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As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution (Pivotal Moments in American History) Hardcover – February 8, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0195382471 ISBN-10: 0195382471 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195382471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195382471
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Richard Archer's book is a remarkably fresh examination of the story of the British occupation of Boston in the years before the Revolution. Its close attention to the social and economic context of the dramatic events of those years gives the book much of its richness; and its telling of the events themselves, ending with a splendid account of the Boston Massacre, is accomplished with great clarity, detail, and verve. Altogether it is a fascinating book."--Robert Middlekauff, author of The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789


"In ways that are familiar today when American forces occupy faraway lands, the British military occupation of Boston in October 1768 deeply radicalized the town's citizens. In this crisply written account, Richard Archer walks the reader through Boston's crooked streets and along the waterfront with such narrative verve that we can almost see, hear, and feel the seething tension that grew for seventeen months before the Boston Massacre. With his careful research and nose for telling detail, Archer allows us to understand why Boston led the colonies into independence."--Gary B. Nash, author of The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America


"As If An Enemy's Country provides a long-overdue explanation of how the American Revolution began. Richard Archer has connected the dots in this extraordinarily well-written, concise, thorough and engaging account of the British occupation of Boston after 1768. Archer shows how the relationships between the Boston mob and the provincial elite, among merchants, trade, and religion in Boston's unique political culture turned rebellion into Revolution. An essential book--a fascinating story well-told."--Robert Allison, author of A Short History of Boston


"Archer utilizes a wealth of primary sources, from diaries to depositions, to provide an edifying account of the 17-month British occupation of Boston from October 1768 to the winter of 1770. ... Beginning with British attempts to consolidate the empire and gain revenue from the Colonies in the form of innovative taxes and concluding with a perceptive analysis of the Boston Massacre, Archer astutely delves into the milieu of a Colonial city alive with mobs, patriots, and the omnipresent British army. The uniqueness of Archer's superbly crafted tale lies in his discussion of how the politics of nonimportation polarized the elite of Boston society on the eve of revolution. VERDICT Combining engaging prose and a wealth of interesting characters, Archer has provided students and general enthusiasts alike with a concise, appealing work of first-rate scholarship."--Library Journal, starred review


"Archer goes into [...] detail, drawing good portraits of several principals, including John Hancock and cousins John and Sam Adams."--Tampa Tribune


"A gripping narrative of the occupation of Boston."--LAmag.com, The Reading List


"[T]his is a serious historical analysis rich in details, primary sources, and the minutiae that make up our history. Excellent."--Sacramento Book Review


"Archer has done a great job describing Boston, the tension in the people, and the way the tragedy unfolds. ... I recommend [his book] to anyone interested in the events leading up to the American Revolution."--1776mag.com


"In a fresh look at the Boston Massacre, Richard Archer searches for the tie between foreign occupation and political violence."--Dissent


"A lively and sympathetic history of pre-Revolutionary Boston under British occupation." --The New Yorker


About the Author


Richard Archer is Professor of History Emeritus at Whittier College. He is the author of Fissures in the Rock: New England in the Seventeenth Century.

More About the Author

Richard Archer is Professor of History Emeritus at Whittier College. He is the author of Fissures in the Rock: New England in the Seventeenth Century.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Occupying armies have had much the same effect throughout history. Richard Archer describes the British occupying army that landed in Boston in 1768. He writes a detailed book with names and descriptions, the laws and acts passed and the reasons for the actions of both the politicians and the army.

There is very little of the social aspects of the time described. The point is emphasized that this was an army whose mission was to protect the interests of the British Empire, not individual citizens. Little is mentioned of the higher tax rates in England, the emphasis is on the lack of representation.
Bit by bit, detail by detail, demonstration by demonstration is explained. This book is much like a political and military report.
The broader interest for most would be the social ramifications of such a force and time in history. Instead this is a detailed account of how this occupying force; where 1 in 5 in Boston were wearing the red coats of the British army, led the citizens into the radicalization that led to the Revolution.
If you want a lighter reading or a broader history you need to look elsewhere, but if you are interested in this one specific occurrence in American history this book will give you the ultimate in clarification.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
History, despite the series of great, often socially cataclysmic, events taught in school or emphasized by civic commemorizations, is composed of increments and a nexus of myriad causes and effects. Author Richard Archer focuses on the background of the occupation of Boston by regiments of British soliders that led to the famous Boston Massacre. It is a story of economics. Straddled with huge debts from the Seven Years War with France and a home populace intolerant of increased taxes, England sought to place the financial burden onto the colonies in America, which as we all know had no representation in Parliament. The story unfolds on how Boston merchants abetted by newspapers and the rabble attempted to remedy the situation over the ensuing years and how the many missteps in policy, in factional disputes, and in later massive military presence slowly radicalized the populace. We also learn of the racism within New England, where slavery existed, and how the free Afro-Caribbean drummers of the British troops were regarded with disdain. The rich details of this scholarly book are like brush strokes in a developing painting. While the action moves slowly until the crescendo of the Massacre itself, the picture is of cautious skirmishes, fear and protest, taunts and simmering anger, blunders, and layer upon layer of political ploys. As we read, the rising tension of the populace is perceived. This is a valuable book that offers a historical microcosm. [Indeed, I recall a time when my university city was under occupation by state, regional, and local police and also by the military. I understand exactly what those Bostonian citizens felt.Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Richard Archer's "As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution" details the how and why the American Revolution broke out where and when it did. The British military occupation of Boston in the late 1760s , as presented in this book, was the key event that radicalized regional politics and gave birth to a permanent coalition of previously separate power bases and political forces. The notorious Stamp Act and taxes on tea and other imports all played an integral role in the development of events, of course, but it was the display of naked military force thrust into a civilian community that went beyond all else in laying the groundwork for April, 1775. British ministries and military leadership were confident that dissent would be quashed by stationing a few thousand troops in a continual, highly visual presence. Instead, the tactic fed fuel into the fire and dramatically demonstrating that the British government viewed the American colonists not as true Englishmen but as a distinctly separate and inferior Other. Revolution was no longer unthinkable.

Archer's account of these events is both revealing and riveting, showing them as complexities with fascinating characters too often lost in quick surveys of the historical past.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike in Glen Head, NY on September 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What was our country's most pivotal moment? If the British government had not imposed taxes on the colonies, would it have been necessary for British troops to occupy Boston? "As If an Enemy's Country", part of the Pivotal Moments in American History series, shows why that occupation became the spark that ignited opposition to British rule and led to the American Revolution.

After the Seven Years War, known in America as the French and Indian War, Britain needed to raise taxes to pay for the defense of its North American colonies. Since the British people didn't want to pay higher taxes, the obvious solution was to get the colonists to pay. Archer describes in detail how the resistance to these taxes eventually forced the British to occupy Boston to enforce its customs laws and to protect its revenue agents. With one man in five wearing a red coat, it was inevitable that tensions would rise, culminating in the Boston Massacre, during which five colonists were killed.

Readers will learn how the colonists worked cooperatively to oppose the British. One of their most effective tools was the Nonimportation Agreement, a pledge by the merchants of Boston to stop importing British goods until all revenue acts were repealed. Violators' names were published in Boston newspapers and citizens were urged to boycott their businesses. One merchant who did not sign the agreement "questioned whether a society had the right to pass legislation that was compulsory for individuals to obey if they had not supported the measure." However, he was forced to comply because "there was a social good that superseded individual liberty." This belief that our Founding Fathers had back in 1769 continues to be debated to this day.
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