American Revolutions

28757817By Alan Taylor

The Short Take:

This splendid history gives you the full picture surrounding the formation of the United States of America; and brings an eye-opening surprise on almost every page. Taylor, recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, backs up his massive work with nearly 200 pages of footnotes. Informative, comprehensive, and mind blowing, I’m recommending this one to everyone.

Why?

Forget pretty much everything you learned in history class. The years before, during, and after the American revolution were messy, nasty, mob-driven, and fractious. Consider this: a substantial majority people in the North American colonies were either against the revolution or neutral. Wealthy planters, land speculators, and merchants were behind the Patriot cause, using Thomas Paine’s Common Sense to persuade the common folk that a revolution was in their favor when it actually benefited the rich.

Patriot mobs would tar-and-feather loyalists then trash and burn their homes and businesses. They also destroyed virtually every loyalist printing press around, leaving only one published point of view. Native nations alternately aligned with France, Britain, or Spain but only as it suited their defense against the land-grabbing Americans. Slaves often turned to the English during these times, looking for freedom but seldom finding anything but death.

Taylor doesn’t merely focus on the people, politics and battles; he goes deep into the economic forces that shaped every player’s self-interests and motivations. He also shows how the empire-driven countries of that time — Spain, France, and England — used the Patriot cause as leverage against each other when not salivating over how either American loss or victory could ultimately benefit them. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is certainly a more comprehensive one. And, it’s far more realistic than the rosy view we tend to take today.

There’s a mountain of information in this book; so much I could only read a few pages at a time. It’s not a “can’t put it down” book on American history, but it is certainly the most enlightening.

A Little Plot:

North American colonies revolted against England and fought against each other. Despite themselves, native populations, slavery, France, Spain, and England, a republic was finally forged.

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