Apparently, there have been two Boston Tea Parties.
The first, of course, was the 1773 rumpus featuring Massachusetts colonists dumping tea into Boston Harbor to protest extortionist taxation by their British overlords.
The second, this weekend’s Wall Street Journal informs us, occurred exactly 200 years later:
In front of Boston’s Soviet-style City Hall, a knot of angry protesters rain expletives and fruit upon their Democratic senator while holding aloft tea bags in protest of an “activist judiciary.”
That would be “the heavy-breathing anti-busing campaign of Louise Day Hicks” evoked in Dominic Sandbrook’s Mad As Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right.
The new book posits that social movements like Boston’s anti-busing battles (along with the antigay crusades of Anita Bryant in the ’70s) were precursors of the current Tea Party, even though they had “surprisingly short shelf lives” according to the Journal.
The same might be true of Sandbrook’s new offering, if enough people read the Journal review.
[H]erein lies the most troubling flaw of “Mad as Hell,” one that won’t be apparent to the casual reader. It’s only by consulting the book’s footnotes that one discovers, by looking inside the books he cites, that Mr. Sandbrook shamelessly and repeatedly cannibalizes the work of others, offering what could be generously called a 400-page mash-up of previous histories of the 1970s.
Take this passage, where Mr. Sandbrook, in vivid prose, describes the 1976 bicentennial celebration in Boston: “As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the church bells pealed, howitzers thundered, fireworks sent shards of color wheeling through the sky, and red, white, and blue geysers burst from a fireboat behind the Hatch shell.”
These aren’t Mr. Sandbrook’s words but two sentences grafted together—one from a 1976 Time magazine article (“As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, howitzers boomed, church bells pealed”), the other from J. Anthony Lukas’s “Common Ground” (“geysers of red, white, and blue water burst from a fireboat behind the band shell”)—with a bit of strategic re-editing. Both sources are named in the book’s footnotes, but in the text the sentence is passed off as the author’s own.
Time to throw Mr. Sandbrook into the harbor?