Pre-publication praise:

“An ingenious examination of how money played the central role in the founding of the United States … Shachtman emphasizes that [after the Revolution] no mass movement demanded change. The Constitution was championed “by a very small subset of the country’s wealthy.” They looked after their own interests, and their priorities were social order, contracts, collecting debts, and a strong currency. However, as the author shows, unlike the ultrawealthy today, most embraced equality of opportunity …. A provocative argument that wealthy men built America and did a good job.” – Kirkus Reviews

“I was raised to think of the American Revolution as a rare moment in history in which neither “cherchez la femme” nor “follow the money” would get you to the truth.  Yet in The Founding Fortunes, following the money reveals a gritty reality that we can’t access any other way.  It evokes the sights, sounds and psychology of the era more vividly than a whole shelf of books about lofty ideals and governance.”     – Peter Petre, former executive editor, Fortune.


New for September 2020: A novel to be published by MADVILLE PUBLISHING.

Praise from an early reader:

“Shares its form with other popular retellings of the monster narrative such as John Gardner’s Grendel … and the narrative voice has likenesses to the exuberance, bawdiness, and blasphemy of Salman Rushdie and John Barth …. Packed with actions both big and small as it deals with themes of power, violence, sexuality, and the role of storytelling, its most endearing quality is the hilarity and absurdity of our classical values interacting with our animalistic cores …. Ultimately, the book is riotous …. I had a great time with it.” 



Pre-publication praise:

“The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.”  Kirkus Reviews.

“Shachtman illuminates the impact of French contributions to American military leadership, resources, and engineering knowledge, while also paying close attention to the effects of French-led international negotiations with Britain and Spain. Throughout he emphasizes the roles played by King Louis XVI, the Marquis de Lafayette, and others who worked closely with more-well-known American figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin….. Of interest to American-history enthusiasts and Francophiles alike.”  Publishers Weekly.

“A terrific read, incredibly researched, vivid, persuasive, wonderful details and analysis – everything you want history to be.”  Constance Rosenblum, former section editor, The New York Times.

“At last a full and compelling account of the crucial role that France and the French played in the American Revolutionary War.  This book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every American history buff.” Jeswald Salacuse, Distinguished Professor and Former Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment

Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment  by Tom Shachtman C-Span’s taping of lecture about this book at the New York Public Library

The book is a Featured Alternate for the History Book Club, Military Book Club, Scientific American Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club 2.

Adapted excerpt: George Washington, the First Vaxxer  at The Daily Beast

Praise for Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries

“A fascinating and unique look at the familiar history of the founding of the United States through the hyperfocused lens of scientific advancement.” – Library Journal

“An intriguing survey of science’s influence on the Founders.”   — Booklist

“Makes a strong case for the importance of science and technology in the creation of the United States …. A well-researched, lively entry into the current debate about the role of science in a democracy.” Kirkus Reviews

In this lively history … Shachtman makes an ingenious and convincing case that “science-based thoughts and actions were critical to the nation’s birth and early health—far more so than were religious doctrine or economic considerations.” — Publishers Weekly

“We might hear as children about Ben Franklin with his kite and key in the thunderstorm, but this lively and learned book gives us the grown-up view of the Founders and their fascination with things scientific. Employing a large cast of colonial characters–Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and other famous figures of the era, but also lesser-known thinkers and tinkerers–Tom Shachtman makes a compelling case that the American Revolution became a movement not only for political independence, but for scientific independence as well. Indeed, Shachtman shows us that the two can hardly be considered separable.” –Greg Nobles, Professor of History, Georgia Institute of Technology, and co-author of Whose American Revolution Was It?

“This splendid book tells the eye-opening story of America’s founding generation as first-class scientists. We know how they created the government of the United States. Here we learn much more – and what a story it is!” –Lee Dembart, former science editor and science book reviewer, Los Angeles Times

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American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of Eric Hoffer

American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of Eric Hoffer by Tom Shachtman“Excellent new biography …. [Hoffer’s] name has gradually faded from view. Yet, as his biographer points out, Hoffer continues to contribute insightful ideas and opinions to society, which is why we ought to look to his writings once again.” – The New Criterion, September 2012

Known as the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer was a beloved and controversial figure. Using Hoffer’s never-before-seen archives, this biography uncovers the steps by which an unschooled migrant field hand and dockworker created himself as an artist and thinker, relates how his background and occupations were reflected in his published works, and analyzes Hoffer’s books and articles and their impact on his times.

“As complete and masterful a biography as could be imagined, a great study of Hoffer, an American icon—provocative and stimulating. Shachtman also provides an interesting view of the period.” -Herbert S. Parmet, biographer of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon

”Eric Hoffer speaks with remarkable clarity to many of today’s most difficult questions. Tom Shachtman presents this visionary thinker and his ideas with page-turning style and thought-provoking insight. A long overdue rediscovery of the longshoreman philosopher by a fine writer.” -Walter W. Woodward, State Historian, Connecticut

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Rumspringa, To Be Or Not To Be Amish

Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman“Shachtman is like a maestro, masterfully conducting an orchestra of history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and journalism together in a harmonious and evocative symphony of all things Amish.” – Christian Science Monitor. Now in paperback.                  

A favored title of book discussion groups, for dialogues on faith, morals, and the difficulty of raising teenagers.

Some additional excerpted reviews, below.

Publishers Weekly starred review: “Shachtman is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. Throughout, he uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move.”

“Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society. High recommended.” Library Journal

“A riveting and instructive portrait,” Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Shachtman’s wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.” Wall Street Journal

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The Most Beautiful Villages of New England

The Most Beautiful Villages of New England by Tom Shachtman“This is one of the few ‘coffee table’ books I own. But it covers all the gems and must-see villages … and provides plenty of information on the history and architecture of each …. In the depth of a New England winter this is a book I take to bed with me and dream of spring.” — The New England Online Magazine.

Honored as the birthplace of the Revolution, the six states that comprise New England are home to some of this country’s most beautiful and cherished villages–places that preserve and reflect its architectural and cultural legacy. Here, in countless public squares and cemeteries, are monuments to the battles of the Revolution, and memorials to the heirs of the revolutionaries who themselves marched off to preserve the Union during the Civil War.

One of the most splendid repositories of American institutional architecture is found in New England’s public meeting halls and churches, and in the industrial mills and factories of the nineteenth century. The book also celebrates New England’s rich tradition of domestic architecture: seaside homes clad in weathered gray shingles, white clapboard houses surrounding village greens, and exuberant Victorian gingerbread homes. New England is justly famous for its succession of intensely realized seasons: its deep and snowy winter; its spring, which bursts forth in a cascade of melting snow and budding vegetation; its leafy, languid summer days; and, perhaps most famously, its autumn, when the landscape seems to be on fire with the vivid reds, oranges, and yellows of the foliage.

The Most Beautiful Villages of New England presents over twenty-five towns and villages, chosen for their beauty and history, and for their diverse geography. Here are the fishing villages and towns of New England’s rocky Atlantic Coast, from famous summer watering holes to isolated island hamlets. We explore farming villages and the highlands of New England’s mountain ranges–the Adirondacks, Berkshires, and Green Mountains. In the river valleys we find quiet, exquisitely preserved communities and renovated mill and factory towns.

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The Inarticulate Society

The Inarticulate Society: Eloquence and Culture in America by Tom Shachtman“A perceptive and disturbing book …. Our inability to use language articulately has consequences beyond aesthetics, says Shachtman. It threatens the survival of democracy ….. Loss of analytic capacity makes us easy prey for Big Brother and his Orwellian gang.” — Washington Post Book World

Originally published in 1995, THE INARTICULATE SOCIETY: ELOQUENCE AND CULTURE IN AMERICA has been reissued in paperback because of continued interest in the book and its subject — articulate behavior. As with RUMSPRINGA, it has become a favorite of book clubs seeking good topics for discussions. Here’s why, in a review from the American Library Association:

“People talk more and say less, and that summarizes Shachtman’s wide-ranging analysis of the verbal ineptitude that television so obviously fosters. But he doesn’t saddle the tube with sole responsibility for ineloquence. It more abets than causes the crisis, which emanates from deeper problems, such as the mass appetite for witless entertainment in talk shows, sitcoms, or action movies. Trenchant examples of disjointed, muddled speech overlay the scholarly linguistic theories that Shachtman explains, making this a rich warning about the ever-growing impoverishment of public rhetoric.”

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The Forty Years War

THE FORTY YEARS WAR, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEOCONS FROM NIXON TO OBAMA, by Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman. Now in paperback. “An eye-opening, provocative history of the neoconservative movement from its little-known role in Richard Nixon’s downfall through its ultimate expression in the preemptive war in Iraq.” — History Book Club News   

“Absorbing…a must read….illuminating and deeply provocative….The Forty Years War is a book that deserves to have a much higher public profile as Colodny and Shachtman are marshalling new evidence to challenge conventional interpretations of late Cold War political history and foreign policy. –

“[Colodny and Shachtman] tell the story from Nixon to now, and they do it in meticulous and interesting detail.” –Chicago Sun-Times

“A rigorous and critical examination of the neoconservative movement and the bureaucratic, ideological battles over American foreign policy from 1969 to 2009.…[A] captivating chronicle. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal

“A well-reported, fast-paced history lesson on the eternal conflict between ideologues and policymakers and the hubris that always accompanies success.” – Kirkus Reviews

Len Colodny and I were the featured guests at the Washington, D.C., World Affairs Council on January 7, 2010 in a ninety-minute discussion taped by C-Span. First shown on January 31, 2010,it is now available on their website. We are pleased that more than 3,000 people have since looked at excepts of the program on the C-Span Book TV website or downloaded the video.

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