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Nina Sankovitch, author of The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family, and Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, has a new book coming out in March 2020, titled American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution

Books

American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution.

In American RebelsSankovitchfollows the intertwined lives of John Hancock, John Adams, Josiah Quincy Junior, Abigail Smith Adams, and Dorothy Quincy Hancock, all of whom spent their childhoods in Braintree, Massachusetts. How it that such prominent leaders of the American revolution all came from a tiny village? The answer is fascinating, complex, inspiring, and largely unexplored — and makes for great story-telling.

Raised as loyal British subjects who quickly saw the need to rebel, the collaborations of the Hancocks, Quincy, and Adams against the Crown and Parliament were formed years before the revolution and became stronger during the period of rising taxes and increasing British troop presence in Boston.

Together, the families witnessed the horrors of the Boston Massacre, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill; the trials and tribulations of the Siege of Boston; meetings of the Continental Congress; transatlantic missions for peace and their abysmal failures; and the final steps that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

American Rebels explores how the desire for independence cut across class lines, binding people together as well as dividing them―rebels versus loyalists―as they pursued commonly-held goals of opportunity, liberty, and stability. Nina Sankovitch’s new book is a fresh history of our revolution that makes readers look more closely at Massachusetts and the small town of Braintree when they think about the story of America’s early years.

American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in March of 2020.

The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family 

The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family, Sankovitch’s third book and the first to be published by the wonderful St. Martin’s Press, tells the story of the Lowell family, from Percival Lowle’s arrival in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639 through the blazing of Amy Lowell’s poetic glory in the early twentieth century.

The family boasted some of the most astonishing individuals in America’s history: Percival Lowle, the 68-year old patriarch who arrived in America in the seventeenth to plant the roots of the family tree; Reverend John Lowell, the big-hearted preacher; Judge John Lowell, lawyer extraordinaire and a member of the Continental Congress; Francis Cabot Lowell, manufacturer and founder of the Industrial Revolution in the US; James Russell Lowell, American Romantic poet and abolitionist; Lawrence Lowell, one of Harvard’s longest-serving and most controversial presidents; and Amy Lowell, the twentieth century Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who lived openly in a Boston Marriage with the actress Ada Dwyer Russell.

Critics hailed The Lowells of Massachusetts as “[A] stirring saga …Vivid and intimate, Ms. Sankovitch’s account entertains us with Puritans and preachers, Tories and rebels, abolitionists and industrialists, lecturers and poets … Ms. Sankovitch has made a compelling contribution to Massachusetts and American History.” ( The Wall Street Journal)

Meet American’s Most Extraordinary Family: the Lowells of Massachusetts,” said The Washington Post: “Sankovitch has searched out these letters to write the powerful story of one of America’s most extraordinary families, a family that helped shape the course of American history in dramatic and decisive ways…By the final pages of this volume, one feels deeply attached to the individual Lowells, while also exhilarated at having experienced this grand sweep of American history.

“[Sankovitch’s] skillful blending of context and detail makes the vicissitudes of one family emblematic of a nation’s,” proclaimed The New Yorker.

The Connecticut Post called it, “an astonishingly compact 328 pages (considering how much family history it covers) and reads like a fine novel. You might be reminded of one of those deep digs into history and storytelling that James Michener used to do in his novels “Hawaii” and “Chesapeake.”

“A fascinating collective biography … paying tribute to both worthy individuals and everyone else in this prominent, complicated family,” said Booklist.

The Library Journal also recommended The Lowells of Massachusetts“Sankovitch’s use of interpretative passages breathe color into descriptions of home life of various Lowells, adding an artistic dimension to the account. Her ability to switch the focus among the family members while keeping readers fully engaged in the narrative is a significant achievement.”

“A sturdy, busy multibiography of an eminent American family… Exhaustive work by a clear admirer and dogged researcher,” said Kirkus Reviews.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Sankovitch’s second book, titled Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (published by Simon & Schuster), is a history of letter writing, written after she found a treasure of letters in the backyard of a decrepit brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Spanning forty years, from the 1890s through the 1930s, most of the letters were from a son to his mother, and included the daily notes he sent to her during his years at Princeton, from 1908 to 1912.

Sankovitch’s discovery of the letters of James Seligman and his family, along with her lifelong love of letters and the fact that her oldest son was leaving for college sent Sankovitch on a quest to understand the history of letter writing, and to define the qualities of letters that make them so special.

Oprah hailed Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing, as a book “every joy-seeking woman needs to read” and my second book also received celebratory reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, Library Journal, and Booklist.

Sankovitch followed publication of Signed, Sealed, Delivered with a TED talk about the joys of letter writing, which can be viewed here.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading 

In 2011, Sankovitch’s first book,a memoir about reading a book a day for a year, titled Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, was published by HarperCollins. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair tells the story of how reading helped Sankovitch continue on in the world after her oldest sister died of cancer, and also relates the history of her family: her immigrant parents with their three girls, struggling and thriving in the Midwest after enduring tragedy and hardship during World War II.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair was hailed as “an outstanding debut” by Kirkus Reviews and designated a “book to read now” by Oprah. It was widely hailed as an ode to the joys and comforts of reading, including by The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, Bookpage, Publishers’s Weekly, and Booklist.

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Contact

Sankovitch can be reached through her Facebook page, Nina Sankovitch.