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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thorough And Well Organized Study
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...
Published on December 4, 2012 by John D. Cofield

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too deep into the weeds
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...
Published 14 months ago by jclunie


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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thorough And Well Organized Study, December 4, 2012
This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (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. Phillips is scholarly, but with a background in journalism and politics he is able to communicate more clearly and effectively than is sometimes the case. His decision to focus on four "vanguard colonies" is a good example of this. There are a number of well drawn and detailed maps, effectively named (my favorite is "Imperial Virginia") and well placed in the body of the work. Phillips provides detailed demographic, economic, and cultural data which I appreciated not just as an historian but also as a genealogist, since it allowed me a better idea of life in back country South Carolina, Tidewater Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, among other areas. Finally, I appreciated Phillips' coverage of the role played by religion and religious differences in the buildup to the Revolution.

It is rare to find a "history book" aimed at the general public which does not sacrifice scholarly rigor, but Kevin Phillips has ably accomplished this in 1775: A Good Year For Revolution.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Celebrating 1775!, December 10, 2012
This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (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. These four has most of the wealth and population and held old charters so they had a history behind them.
Communications was a problem and the British did not get word of some of the changes in the colonies. Then the British had bad maps of the coast line or really understand the geography.
Phillips notes the large make up of slaves and indentured servants in the new territories. As the diversity of the nationals ideals moved away from the political and constitutional class with Britain and a push for economic self-determination.
One poignant issue then that we face today is money. At first the lack of a common currency created problems then after independence inflation and a pumping up with more money printed from $5 million by the end of 1775 to $15 million by mid-1776.
Overall what I enjoyed about the book is that it reframes some our basic assumptions into a realistic portrait that no matter how much we glamorize the early days, they had a lot more problems that we had today. If the successes of 1775 did not happen or if which was possible not happen we either would be speaking with a British accent or have taken shape into a mini-European model of small states.
This book is an eye opening look into one perspective of the history of the United States. It is a detailed history lesson that makes will make you appreciate 1775. I learned a lot of new facts and it was nice to venture back to those days that are often taken for granted. Everyone needs a good history lesson now and then.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too deep into the weeds, November 8, 2013
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real history is so much more interesting than what they teach in high school, March 27, 2013
By 
Charles Walbridge (Bruceton Mills, WV USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Revolutionary War Information, February 23, 2013
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I have read many books on the Revoluntionary Way and this book gave me many new facts and information concerning the state of both the colonies and England leading up to the War. This information was fascinating. I especially liked the in depth research and information concerning the religious implications in the several states. It contained a lot of facts concerning the battle of public opinion in England. I had never thought of that. There were comparisons with our Vietnam. I would recommend this book to all those interested in the formation of our nation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in places, but too long, May 25, 2013
This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Hardcover)
This book, by political commentator Kevin Phillips, is a lengthy look at the months leading up to the Declaration of Independence. As the author himself admits, the book largely covers the months from mid-1774 to mid-1776. As such, the title is a bit misleading, but selecting 1775 as the center of the era does allow for a short and pithy title. The book itself is much like a encyclopedia of subject on the situation in late colonial America, covering everything from religion, economics and ethnicity to geography and effects of various American and British policies.

Overall, I found this to be a good book. It covers a lot of very interesting territory, and is likely to have something you did not know about the Revolution. At the same time, though, I must admit that the wide reach of the book does mean that it covers a lot of subjects that are well known and as such most readers will find it far too long and very uninteresting in parts. It's a good book, but I would suggest skimming it for the good in it, rather than slogging through each and every one of its many pages.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gems among the trivia, December 19, 2012
This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Hardcover)
This would be a better book if it were half the length. Phillips writes with tedious detail giving the impression he is attempting to achieve academic respect by proving that more is better.

He does, however, substantiate his thesis that the "long year" 1775 -- from late 1794 to early 1776 -- was the most significant year of the American Revolution rather than the widely known 1776. It was the year that created a Continental Congress which united the thirteen colonies with delegates representing each. Their sessions determined their grievances against Britain required the establishment of a military force, methods for its supply, and personnel for its command.

It was the year of battles at Lexington and Concord as well as Bunker Hill where colonials demonstrated their well trained militia's ability to stand up to British regulars. It established public-private shipping channels for smuggling weaponry and gunpowder despite British embargos and it imposed a trade embargo that weakened Britain and established linkage with other Europeans -- especially France.

Phillips emphasizes the leadership roles of Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, and South Carolina -- the first two well known, the latter two far less -- probably because their 21st century population gives them far less significance today than their 18th century role. If you can wade through the trivia, there are thought-provoking gems here for re-evaluating the history we were taught in elementary school.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1775: A Good Year For a Revolution, April 21, 2013
By 
Kim Burdick (NEWARK, DE, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Hardcover)
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"1775" is a comprehensive and scholarly look at the event-filled years leading up to the American Revolution.

The author tells us: "... much of the 'history' of the American Revolution suffers from distortion and omission tied to the twentieth century's excessive immersion in 1776 as a moral and ideological starting point...And this it categorically was not."

If you are seriously interested in history, it is worth taking your time to really read and digest the material presented. "1775" requires a lot of note taking and thinking. This is NOT a good book for a general audience reader.

Important notice to HIS 101: This may not be the right book for you. Do not plan to read it the night before your paper or book report is due. "1775" is heavy stuff better suited to HIS 301.

Kim Burdick
Stanton, Delaware
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cousins, February 26, 2013
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This review is from: 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Hardcover)
The current trend in hefty books about periods in history is to title the book with a specific year. Kevin Phillips has joined that trend with his book 1775: A Good Year for Revolution. He uses what he calls a "long year" from late 1774 to early 1776 to show that this was the real period of revolution, despite our celebration of 1776 as the beginning of the American Revolution. Phillips' interest in the English Civil Warsfrom his book, The Cousins Wars, carries forward in the latest book as he describes how the divisions in England crossed the Atlantic to the New World. In some respects, the American Revolution was a civil war. This book will appeal to those history buffs who are patient with lengthy exposition and enjoy an abundance of tidbits and details. I enjoyed reading it, and learned a thing or two about the context of events I thought I already knew.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like an overly long term paper, February 23, 2013
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I hate to say this but I cannot recommend this book. It reads like a very dry term paper or college dissertation, a very looonnnggg one. I find it to be very boring. I have read many biographies and books on The Revolution and I actually had to stop reading this one. I will go back and finish it eventually. Sorry.
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1775: A Good Year for Revolution
1775: A Good Year for Revolution by Kevin Phillips (Hardcover - November 27, 2012)
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