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Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty Hardcover – November 21, 2011
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Book of the Year - American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia
"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
"Joseph Warren is afascinating work of research and historical sleuthing that applies amuch-needed medical expertise to the story of one of revolutionaryMassachusetts's preeminent physicians and political leaders. Thanks to Forman'sterrific new book we will never see Dr. Joseph Warren in the same way again."
- Nathaniel Philbrick
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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I have been a fan of Dr. Warren for a long time, and it is about time he re-assume his rightful role among the pantheon of American heroes. My commendation to the author for drawing attention to an almost forgotten but monumental American figure.
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. The appendices are readable gems themselves, examining the doctor's medical account books and various artifacts attributed to him. And since behind every great man stands a great woman, Mercy Scollay, Warren's fiancée, is finally given her due as well. (Only two questions remain, for me, unanswered: what could he have been, if he had lived? And: when did this guy sleep???)
I've been interested in Joseph Warren since I read Johnny Tremain in middle school nearly 30 years ago. Over the years, I attempted to track down more information on Dr. Warren and soon began calling him "The Most Famous Person No One Has Ever Heard Of". If readers have heard of Warren, you will inevitably learn more in this new biography. If you haven't heard of him, give this book a try - you'll wonder why it's taken so long to bring the full story of this Revolutionary "missing link" to life. And thanks goes to Samuel Forman for doing it so well!
Without the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill, it is difficult to imagine how the uprisings in Boston would not have led to independence. And, without Joseph Warren, it is difficult to imagine how the rag tag militias in Massachusetts could have become an army.
For people interested in this period, I highly recommend reading both Forman's book as well as Nathaniel Philbrick's Bunker Hill. I would suggest reading Philbrick first because it puts Forman's book into historical context.
The good is REALLY good and is worth going through the bad to get it. Here is rediscovered and put back in his rightful place a Patriot as important as ANY other founding father bar-none.
The bad is there but worth "suffering" through. The author tends to get caught up in some fictional fantasies I personally did not care for. He gets redundant at times going over the same ground again.
With the negative being acknowledged, his in - depth research is notable.
A worthy read to get to know the amazing respectable Dr. Joseph Warren.
But all in all this book is well worth the read. And a story about a forgotten founder who played a huge part in our revolution. Everyone should know his story. Thanks for writing this book. This is not a revisionist writer, but a true historian with footnotes.
Most recent customer reviews
It should have been condensed.