Some of you may recall last year’s early American history “March Madness” tournament sponsored by the good folks at The Junto. After some very tough early round matchups, Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery-American Freedom defeated William Cronon’s Changes in the Land to take the inaugural title. We had a lot of fun with the brackets in my Colonial America course last Spring. It was a great way to teach historiography. My students read American Slavery-American Freedom as part of the class so they were especially excited that Morgan won it all.
The Junto March Madness tournament returns this year with a slight twist. Only books published after 2000 are eligible. In order to be considered for the tournament a book has to be nominated in the comments sections of this post and “seconded” by other readers. I just made my nominations a few minutes ago. They are:
Kevin Kenny, Peaceable Kingdom Lost
George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life
Erskine Clarke, Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic.
I seconded Brendan McConville’s The King’s Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776
My picks above do not necessary reflect my choices for the best early American history books published since 2000. I voted for these titles just to make sure that they were included in the brackets.
So far The Way of Improvement Leads Home and Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? have been snubbed by The Junto readers. In a sad attempt at self-promotion, I am hoping that dozens of people will nominate them by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday). They may get a low seed, but I really think they might be able to pull some early round upsets. The Way of Improvement Leads Home and Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? could be the Valparaiso, Weber State, Bucknell, Northern Iowa, Austin Peay, Princeton, Coppin State, Hampton, George Mason, Santa Clara, North Carolina State, or Texas Western of this tournament. Both books are well-coached. The Way of Improvement Leads Home has a strong post game, while Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? can shoot the three-pointer. Both books have won some big games on the road over the last few years.
Moreover, an appearance by either of these books in the tournament will bring a ton of media attention (and new readers) to The Junto.
If you want to see two mid-majors have a shot at one shining moment of Junto glory, nominate us and “second” us here. Philip Vickers Fithian and the Founding Fathers do not want to be sitting in front of the CBS cameras on Friday and not hear their names called by Ken Owen and Ben Park!
NOTE: The folks at The Junto have printed a disclaimer saying that the tournament “is all meant to be taken in a spirit of fun.” I thus hope that no one at this esteemed blog is offended by my attempt to get into field of 64. 🙂
Michael Hattem says
John, you should have nominated one of them yourself. Getting them nominated in the first place is crucial for getting seconds when people to see it and go, “Oh yeah, I liked that book.” You can always go back and edit your comment. Unfortunately, I already used up my nominations and seconds, but surely you have a lot of students who are readers of The Junto. 😉
John Fea says
Michael: Thanks for the comment. Actually, it really doesn't matter if either book makes the list. They probably don't deserve to make the bracket anyway. I just had fun writing this post and it would definitely be more fun blogging about Junto March Madness if either or both of these books make the cut.
John Fea says
Having said that, if we can win our conference or get an at large bid we are ready to bring all the power of the Way of Improvement Leads Home network to bear on this tournament!
Jimmy Dick says
I have seconds left. I've ready “Was American Created as a Christian Nation?” and “Why Study History?” If they're nominated I can second them. I haven't checked The Junto yet this morning, but will be there soon.
John Fea says
Thanks, Jimmy. Actually, I doubt the wise men and women at The Junto would count “Why Study History?” as an early American book. I still think my best bet to make a run deep into the tournament is The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America
Jimmy Dick says
Was America is nominated. I can't help with Philip as I have not read that yet and it would violate my rules to do so.
I know Why Study doesn't exactly fit, but it might catch the eye of a few Junto readers in the comments. I definitely enjoyed that book and have recommended it to others as well as use it in my own teaching.