Confirmed sightings in New York City…

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A few weeks ago, I took a leisurely day trip to New York City with friends who had recently moved to the area.  As I emerged from Grand Central Station, blinking in the bright sunlight after a good ninety minutes on the train, I almost thought I was hallucinating when the first thing I saw in front of me was a little picture of British soldiers in cocked hats sitting atop a yellow taxi.  Thankfully, I had my camera out when this bus drove by moments later:

NYC ad - bus1

(I think the “Pledge Defiance” banner running along the top of the bus is an especially nice touch.)

My own experience was corroborated by two other perceptive Connecticut agents friends of mine who had visited New York City in recent weeks. Nisreen spied another TURN bus, while Steve surreptitiously snapped a photo of an ad in a subway station.

NYC ad - bus 2

NYC ad - subway 1

Over the course of the day, I saw many more ads for TURN on buses and taxis throughout the city — in fact, the only other TV show that seemed to be promoted more heavily than TURN in print advertising was HBO’s Game of Thrones.  Pretty fitting, since one of the show’s primary settings will likely be 18th century New York City, although you’d never know it from the ad itself.

If anyone else has spotted ads for TURN in their corner of the country, please share!  So far, this particular ad campaign guarantees that TURN is on the radar of literally millions of people in the New York City metro area.  Whether they’ll actually tune in for the April 6th premiere, however, remains to be seen.



Where to TURN to first?

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Greetings, fellow fans!

Whether you’re a fan of early American history, epic television dramas, or both, I’m glad you’ve stumbled upon this humble historian’s dusty corner of the internet. I hope you’ll stick around and join the conversation here as AMC’s new show about the Revolutionary War unfolds over the next few months!

(If this is your first time here, welcome! Check out the About page, and maybe a Historical Resource or two. Put your feet up and stay awhile!)

Even though the premiere of TURN is still over a week away, there’s already plenty to talk about. The TURN team at AMC has been busy these past few weeks, releasing trailers, cast and set photos, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and even an online comic book! I encourage you to check out their entire horde of goodies on the official show website.

As a historian of Early America with a special focus on the American Revolution, I find myself in a curious situation in these final days before TURN’s official debut. I know what should happen in the show; I’ve studied the history; I’ve written and spoken about it at museums and academic conferences across the US.  But since TURN is an artistic dramatization of historical events and not a documentary, it’s anyone guess (including mine!) as to how faithfully the “real story” of the Culper Spy Ring will ultimately be represented in the show.  Unlike other blogs and press websites, this one has no connection with AMC whatsoever — no “courtesy” screenings or advance access to scripts, episode synopses, or other privileged information.  “TURN to a historian” a completely independent, third-party site, and so you’ll find historical analysis here that you won’t get in officially sanctioned press releases or pre-approved blog reviews.  After each episode airs, I’ll be able to help make the line between historical fact and Hollywood fiction clearer without feeling obligated to tone things down or pull any punches.

I hope you’ll have as much fun reading this blog as I know I’ll have writing it.  There’s an infinite number of directions that Hollywood can (and often does) take with factual history, and since AMC is hoping that TURN will be its next big hit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them crank the drama up to 11 whenever they have the chance.  Stay tuned!

Now to all of you who are wondering “All right, enough stalling… when are you going to get to the GOOD stuff?” Mary Woodhull and I have one word for you:




The above picture is one of the many cast photos available on the official TURN website, and rest assured, we’ll be discussing it in full in the near future — both the good and the bad.  (Holy Civil War beards, Batman!)

For the past couple of weeks, as this blog has slowly taken shape on the internet, I’ve been wondering where to begin, since there are no episodes of TURN publicly available yet.  Earlier this week, AMC unveiled a new online graphic novel claiming to illustrate the origins of the Culper Spy Ring, and it looks to be a prime target of discussion. While I’m busy gathering down my own analytic take on it, you can read the comic for yourself here.  And what an interesting comic it is!  So check back soon for more updates — and don’t forget to TURN in for the show premiere on April 6th!