tweeted-about show in 2017, when it was mentioned more than 11 million times within three weeks of its March 31 launch.

The jump is documented in a study published in JAMA by John Ayers, and others, called “Internet Searches for Suicide Following the Release of 13 Reasons Why.: The study results:

All suicide queries were cumulatively 19% (95% CI, 14%-24%) higher for the 19 days following the release of 13 Reasons Why, reflecting 900?000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected (Figure). For 12 of the 19 days studied, suicide queries were significantly greater than expected, ranging from 15% (95% CI, 3%-32%) higher on April 15, 2017, to 44% (95% CI, 28%-65%) higher on April 18, 2017.

Seventeen of the top 20 related queries were higher than expected, with most rising queries focused on suicidal ideation. For instance, “how to commit suicide” (26%; 95% CI, 12%-42%), “commit suicide” (18%; 95% CI, 11%-26%), and “how to kill yourself” (9%; 95% CI, 4%-14%) were all significantly higher. Queries for suicide hotlines were also elevated, including “suicide hotline number” (21%; 95% CI, 1%-44%) and “suicide hotline” (12%; 95% CI, 5%-19%). Last, public awareness indicative searches, such as “suicide prevention” (23%; 95% CI, 6%-40%) or “teen suicide” (34%; 95% CI, 17%-52%), were elevated.

Additional surveillance will clarify our findings, including estimating changes in suicide attempts or calls to national suicide hotlines. Nonetheless, our analyses suggest 13 Reasons Why, in its present form, has both increased suicide awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation.

So, yes, “13 Reasons” may have had the effect in spiking suicide rates for a short term, but until we know we should not make too much of it. But generally I would like to see mortality and morbidity data more frequently updated.

Focus on one thing, do not be distracted by anything else. Oh look tacos!

I don’t use clickbait titles very often, but this was one, because I want to talk to people who think that nine out of ten things that the collective known as Donald Trump, his white house staff, and the Republicans in Congress do is a distraction from … whatever.

Yes, distractions can happen, but most of what happens is not a distraction. The Trump administration is incapable of that much forethought and planning. When Trump throws trans people under the bus, telling that is a distraction is YOU throwing trans people under the bus. Here are some examples of the distraction meme playing out on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/real_marna/status/892105037723430914

https://twitter.com/real_marna/status/892105037723430914

This theme plays out in other ways as well. I recently wrote a Facebook post bout the 2020 election. Something like 9 out of 10 commenters told me to stop talking bout 2020, and to focus on 2018. Some told me to focus on other things.

I’ve got news for you. Every week I carry out a number of focused acts related to the climate change crisis. Everything else is a distraction.

I also carry out an act or two to work towards replacing my Republican representative in Congress because he is vulnerable, we can switch this seat, and that may be part of changing Congress from Red to Blue. Everything else is a distraction.

I frequently expend effort helping in the campaign for who I think should be the next Governor of my state. My fellow staters tend to switch parties every two terms, and we’ve had a Democrat in office for what will be 8 years. I am focused like a laser beam on making sure my bone-headed compatriots don’t blindly put a Republican in office in 2018, and I’ve got my candidate. Everything else is a distraction.

My state house representative is a seriously red tea-bagger. I’ve not done much about that yet, I just moved to her district. But I’ve done a couple of things and I’ll do more. I’ll do what I can to make sure she is replaced by someone excellent, a Democrat, and I already know who it is. Everything else is a distraction.

Today, I started to process of encouraging someone in my school district to run for the board. I want to see more good people run for more offices. Everything else is a distraction.

Oh, and today, for dinner, I’m going to make tacos. Except they really aren’t tacos, they are more like burritos. We must defend the burrito, which is not a taco and not a wrap. Everything else is a …

Anyway, I’m not the only person who cringes when I see “No, that really important example of Trump and his Republican Minions taking away our rights and ruining the planet and garnering more and more wealth is just a distraction,” or who hates it when an attempt at a conversation about politics gets shut down by well meaning and smart people because it wasn’t what they were thinking about that day.

I an prove that with Twitter:

I urge you to walk. And I urge you to chew gum. Beyond that, I urge you to walk and chew gum at the same time. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!!!

What computer mouse is best?

I did some research on mice, and I thought I’d pass it on. First, though, let me suggest that you get some of this stuff. Use it to paint a symbol on each of your wireless mice that matches a symbol on each of your mice dongles. It will help keep you sane. You’ll still find yourself constantly in possession of mice and dongles that do not match, but at least they will have these pretty little symbols you drew all over them.

There is some interesting and exciting stuff going on with mice.

Best but most expensive small mouse for general mobile use

The Logitech MX Anywhere 2 Wireless Mobile Mouse, Long Range Wireless Mouse is over fifty bucks, but it has some excellent features. It is small and portable and normative in shape and design. It works on any surface, is highly precise, nice to use, all that. It is a Laser tracking mouse. It has an internal rechargeable battery.

This mouse uses a small USB dongle or bluetgooth (Bluetooth Smart Ready). You can pair up to three different devices. It has hyper-speed scrolling.

The Most Magical of Mice: Flow technology

There are several mice in this category ranging across price. One of them is the Logitech MX Anywhere 2S Wireless Mouse with FLOW Cross-Computer Control and File Sharing for PC and Mac – 910-005132, which is close to 80 bucks, and is like the MX Anywhere 2, but has the additional magical capability of controlling multiple devices, including managing a cross-device clipboard. You pair the mouse up with each computer, then you tie it into the same local network both computers are on. Here’s a video from Logitech:

This supposedly works on Linux, Macs and Windows.

Super Ergonomic

I am suspicious of the whole ergonomic thing. Ergonomic, in mice and similar devices, seems to be “we fit your hand so well you will only move one or two muscles ever,” which seems a bad idea. I think a mouse should require more movement and adjustment by the hand in order to Not cause repetitive motion syndrome. Note that this is entirely my non-expert opinion and I may be quite wrong.

Anyway, one of the top rated and coolest Ergonomic mice is probably the Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse which is extreme in its design and intended to minimize RSS. The same company makes a variety of products, and note, these are generally not expensive.

General all round mouse

The affordable Logitech M720 Triathalon Multi-Device Wireless Mouse pairs with multiple devices, has fancy buttons, has hyper fast scrolling capability, and uses a single AA battery. It uses bluetooth.

Glows in the dark


I have a keyboard that glows in the dark. Maybe I need the ASUS ROG Gladius II Aura Sync USB Wired Optical Ergonomic Gaming Mouse with DPI target button. This $100 computer critter is a high end gaming mouse, and note that the interface is a wire. Proof that new technology (in this case, wireless interface to mouse) is sometimes inferior, and the old technology gets you more.

Other mice

The Logitech M330 Silent Plus Wireless Large Mouse is a large size mouse that makes no noise and is inexpensive (and wireless, but not bluetooth)
The super accruate, wired, Corsair Gaming M65 Pro RGB FPS Gaming Mouse, Backlit RGB LED, 12000 DPI, Optical is for gamers and has lots of buttons.

The mouse I need is probably the one I hope to find over at Goodwill; I need a plug in USB mouse to allow quick access to any computer any time without needing a dongle dangling off the back of something.

Trump to Cops: You should do more to physically harm American citizens

And the cops cheered.

Trump gave a talk to a gathering of police out on Long Island, earlier today. It went horribly. There are cops that are going to take Trump’s lead, take what he said seriously, and because of that, they are going to harm or kill Americans and end their own careers, destroying their own families and parts of their communities along the way.

The President of the United States egged the police on to disdain their civilian bosses, and they cheered him. The President of the United States told the police that they should not avoid harming suspects, and they clapped. The President of the United States encouraged the police to injure suspects, and they cheered.

He called American citizens being harassed by the police “animals.”

This was like and unlike Trump’s over-the-top and embarrassing tirade in front of the Boy Scouts. Similar because this was in both cases Trump being an unmitigated and stupid ass. But different because even though both the cops and the Boy Scouts were blindly cheering and clapping and yowling at these obnoxious comments, we could guess that the leaders of the Boy Scouts were potentially embarrassed. Also, for every Boy Scout there is one or more parental unit of some kind, and we knew many of them would be upset about Trump’s yammerings. And that all turned out to be true, and the Boy Scouts eventually, after some pressure, apologized.

But with the cops we should not assume anything like this is true. The only thing worse than a bunch of cops that show up to hassle some citizens is an organized bunch of cops in the form of an association or union. Today, Trump empowered the police, as a faction on our increasingly fractionated society, to become more violent. I don’t think there is any doubt that they will do this.

The New York City police department did not attend the Long Island event. Some see this as a boycott, since New York is a sanctuary city, and Trump intends to crack down on sanctuary cities. But it is not clear what the position of the New York City, or any other police department or group of police is. As far as I can tell, Trump’s new violence is something cops love. You should see the happy glowing faces of the cops standing behind the president when he tells them to treat suspects like animals, knock their heads on their cruisers, and otherwise, hurt them.

Happy glowing faces of cops clapping and cheering because they just got permission from the head of the United States to be physically harm American citizens.

I have been looking for the name of the organization that sponsored this talk, but I haven’t been able to find it. Whatever organization that is, we should demand that they apologize for Trump’s speech. But they won’t. Because they are cops.

Today is also the day that Donald Trump fired his Chief of Staff and replaced him with the Director of Homeland Security. The top security officer, in a sense, the top cop, of the country is now, apparently, at least according to a set of tweets, going to also be the person closest to the President in any official capacity in the West Wing. I wonder who thought of that idea?

Think about that for a minute. This is what dictators do.

Watch Chris Hays alter the anatomy of a Republican Congress member:

Transgender people poised to destroy US military

Donald Trump has consulted with his generals and military experts …

and declared that Transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the US Military in any capacity because the Military has other things to do

which apparently includes world domination will will be disrupted by the burden of transgenderness.

We’ll see.

Trump touts racial segregation, antisemitism, lewd behavior, at Boy Scout rally

If you give your children over to the Boy Scouts for a day or two, they may do something to them akin to abuse. This happened.

The Boy Scouts knew what they were getting into when they invited Donald Trump to speak at their national event. They even posted warnings for the troop leaders and scouts, on their blog.

As a unit leader or staff member, you can help make the president’s visit a success by ensuring that any reactions to the president’s address are, as we state in our Scout Law, friendly, courteous, and kind. This includes understanding that chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. “build the wall,” “lock her up”) are considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction between individuals and units. Please help us ensure that all Scouts can enjoy this historical address by making sure that your troop members are respectful not only of the president, but of the wide variety of viewpoints held by Scouts and Scouters in the audience tonight.

The speech was a travesty. It was rambling and foggy, the sort of thing that might make one worry about drug abuse or a brain problem. It was insulting to many people. It was inappropriate, including profanity and reference to sexual exploits of famous people (see below). It was dishonest, unfair, un-American, and stupid.

Many felt right away that the Boy Scouts should be asked to formally and publicly disavow the speech or make some sort of comment on what happened. For my part, I called the Northern Star Boy Scout office (that’s our regional Boy Scout thing) and complained. My friend Dave wrote this public letter:

Dear Boy Scouts of America,

During the Kennedy administration, I was a cub scout in Vienna, Austria, a city on the front line of the Cold War. Parts of that city, and nearly every other city in Europe, were still in ruins after the war ignited by an out-of-control demagogue placed in power by a minority of the voters. Part of my mother’s family had to flee their homes to America, while others were murdered by agents of that government.

That is why I forced myself to watch the current president’s speech to the Boy Scouts Jamboree in its entirety. It was a disgrace. It began with outright lies and accusations. (“The fake press will say there were 200 people here.”) It trashed his opponent, who was favored by more voters, though not by electoral tampering with the majority, and whom many Boy Scout parents must have voted for. It favored one religion over another. It used what at least used to be a swear word. It sowed divisiveness amongst Americans. It urged disrespect against a former President. It denigrated the nation’s government itself. It promoted its political campaign rhetoric and co-opted the audience into shouting its slogan.

According to the speaker, he is an honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. I urge you to rescind that title.

I expect that as honorable officials of the Boy Scouts of America, you will issue a statement to all troops identifying the remarks that were inappropriate and did not conform to the Boy Scout regulations about politics.

Sincerely,
David J. Formanek

All the media, being fake and all, have gone after Trump (though I’m not sure about FOX news), and generally speaking, the reaction is strong and widespread. Even as this is happening, of course, Trump-trolls are scanning social media for anti-Trump comments, and complaining about how we are taking away Donald’s “free speech.” Which, of course, no one has done. We have the First Amendment right to complain about what the president says, and forces that intend to curtail that right are truly nefarious.

(Note: One item on a local FOX news page decries the comparison liberals are making between Hitler, the Hitler Youth, and Trump’s Boy Scout Speech. That comparison certainly has been made by many! I just watched the famous Hitler to the Youth speech (not the Hitler Youth, just German youth). The comparison is apt, but Hitler was a much more focused orator than Trump.)

Many parents of scouts, and many former scouts, reacted negatively to Trump’s speech and in many cases to the Scouts’ lack of good decision making and failure to take responsibility for the fiasco they knowingly created. See twitter examples below. The BSA, for its part, has as of this writing said nothing other than that they do these events and invite the presidents, so what?

Clearly, the Scouts, as an organization, are clueless, even if many of their members are still prying their jaws off the floor. They should know something about the Constitution by now, and recognize that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to it since Major General Sir George Prevost. After all, the Boy Scouts of America have been in a Constitutional fight or two.

In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.

It is inappropriate to subject youth, especially in the context of an organization that desired to have no undesirables near their boys just in case, to the sort of Drek spewed by Donald Trump at this Jamboree. It is Orwellian, at best, to pretend nothing bad happened, that the Boy Scouts of America didn’t do something horribly wrong by inviting the profane and obnoxious pussy-grabber-in-chief to speak to their kids. The Boys Scouts of America have committed the unforgivable sin of pretending that nothing is wrong, that all is normal, of standing by while our Democracy burns, and perhaps, adding fuel to the fire.

My son will not be joining the Boy Scouts. What about yours?

Example Tweets About The Trump Youth Rally

The William Levitt Digression

I put this as an appendix because to get the full force of it all, you have to read a lot of rambling and offensive text and look stuff up in Wikipedia.

I remember growing up in New York State learning that William Levitt was famous for creating white suburbs developing land on Long Island and elsewhere in order to facilitate a white flight from increasingly non-white Manhattan. He may or may not have been involved in the conspiracy to keep public transit busses off Long Island because they were used by black folk to get to places like Coney Island. Anyway, from Wikipiedia:

Levitt refused to integrate his developments. The Jewish Levitt barred Jews from Strathmore, his first pre-Levittown development on Long Island in New York, and he refused to sell his homes to blacks. His sales contracts also forbade the resale of properties to blacks through restrictive covenants, although in 1957 a white couple resold their house to the first black family to live in a Levitt home. Levitt’s all-white policies also led to civil rights protests in Bowie, Maryland in 1963. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed Levitt’s racist policies, and the Federal Housing Administration prepared to refuse mortgages on his next Levittown. Nevertheless, Levitt would not back down and continued planning another whites-only Levittown in Willingboro Township, New Jersey. He fought legal challenges in New Jersey courts until the United States Supreme Court refused to hear his case.

Trump, also associated with promoting and renting segregated housing in New YOrk, went on a long tirade about how great Levitt was, and how the Scouts should aspire to be him.,

… When I was young there was a man named William Levitt. You have some here. You have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown?

And he was a very successful man, became unbelievable – he was a home builder, became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. [Note: Levitt was like Trump, went bankrupt and otherwise failed quite often at business.] And he’d build homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people, and he’d scour the sites for nails, and sawdust and small pieces of wood, and they cleaned the site, so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company, and he sold his company, for a tremendous amount of money, at the time especially. This is a long time ago. Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.

And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did.

[This may be a reference to Levitt’s divorse, affair with his secretary whom he later married, and his later affair and marriage with a french art dealer, but who knows. Maybe Trump knows more than just that. Anyway, Levitt might have been a fellow pussygrabber.]

Should I tell you? Should I tell you?

You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.

So look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right? So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate, and they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it, and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City.

And after about a 10-year period, there were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them. And they couldn’t sell it. So they called William Levitt up, and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said, yes, I would. He so badly wanted it. He got bored with this life of yachts, and sailing, and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too, believe me. Of course having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.

[None of that is true. Levitt became the titular head of the company after he sold it, and it was even named after him, but he never re-owned it. Not that this matters; Just letting you know the alt-facts are flowing. Most of this story is incorrect, muddled, or made up.]

But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land, and he worked hard at getting zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop, and in the end he failed, and he failed badly, lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party.

[Reminder: this is a speech to the Boy Scouts of America.]

It was the party of Steve Ross – Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. He came up and discovered, really founded Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I’m in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they’re big in the entertainment business.

And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown, and I immediately went over. I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood, show business, communications people.

So I went over and talked to him, and I said, “Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.” He said, “I know.” I said, “Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?” He goes, “Not well, not well at all.” And I knew that. But he said, “Not well at all.” And he explained what was happening and how bad it’s been and how hard it’s been. And I said, “What exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you?”

And he said, “Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.” A word you never hear when you’re talking about success when some of these guys that never made 10 cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape. But I tell you – I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.

And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum, meaning he took this period of time off, long, years, and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.

I’m so glad the Boy Scouts got to hear that inane and inaccurate story.

Senate Health Care: John McCain is busy

John McCain has a good heath care plan, and if has his way, you won’t.

The Senator most often accredited for thinking for himself (that’s a lie) will vote with Russian agent Donald Trump and the rest of the Republicans to take away Obama care. The moment he gets a chance.

However, he can’t right now because he is indisposed, recovering form surgery.

We at Greg Laden’s Blog wish Senator McCain a speedy recovery and hope he is well. But we also urge him to think about his privilege and not take access to the sort of health care he has from other Americans.

Speaking of the Russians, The Looking Glass War, the fourth George Smiley novel by John le Carré, in Kindle form, is currently and temporarily two bucks. Just thought you might like to add that to your collection.

1776: A man, his war, and their year

1776 by David McCullough is not a new book — it was published in 2006 — but I just got around to reading it, enjoyed it, and wanted to say a few words about it.

But first my David McCullough story.

You probably don’t know Scotty MacNeish (aka Richard Stockton MacNeish), but you should. He ended his illustrious career in a car accident in the field (in Belize, if I recall correctly) about 15 years ago, but many years before that he started out his career by discovering the origin of Maize, identifying its site of domestication and the timing of that important moment in Native American prehistory.

I had these two friends, back in graduate school, one of whom worked on the Franklin Expedition, the other ran Biosphere for a while. Anyway, they got married, and I was invited to the wedding. As a non-relative and roughly equal friend to both, I was seated at the reception table for odd balls, and had the pleasure of sharing that table with Scotty.

There were two or three others at the table, including a very well dressed and dapper middle aged gentleman who seemed to be fancy. But, since we were at a wedding reception at the 18th century home of the state’s largest lumbar barron, there was a lot of wealth around, so he wasn’t sticking out. But, Scotty, who is a bulldog populist with the sense of humor of a hyena, seemed to be going after the guy, putting him down (in a humorous way, mostly) and essentially, trying to cut him down to size for some reason.

Somewhere during the conversation, someone, not this gentleman and not Scotty as I recall, but someone else, mentioned the just released and highly popular documentary, “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. Surely, you know it. But, at the time, I’d only had a chance to see one or two episodes and it has been a while since I saw them. The gentleman at the table seemed to know something about the series, so I asked him, “Did you have something to do with the Civil War documentary?”

He looked at me for a moment. Everyone at the table looked at me. It was pretty obvious I had faux pas’ed all over myself. He grinned a little and said, “Young man, I am the Civil War.”

That was David McCullough. The guy who did the Civil War. Like this (starting about 1:40):

OK, so, now, about the book, 1776.

This is a book about a man, his army, and a year that he and they might like to mostly forget.

The American Revolution had roots back many decades before 1776, and the first actions of the war happened in 1775. 1776 started with the siege of Boston by Washington and his army, and it ends with Washington’s crossing of the Delaware to defeat the unsuspecting Hessian army.

One could argue that the evacuation of Boston by the British was a solid victory for the Patriots, but really, it was not so simple. One could argue that the crossing of the Delaware and defeat of the Hessians at Trenton was a solid victory for the Patriots, and that would be undeniably true, even if in the larger scheme it was a small victory compared to some other things that happened. In between these two events, almost everything that could go wrong went wrong. Reading the history of Washington’s army in that year, if you could do that without already knowing what ultimately happened, you can imagine any of a number of possible outcomes, none of which is an American victory over the British. And, the final event of the year, the victory in New Jersey, was not the kind of victory that changes the course of a war. If anything, it was just enough to decide not to give up yet.

I was generally aware of what happened that year. I’ve done a lot of work and research surrounding the American Revolution in New York and New England. I excavated the city burned during the battle of Bunker Hill, and did work along Paul Revere’s Ride (did not find hoof prints), and other Revolutionary war related localities in Massachusetts. I grew up visiting Fort George and Fort Ticonderoga in New York every few years, and I excavated on Phillip Schuyler’s grounds (you will know him as the father of Hamilton’s wife), and spent a fair amount of time in the vicinity of Saratoga (the decisive battle of that war). But, 1776 was not a rehash for me. First, it was not archaeological, but historical. Second, McCollough uses a lot of source material that had not been developed back when I was doing scholarly work in this area. Third, much of the story takes place in New York (the city) and although I’m from up river, it is not an area with Revolutionary War sites I’m familiar with.

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 is very well written. It is not dense or long, as many history books are, yet it is very well documented if you want to follow the footnotes. It is revealing of the real George Washington, who was probably a mixture of what you were thinking and some stuff you were not thinking, and it is also revealing of the nature of the Revolution itself, how close it was to failing, while at the same time, how inevitable it was to take a certain course. I recommend the book.

I read this book because I wanted to develop an updated perspective on that time, and this, I felt, would be a good segue from other things I’d been reading, and a good refresher. Next in line: American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 by Taylor, followed by Alexander Hamilton by Chernow.