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Tales from a Revolution

Bacon's Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America

James D. Rice

Publication Date - August 2013

ISBN: 9780195386943

280 pages

In Stock

A vivid chronicle of one of the most dramatic events in colonial American history, and the first account to place Native Americans at the heart of the narrative


In the spring of 1676, Nathaniel Bacon, a hotheaded young newcomer to Virginia, led a revolt against the colony's Indian policies. Bacon's Rebellion turned into a civil war within Virginia--and a war of extermination against the colony's Indian allies--that lasted into the following winter, sending shock waves throughout the British colonies and into England itself.

James Rice offers a colorfully detailed account of the rebellion, revealing how Piscataways, English planters, slave traders, Susquehannocks, colonial officials, plunderers and intriguers were all pulled into an escalating conflict whose outcome, month by month, remained uncertain. In Rice's rich narrative, the lead characters come to life: the powerful, charismatic Governor Berkeley, the sorrowful Susquehannock warrior Monges, the wiley Indian trader and tobacco planter William Byrd, the regal Pamunkey chieftain Cockacoeske, and the rebel leader himself, Nathaniel Bacon. The dark, slender Bacon, born into a prominent family, soon earned a reputation in America as imperious, ambitious, and arrogant. But the colonial leaders did not foresee how rash and headstrong Nathaniel Bacon could be, nor how adept he would prove to be at both inciting colonists and alienating Indians. As the tense drama unfolds, it becomes apparent that the struggle between Governor Berkeley and the impetuous Bacon is nothing less than a battle over the soul of America. Bacon died in the midst of the uprising and Governor Berkeley shortly afterwards, but the profoundly important issues at the heart of the rebellion took another generation to resolve.

The late seventeenth century was a pivotal moment in American history, full of upheavals and far-flung conspiracies. Tales From a Revolution brilliantly captures the swirling rumors and central events of Bacon's Rebellion and its aftermath, weaving them into a dramatic tale that is part of the founding story of America.


  • Vivid, dramatic, and easy-to-read narrative
  • Incorporates the very latest scholarship in early American and Native American history
  • Incorporates common themes in both U.S. history surveys and specialized upper-division and graduate courses
  • Offers a fresh new interpretation of one of the most-studied episodes in all of American history
  • The first scholarly book devoted to Bacon's Rebellion to be published since 1957

About the Author(s)

James Rice is Professor of History at SUNY Plattsburgh. He is the author of Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson.


"Tales from a Revolution is a welcome synthesis of the recent scholarship on important events of the late seventeenth century in the Chesapeake and the Atlantic world. The book is appropriate for undergraduate courses and the general reading public."--The Journal of Southern History

"Important contributions include highlighting the roles of warring Indian tribes caught amid impossible dilemmas proffered by the whites, and Indian perspectives. Recommended."--CHOICE

"Rice accomplishes a good deal with this provocative piece of storytelling. As a work of colonial history it is notably user-friendly and resonant. And as a work of historiography it poses pressing questions that all students of history should take seriously."--Jim Cullen, History News Network

"Rice energetically brings to life a large cast of characters-Indian leaders, British officials, colonial governors, wealthy planters--and puts Bacon's rebellion in the wider context of a colonial population largely poor and restless, Protestant-Catholic animosity, and the politics of Indian nations' relations with the colonists and with one another."--Publisher's Weekly

"Rice convincingly argues that this critical event in American history helped to create the Old South and the convergence of slavery, westward expansion, and issues of race. Tales from a Revolution compares favorably with Wilcomb E. Washburn's classic The Governor and the Rebel, which is now more than 50 years old...Any collection catering to scholars and fans of colonial American history will find this a worthy addition"--Library Journal

Table of Contents

    A Note on Language
    1. Doegs! Doegs!
    2. The Susquehannocks' Dilemma
    3. The Governor and the Rebel
    4. "I Am in Over Shoes, I Will be in Over Boots"
    5. Jamestown Burning
    6. "The Uproars of Virginia Have Been Stupendious"
    7. "A Seasonable Submission"
    8. "Now Begins the Second Part of the Late Tragedy"
    9. "An Itching Desire"
    10. Tales of a Revolution
    11. Bacon's Heirs
    Select Bibliography

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