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Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty Hardcover – November 21, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Joseph Warren is a fascinating work of research and historical sleuthing that applies a much-needed medical expertise to the story of one of revolutionary Massachusetts's preeminent physicians and political leaders. Thanks to Forman's terrific new book we will never see Dr. Joseph Warren in the same way again."
- Nathaniel Philbrick

"Thank you Dr. Forman for writing the book. [You] sought to put together the details of the life of Joseph Warren, a Boston doctor... who started the [Warren] physician lineage as well as had a major impact in the American Revolution."            - Atul Gawande

"Dr. Samuel Forman presents this extraordinary book about Dr. Joseph Warren... His roots in history allow him to be an exemplar of the scholar physician."                                               - Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard University School of Public Health

"This is a story about an extremely overlooked founder who really played a huge part in the country's fight for freedom from the English. This is a definite keeper in the biography/historian's and perhaps, even the fiction reader's library." - Mary Lignor, Feathered Quill Book Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Had Warren failed at the Siege of Boston, the Continental Congress and all its high ideals would have come to nothing. Warren's insistence, during that formative precedent-setting interlude, on the strict separation of representative government from a subordinate military, is an enduring contribution to the American experience. It was a gift he purchased with his life. America owes Warren much, the least of which is knowing his story and understanding his aspect of our nation's beginnings."
- Paul Bracken, professor of political science, Yale University, and author of Fire in the East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age
Dr. Joseph Warren conducted what was surely the most unusual medical practice in America's early history. He collected key military intelligence prior to the Revolutionary War from a network of spies acting as patients and was among early American doctors to use dead bodies for anatomical study. However, that is only part of his story. By virtue of directing the original Minute Men, Warren is considered a founder of the Army National Guard. He served as president of the 1775 Massachusetts Provincial Congress, where he advocated for a military accountable only to elected government, and as a Freemasonry Grand Master. Finally, as a military general, Warren was the first high-ranking American officer killed during the Revolutionary War. This definitive biography is accompanied by an enlightening series of appendices, which include a forensic reconstruction of the doctor's account books. Dr. Samuel A. Forman has a personal mission to increase enthusiasm for American core values. He became intrigued by the references to Joseph Warren, whose résumé defied belief that one person could do many things, much less do them simultaneously, well, and frequently lead them. Early in his research for this book, Forman attended lectures on the American Revolution by Prof. David Hackett Fischer, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of books on the era, who commented that "it may take a physician to tell Warren's story properly." Making sense of opaque eighteenth-century physician's account books, a feat of both forensic analysis and medical historical scholarship, turned out to be the elusive key to understanding Joseph Warren's life experiences. It is an accomplishment that only a scholar-physician could hope to achieve. A father of five, Forman lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (November 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455614742
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455614745
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sam Forman is an historian, Harvard University faculty member, and businessman. He is educated in history of the American Revolution and the history of science, as well as the practice of clinical and preventive medicine. Throughout his successful careers as physician, military officer and businessman, he has published and lectured on historical topics that inform current issues.
A fortuitous confluence of capabilities - in history, medicine, business accounting, rigorous scholarship, and gut-level enthusiasm for the topic - led Dr. Forman to tackle a project modern historians have shied away from. His biography of Warren is an ambitious debut, a volume sure to become the definitive story of a worthy national figure.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At last! It's been 50 years since the last biography of Dr. Joseph Warren came out. There have been only 2 full-length books on the life of this nearly-forgotten man, and much has happened since in the methods and style of historical research. Samuel Forman presents a biography that is engaging and astoundingly well-researched - a glance at his acknowledgements and bibliography are immediate proof of that (and it's worth following along with the endnotes as well, although the book is readable without them).
The author has an interesting challenge in his subject: Warren took on a wide range of responsibilities over the course of his short life: medicine (as practitioner and teacher), Freemasonry (from apprentice to Grand Master), family life, politics (too much to list!), and military pursuits. Rather than a straight chronology, Forman arranges the book into these various categories. While this does lead to occasional repetition between sections (when it's necessary to clarify the timeline), this allows Forman more opportunity to present these aspects in greater depth than they ever were in earlier biographies. He wrangles his complex subject well.
While Forman absolutely admires and respects Warren, he does not "clean up" his subject for the purpose of hero worship, and takes care to separate myth from fact. Warren is depicted as human, with his share of character flaws. Moreso than in the other biographies, in this one I was able to see him grow and mature in his relationships, interactions, and political experience.
Forman also incorporates fascinating aspects of historiography and new historical "forensic" research. He reviews how Warren has been remembered - and forgotten - since his death.
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Format: Hardcover
"Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty" is only the fourth biography dedicated to Dr. Joseph Warren and the first biography since Cary's 1961 mediocre book (and the other two were published in the mid 1800's and long since superseded by new findings, much of which was since gained from access to the British side of the story). Moreover, of the two modern biographies, Cary's 1961 version was NOT thoroughly researched. However, this biography, by Sam Forman, most certainly is.

For instance, Forman's book lays to rest the 236-year-old question of the circumstances of the death of Dr. Warren, utilizing modern forensic techniques, which paints an entirely different picture of the final moments of Dr. Warren's short life. The meticulousness of the Forman's research to uncover such details of Warren's demise is unmatched. As another example, I am amazed at Forman's findings on such details as Warren's medical practice and even his secret engagement with Miss Mercy Scollay.

Simply put, this is the most definitive biography on Warren ever written, and I doubt it will ever be topped. It is well organized, well written, and thoroughly researched. Indeed, this biography includes vast new research and findings, and thus furthers the body of knowledge on what historians and Americans know of the fateful events of 1775 that began the Revolutionary War, events that Warren not only found himself amid, but also was an instigator and leader of.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of the founding fathers are surrounded by so much literature that it is hard to know where to start and who to trust. Unfortunately, Joseph Warren has been all but forgotten by modern Americans--and, sadder yet, even most history books only mention him nominally. As a result, researching Warren is a frustrating task unless you live in or near Boston and have direct access to their historical records.

For those of us who know about and value Dr. Joseph Warren's contributions to the American Revolution, Dr. Forman's book is a sigh of relief.

This biography is the book I wish had been written when I started my own research on Warren years ago. Dr. Warren was a complex and enigmatic figure. He also needs to be understood in many different roles: doctor, patriot, writer, free mason, politician, soldier, as well as in the context of his family, that writing about him can become difficult.

This biography manages to shed light on every aspect of Dr. Warren's life, which helps him emerge in three dimensions for the first time. Forman approaches his subject topically in order to fully address each area. For instance, Forman devotes an entire chapter to Warren as doctor, but doesn't simply talk about his medical training or his patients tended to. He also covers 18th Century medicine as a whole, in order to understand Warren's approach to medicine in the context of his times, and how he fit the standards and expectations of his day, and how he broke apart from them.

You can expect the same treatment from every chapter.

From someone who researched Warren extensively (as an amateur) it was obvious to me how much first hand research Forman did for this biography. This is *not* a regurgitation of information you can find in other sources.
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