The Boston Massacre

By Serena Zabin,

Book cover of The Boston Massacre: A Family History

Book description

“Historical accuracy and human understanding require coming down from the high ground and seeing people in all their complexity. Serena Zabin’s rich and highly enjoyable book does just that.”—Kathleen DuVal, Wall Street Journal

A dramatic, untold “people’s history” of the storied event that helped trigger the American Revolution.

The story…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Boston Massacre as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Serena Zabin recounts the complex relationships in late 1760s Boston as British troops occupied the colonial port and intermingled with the local population as neighbors, friends, and in marriages.

She draws extensively from primary sources and local records to demonstrate the interpersonal affairs that existed in the years leading to the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Zabin’s ability to weave together many strands and connections in Boston affairs sheds greater light on the impact of that single event and its aftermath on individuals and the community.

Throughout this book, Zabin’s research skills and narrative highlight the generous relationships ultimately…

The Boston Massacre: A Family History takes an event that I thought I knew inside and out, an event I teach in my classes, and tells an entirely new story.

The soldiers who shot the protestors in Boston on a wintery day in 1770 are usually the villains—Paul Revere and other Boston revolutionaries labeled the deaths a “massacre,” after all. But by starting a few years earlier, Zabin shows the British soldiers as young men coming to a colonial town that was also, at the time, British.

They lived in colonial houses, made Bostonian friends, and married Bostonian women. So…

Zabin’s engaging book picks up where the history books leave off.

Any text on the Revolution will touch on that fateful night in March 1770 when British soldiers killed five protesters but Zabin masterfully guides us into the human drama leading up to, and the aftermath of, the incident.

We learn about John Adam’s agonizing decision to defend those hated soldiers, the widespread, sometimes tragic, desertions of British occupation troops, the torment suffered by Boston women who married British soldiers during the occupation, and the pungent smells, sounds, sights, and daily pulse of King Street, where the massacre occurred.


The Boston Massacre is one of the most famous events of the American Revolution era – and yet it is often seen as a singular incident.

It was in fact the culmination of months of activities, and was followed by many more months of dramatic repercussions. This book tells the story of the people involved, and their relationships with each other: the men, women, and children living in Boston; the soldiers and their wives quartered there; and others who happened to be in the area during these momentous events.

Far from two opposing sides separated by nationality and ideology, the…

From Don's list on people in the American Revolution.

On March 5, 1770, British soldiers stationed in Boston killed five colonists, outraging the continent. and pushing Americans toward war. Serena Zabin offers a fresh perspective on the Boston Massacre, focusing on the people involved in the incident and their families. This book takes us on a tour of eighteenth-century Boston, detailing where soldiers lived among the colonists, and how they became part of the civic family through friendships, marriage, and shared interests. I especially like how Zabin looks at the women involved in this story. We meet Jane Chambers who accompanied her redcoat husband to America, as well as…

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