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Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025442
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Philbrick’s newest work chronicles the cradle of the American Revolution, Boston’s action-packed years of 1773–76. Opening with the consequences of the Boston Tea Party, Philbrick depicts the arrival of British army and naval forces, the manifestation of the royal government’s intention to quash the burgeoning rebellion in Massachusetts. Its leaders, patriots like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren, provide the drama’s counterpoise to British officials. Having deployed his characters, Philbrick launches each side’s resort to military preparations and operations, a narrative that benefits from one of the author’s several imaginative services to readers, detailing in word and map the geography of Boston and environs at that time. Another audience benefit is Philbrick’s evocation of the look of patriot militias and British regiments, which enliven his crackling accounts of military movements that produced the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Displaying, as in Mayflower (2006) and The Last Stand (2010), a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs. --Gilbert Taylor


“Lively…Philbrick, guides us beautifully through Revolutionary Boston…”
New York Times Book Review

“Masterly narrative… Philbrick tells the complex story superbly… gripping book…”
Wall Street Journal

“A masterpiece of narrative and perspective…”—Boston Globe

“You will delight in the story and the multitude of details Philbrick offers up.”—USA Today

“Riveting, fast-paced account…”—Los Angeles Times

“Philbrick writes with freshness and clarity…”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“This is popular history at its best: a taut narrative with a novelist’s touch, grounded in careful research.”—Miami Herald

“Philbrick … has a flair for using primary sources to create scenes that sweep readers into the thick of history…BUNKER HILL is a tour de force, creating as vivid a picture as we are likely to get of the first engagements of the American Revolution…Philbrick is a gifted researcher and storyteller…”—Chicago Tribune

“Philbrick…offers…surprising revelations and others in BUNKER HILL, a comprehensive and absorbing account of a battle…Extraordinary events produce extraordinary individuals, and Philbrick’s portrayals are remarkably penetrating and vivid…Given the scale of the story, Philbrick, confirming his standing as one of America’s pre-eminent historians, somehow manages to address all the essential components in a concise, readable style”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Like a masterly chronicler, [Philbrick] has produced a tightly focused and richly detailed narrative that just happens to resonate with leadership lessons for all times….Philbrick is at his most vivid in conveying scenes of battle, both on the road between Boston and Concord and on the ridges of Bunker Hill. But what adds depth to the narrative is his fine sense of the ambitions that drive people in war and politics.”
Washington Post

“Another fine history from Nathaniel Philbrick…”—The Economist

“Though you know the ending, you whip through the pages…”—Entertainment Weekly

“Quite masterfully, Philbrick does not sink to simply good and evil distinctions in the run-up to Bunker Hill. The author reminds us that the freedoms colonists wanted were never intended to apply to blacks, American Indians or women. This was a messy time when decisions were sometimes dictated by ambition instead of some nobler trait.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“[Philbrick] captures the drama—martial and emotional—of the months before and after this legendary clash.”—The New Yorker

“Philbrick spices his text with first-person accounts from many participants in the drama, including patriots, loyalists, generals, privates, spies, even the victim of a tar-and-feathering. This is easy-reading history, uncluttered by footnotes and assisted by some excellent maps.”—Seattle Times

“Fascinating….No one can tell you about the history you thought you knew quite like Philbrick…”
Cape Cod Times

  “Philbrick … will be a candidate for another award with this ingenious, bottom-up look at Boston from the time of the December 1773 Tea Party to the iconic June 1775 battle….A rewarding approach to a well-worn subject, rich in anecdotes, opinion, bloodshed and Byzantine political maneuvering.”—Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Exhaustively researched, intelligent, and engaging narrative with a sophisticated approach. Collections … should certainly acquire this….”—Library Journal

“Philbrick tells his tale in traditional fashion—briskly, colorfully, and with immediacy….no one has told this tale better.”—Publishers Weekly

“Crackling accounts of military movements…a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs.”—Booklist

“Philbrick shows us historic figures, not only as if they had stepped away from their famous portraits, but as if we had read about them in last week’s newspaper…Philbrick has developed a style that connects the power of narrative to decisive moments in American history.” —Nantucket Today

“A compelling, balanced and fresh narrative.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Philbrick’s research is phenomenal …I suggest you pick up this enjoyable read.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

“You’ll never have history told like this in school. If it were, you might find more kids interested in it.” —The State Journal-Register
“A gripping, suspense-driven recounting of the battles of Bunker and Breed’s Hill…I couldn’t put this book down with its seductive, detail-sharpened, heart-stopping narrative made all the more human by the people involved…powerful, eloquent, infinitely compelling, and just plain awesome.” —Providence Journal
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Nathaniel Philbrick
Life at a Glance

1956 in Boston, Mass.

Linden Elementary School and Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, Pa.; BA in English from Brown University in Providence, RI, and an MA in America Literature from Duke University in Durham, NC

Philbrick was Brown's first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978; that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI; today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Tiffany Jane 34 Marie-J in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.

Melissa Douthart Philbrick, who is an attorney on Nantucket. They have two children: Jennie, 23, and Ethan 20.

After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine; was a freelancer for a number of years, during which time he wrote/edited several sailing books, including Yaahting: A Parody (1984), for which he was the editor-in-chief; during this time he was also the primary caregiver for his two children. After moving to Nantucket in 1986, he became interested in the history of the island and wrote Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People. He was offered the opportunity to start the Egan Maritime Foundation in 1995, and in 2000 he published In the Heart of the Sea, followed by Sea of Glory, in 2003, and Mayflower, due in May 2006.

Awards and Honors
In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award for nonfiction; Revenge of the Whale won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award; Sea of Glory won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society. Philbrick has also received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for distinguished service from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, and the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#74 in Books > History
#74 in Books > History

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Customer Reviews

Philbrick as always is well researched and written.
Warren was the acknowledged head of the patriots and his death at the Battle of Bunker Hill was a great blow to them.
Kenneth L. Johnson
It was an easy read and I was actually sorry that the book ended.
Robert E. Freeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Peter Harris on April 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
(via advanced review copy)

Have you ever heard of Dr. Joseph Warren? If you're not a revolutionary war buff, you're to be forgiven if you haven't (at least I hope so, since I'd never heard of him). Warren, a popular doctor and president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, is the unsung hero of the American Revolution who quite possibly may have been the revolution's top general and perhaps our first president had he not been shot on Bunker Hill (well technically Breed's Hill, which we learn, is where the battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought), while trying to rally the troops. The fleshing out of Dr. Warren's life and his stomping grounds in and around Boston, are Nathan Philbrick's domain in Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution.

Philbrick has the gift of great historians and writers; that is the ability to see the much chronicled with a depth and creativity that helps us see it with fresh eyes too. David McCullough's John Adams immediately comes to mind, as does Ron Chernow's tour de force biography of George Washington. Nathan Philbrick has done that here, except in this case, the main protagonist is Boston--at the time, the city "known for its love of liberty, its piety, and its prostitutes." Though soon and forever thereafter, it would be known for the bravery of its beleaguered and besieged citizens. Given the recent marathon bombing, the timing of this book's release is a bit eerie.

In Bunker Hill, Philbrick has done a powerful if sometimes painful to read job of recreating vivid battle scenes in and around Boston. What makes this much more than just a lesson in military geography is his well-crafted sense of storytelling and his finely tuned sensitivity to the personal drives behind the individuals making history through war and politics.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Nathaniel Philbrick continues to publish intelligent history that is accurate and written for a general readership. His latest effort, Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution continues such a wonderful record that includes Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War as well as The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. All clearly demonstrate the author's talent for research and demonstrate a huge curiosity.

It is also refreshing that, in addition to the cast of characters we've come to love and respect in the American Revolution such as George Washington, John and Sam Adams, and Paul Revere, that we're introduced to men such as Dr. Joseph Warren, who was perhaps one of the most significant individuals in Massachusetts and Boston leading up to and during the Battle of Bunker Hill (really Breeds Hill). He was killed during the battle and might have been a major mover in the years to come. One of Philbrick's characteristics is his workman like manner in delivering facts such as Dr. Warren to the reader. However, this does not mean his prose is drab or not interesting. In fact he is one of the more talented authors writing in the history genres presently.

It is fair to say that the American Revolution was the result of a movement of resistance to British unfairness and harsh treatment, both on the American continent and also in London. Much of the population of Massachusetts never really felt that full-scale revolt would happen, until it actually did. It should be pointed out that while Philbrick's book deals almost exclusively with the Boston area, growing dissatisfaction was present in other colonial centers, but it was the spark in Lexington, Concorde and Bunker Hill that finally set the kindling afire.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bunker Hill is a colorful and exacting history of the Battle for Boston and the events leading to it. Philbrick's strength is in his presentation of a driving, detailed narrative. It focuses on the questions of who, what and when albeit with a bit less emphasis on why.

The Battle of Bunker Hill makes little sense without an understanding of how Boston came to be a city under siege in 1776. The author does a good job in the first half of the book, however, in adding fresh insights to his summary of the events preceding the conflict. In doing so, he gives full credit to the role of Joseph Warren, who perished at Bunker Hill, avoiding the usual historical emphasis on Adams and Hancock. In the weeks ahead of Lexington and Concord, Warren "not only continued his leadership role in the Congress and the Committee of Safety: he would be present in the ranks at virtually every encounter between colonial and British forces." In the two critical months prior to the battles at Lexington Green and Bunker Hill, Warren "became the most influential leader in the province of Massachusetts."

Philbrick is at his best in rendering these encounters in a journalistic style that succeeds in bringing to life scenes that sometimes can seem colorless through the process of so many retellings. Witness his description of the first British volley at Concord Bridge: "Action private Abner Hosmer was shot through the face and killed instantly.
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