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1775: A Good Year for Revolution Hardcover – November 27, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The year 1776 is often described as the year of this country’s birth. That is, of course, technically true. But Phillips, the acclaimed political analyst and historian, convincingly illustrates that it was in 1775 that the critical trends and events unfolded, so that our declared independence was a confirmation of facts already established on the ground: the lower houses of colonial legislatures had aggressively gained control, often driving out royal governors; the rhetoric of the Second Continental Congress became strident, even bellicose; and increasingly, that congress assumed the powers of a government. On a local level, various Patriot Committees enforced boycotts of British-made goods and made the lives of those deemed Tories very uncomfortable. Vast stretches of the Atlantic seaboard were “no go” areas for British troops. Independence was probably in the thoughts, if not on the lips, of many Americans by the end of the year. Phillips writes in a methodical and cooly dispassionate style, so those expecting a tribute to the “glorious cause” should look elsewhere. But he does provide a solid, well-argued, and informative re-examination of our beginnings as a nation-state. --Jay Freeman


"A feisty, fearless, edgy book, blissfully bereft of academic jargon, propelled by the energy of an author with the bit in his teeth.”--The New York Times Book Review

“In his amassing of mountains of facts from numerous monographs, Phillips has tried to do what most academic historians these days have not been much interested in doing—bring together all the meticulous research that has been going on for decades and turn it into a comprehensive and readable book designed for general readers. Much of what Phillips has written is clear and free of jargon. His assessments of the various military situations, especially those faced by the British, are always realistically based, and his judgments of what was possible and what was not possible for the British to do are always sound.”--The New York Review of Books

"Enthralling."--Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)

"Impressively authoritative...[A] deeply researched, meticulously argued, multidimensional history."--Kirkus (starred review)

"A solid, well-argued, and informative re-examination of our beginnings as a nation-state."--Booklist

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st edition (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025121
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1999 Kevin Phillips published The Cousins' Wars, a comparative study of the English Civil War, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. In many ways 1775: A Good Year for Revolution is a continuation of one of Phillips' primary theses in his earlier work: that the Revolution was not so much a revolt as it was a civil war, with large numbers of sympathizers on both sides in both Britain and the American colonies. Phillips' new work is also a very well organized and eminently readable examination of the causes of the Revolution and the critical first year of fighting.

The title of the book is based on the idea that many have that somehow the Declaration of Independence was the beginning point of the Revolution, that it emerged more or less fully fledged without much thought or background, and that once it emerged the conflict and the question of independence was immediately resolved. I majored in history and taught high school social studies for many years, so I didn't need to be convinced of the fallacy of this general view, but I found Phillips' highly detailed and well written explanation for why it's a fallacy highly interesting and thorough.

The book is divided into four segments: a brief Part I containing the Introduction, Part II on the buildup and causes of the Revolution, Part III on the critical year of 1775 itself, dealing with the actual military movements on both sides and the accompanying supply and economic issues, and finally Part IV "Consequences and Ramifications" summing up the aftereffects of the first battles and their implications for the remainder of the conflict. I enjoyed reading each section.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Wilson Trivino on December 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The old maxim "the best of times and the worst of times" is often quoted but the deeper meaning forgotten, especially in today's rough and tumble world of politics. We tend to be nostalgic and rekindle some kind of forgotten magic that has long passed. The old timers share war stories and say how great things used to be with our contemporary history books painting the mystical tale of successful periods in our history. There is no way these founding fathers could have imagined that we would still be around as a nation or the many changes.
As an American the year 1776 has been engrained as the year our nation embarked on this democratic experience that has sustained for over two hundred years. The battles, Paul Revere's ride, Jefferson penning he Declaration of Independence and the tea party. Were these pinnacle events that occurred in 1776 or was the mark further back?
Author Kevin Phillips has been on the political scene for over a half century and written extensively about some of the major political realignments. Like most in the field he had grown disillusioned with the politics. In his new book, 1775: A Good Year for Revolution he steps back to our nation's early days about the emerging republican (small-r) majority or plurality.
Phillips makes a convincing case that 1776 is not the most important year to remember in our history but it was actually 1775 when major events moved in favor of the revolutionaries. He documents and tells in vivid detail events and observations that pointed to his case. Here are some of the points I found interesting in the book 1775.
Out of the colonies only a few: Connecticut, South Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts made up the vanguard of the Revolution, contributing two thirds or even three quarters of its momentum and leadership.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By jclunie on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was thoroughly and meticulously researched and the author is incredibly careful to credit the many different sources and historians upon whom he has relied. He discussed many points with which I was not familiar and I have read a number of other books about the American Revolution. However, thorough research should be accompanied by a writing style that is readable and does not bog the reader down in minutia and too much detail. I struggled reading this book as the author went on and on in an effort to either make his point or to show off the thoroughness of his research. I feel that if an editor had been able to convince the author to shorten some of the narrative, the same points could have been made in fewer pages and in a more interesting manner. You will not feel short-changed with the amount of data that is presented - if you can make your way all the way to the end.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles Walbridge on March 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The revolution was about a lot more than taxation without representation. Rather, the British were systematically trying to keep the American colonies down by limiting currency to hold down the economy, making trade with any country other than Britain illegal, closing access to prime fisheries, and prohibiting the expansion of industries like iron and steel making. In doing this, they managed to anger a vast number of colonists from all regions. When the colonists petitioned for reconsideration, they tightened the screws further. 1776 was the culmination of over a decade of this misguided policy. A bit slow going in places, but worthwhile!
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