McWilliams, James E.

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McWilliams, James E.

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Georgetown University, B.A., 1991; Harvard University, M.Ed., 1994; University of Texas, M.A., 1996; Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., 2001.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, Texas State University—San Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Southwest Texas State University, visiting professor, 2000–03; Texas State University—San Marcos, assistant professor of history, 2003–. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, scholar-in-residence, 2002.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships from Johns Hopkins University, 1997–2001, Harvard Business School, 2000–01, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000–01, and Massachusetts Historical Society, 2001; International Association of Culinary Professionals Foundation, travel grant, 2003; research grant, Harvard University.


A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

From the Ground Up: Internal Economic Development in the Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts Bay Region, 1630–1700, University of Virginia Press, 2005.

Contributor to books, including Cultures and Identities in Colonial British America, edited by Alan Tully and Robert Olwell, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Contributor to periodicals, including Texas Observer, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, Maryland Historical, Publishers Weekly, New England Quarterly, Maryland Historical, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Austin-American Statesman, Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Christian Science Monitor, San Antonio Express-News, and USA Today.

SIDELIGHTS: Historian James E. McWilliams documents how settlers in North America adapted to one aspect of their new environment in A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, a book described as "delicious from start to finish" by a Kirkus Reviews contributor. McWilliams writes that although they attempted to duplicate the gardens of their native England, settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who were unable to grow wheat eventually accepted the corn grown by Native Americans, even though that grain was used only for feeding livestock in England. This was an embarrassment to those who wanted to continue the dietary mores of their homeland. Although colonists further south had the benefit of better weather and soils, it took them longer to become self-sufficient. No gardens were planted in Jamestown until three years after it was settled, and the residents made other choices to ward off starvation. Much of their energy went into planting tobacco, a highly valued cash crop. When the Virginians did begin to develop their agriculture, they cared less than their Northern neighbors about the perception that they were eating pig food (corn). They also tended to have other people do their work for them, beginning with Natives, then indentured white servants, and finally slaves. Grains grown for the production of alcohol became an important component of the agrarian society, which was a factor in the establishment of trade routes. Library Journal reviewer Courtney Greene wrote that A Revolution in Eating is "meticulously researched and packed with fascinating detail."



Entertainment Weekly, August 12, 2005, Tina Jordan, review of A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, p. 83.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of A Revolution in Eating, p. 526.

Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Courtney Greene, review of A Revolution in Eating, p. 139.

Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2005, review of A Revolution in Eating, p. 45.

Washington Monthly, June, 2005, Alan Bjerga, review of A Revolution in Eating, p. 53.