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Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free [Kindle Edition]

John Ferling
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

No event in American history was more pivotal-or more furiously contested-than Congress's decision to declare independence in July 1776. Even months after American blood had been shed at Lexington and Concord, many colonists remained loyal to Britain. John Adams, a leader of the revolutionary effort, said bringing the fractious colonies together was like getting "thirteen clocks to strike at once."

Other books have been written about the Declaration, but no author has traced the political journey from protest to Revolution with the narrative scope and flair of John Ferling. Independence takes readers from the cobblestones of Philadelphia into the halls of Parliament, where many sympathized with the Americans and furious debate erupted over how to deal with the rebellion. Independence is not only the story of how freedom was won, but how an empire was lost.

At this remarkable moment in history, high-stakes politics was intertwined with a profound debate about democracy, governance, and justice. John Ferling, drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, brings this passionate struggle to life as no other historian could. Independence will be hailed as the finest work yet from the author Michael Beschloss calls "a national resource."

Editorial Reviews


"Ferling expertly explores the multiple motivations that led to independence in July 1776, both inside the Congress and among the public."—Boston Globe

"[Ferling] seizes on an underappreciated but profoundly significant moment in the eight-year War of Independence—the decision to not merely compel the British to reverse a series of onerous acts, but to break away from the empire entirely, and declare themselves a free and independent nation."—HNN
"Mesmerizing. Masterful. History written with the gravitational pull of a good novel. A history book that deserves to become a big best seller."—Dan Rather

"This is how it really happened. In unequivocal prose, John Ferling captures the combined bluster and outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. He exposes the quirks, while exploring the vision, of the opinionated, opportunistic delegates who were present in Philadelphia in 1776; he shows us just how they rhetorically overcame the 'mystique of invincibility' that attached to the British military, before launching America, in the words of one delegate, 'on a most Tempestuous Sea.' Independence is rich in personality, and Ferling unsurpassed as an authority. This is no ordinary history."—Andrew Burstein, author of Jefferson’s Secrets, and coauthor of Madison and Jefferson

"John Ferling has established himself as one of the leading chroniclers of the American Revolution, but Independence goes beyond anything he has written before. Instead of recycling the familiar story of the Revolution, he has given us an enlightening and exciting book that proves that history has no guarantees or foreordained outcomes. Expertly blending biographical vignettes with fast-paced narrative and sure-footed interpretation, Ferling captures the mystery of historical contingency in exploring the period between the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the declaration of American independence in 1776. Not even the founding fathers knew what the future would bring; Ferling performs a national public service in reminding us of this basic fact, and demonstrating it with elegance and style."—R. B. Bernstein, distinguished adjunct professor of law, New York Law School, and author of The Founding Fathers Reconsidered and Thomas Jefferson

"In clear and elegant prose and with formidable scholarship, John Ferling freshly examines the period that led to declaring independence. By focusing on the character of leaders in both England and her colonies as they intersected with circumstances, he captures the uncertainty of the times and the unpredictable journey to the declaration itself."—Edith B. Gelles, author of Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage
“A venerable historian of the American Revolution focuses on the events between the shot heard round the world and the signing of the Declaration of Independence . . . A lucid, erudite account of a period both terrifying and supremely inspiring.”—Kirkus
"In this splendid book, noted founding-era historian Ferling presents a convincing narrative of American independence that focuses on the role of contingency in the colonial break with the mother country . . . Ferling’s entertaining and edifying work is sure to find an audience among general readers."—Booklist
Noted for his knowledge of the Revolutionary era, Ferling . . . again gives us a narrative hard to surpass in fluency and authority.”—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

John Ferling is professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he has appeared in many documentaries and has written numerous books, including The Ascent of George Washington, Almost a Miracle, and the award-winning A Leap in the Dark.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4000 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055ARPX0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,217 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh look at the struggle for Independence August 11, 2011
By AnneB
Indepedence is a detailed look into the struggle America went through in its decision to break free from England. John Ferling gives us a look at both sides of the struggle. We read of the fears a lot of colonists had about revolting against England, and we see the views of other colonists who thought it was necessary. We also get to read about what was going on in England at the time, George III's response and the difficult time that his prime minister, Lord North, had in dealing with the colonists. The book takes us from the very beginning of trouble with the talk of taxing the colonies to the signing of the Declaration.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was thorough, well researched, and put together into a compelling story. What I thought really set this book apart was John Ferling takes the time to really describe all of the important people from this time. While reading I felt like I had a picture in my mind of what each person looked like, their personality, and their strengths and weaknesses. He made them all very human. I also learned a lot of new and interesting things. I have never really looked at the revolution from England's point of view before and it was fascinating reading about the problems Parliamant and the King faced. I also enjoyed reading more about Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, and so many other important men from this time. I feel like I have a much better understanding of their individual personalities now.

The only criticism I would give is that sometimes I felt bogged down in too much detail and a few parts were a bit boring. Other than that I would highly recommend this book for a fresh look at an important time in history. If you enjoy books by David McCullough, I think you will enjoy this book as well.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully insightful July 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John Ferling presents material masterfully from his broad knowledge of the Revolutionary Period of U.S. History. He has given new insight into the background political maneuverings of this period from the American and English points of view. One comes away with a much broader understanding of this interesting period of our History and the contributions of great men of that era. I really enjoyed the way he gave brief, yet concise biographical histories of the major players in this time period which added significantly to exactly what their impact was during the American Revolution. He has a marvelous talent in weaving the fabric of historical material, that is both interesting and entertaining, into a clear picture of what was actually going on and of the motivations that led to our independence. I believe him to be one of the premier historians of our age. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying his work and not gaining vastly in their knowledge of U.S.History from his clear and insightful presentations. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more of Mr. Ferling's future work.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Work August 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My only regret after having read "Independence" was that I had not purchased the book prior to my trip to historic Philadelphia. the structures where the delegates of the Second Continental Congress met to debate the great question of independence would have been more vivid and more meaningful. Be that as it may, John Ferling will rekindle and enliven your perhaps forgotten particulars regarding the momentous events that led up to and including the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

One of the many things that brought back remembrances for me was the fact that the colonies had been warring with Great Britain well over a year before the famous document came into existence. Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and two unsuccessful invasions of Canada were consummated before signatures were dried. Another revelation was how strong the feelings of reconciliation with the mother country over independency permeated the thinking of many delegates, including Benjamin Franklin following his extended sojourn to France and his hopes of making Pennsylvania a royal colony.

The mini biographies of many of the important delegates are quite enlightening, particularly their
lives and fortunes as they were unveiled following the War of Independence.

"Independence" certainly captures the flavor of the times and provides insightful commentary on the people and events that forever changed the course of history. John Ferling has certainly satisfied this reader in this notable and knowledgeable work.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blew me away! October 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Everyone has a style of writing that they generally prefer so my experience with this book may not be the experience had by everyone else. However, I really enjoyed the style, pace, and content of this book. I bought it on July 4 because it was a kindle daily deal but I am certainly interested in reading more of the works written by John Ferling. This book is unique and clears up some misconceptions that people may have about Congress and the background of the American Independence. The book is not structured as a story but more as a journey. Here are some key points which may be helpful to you when deciding whether to buy this book.

Dr. Ferling starts with the premise that the study of history is best looked at when we return to the time itself. History has a way of appearing to be pre-scripted. However, lots of things could happen and change its course. To understand the revolution it is not enough to know that it is a pivotal moment in American History, but one must return and try to retrace the crisis that led to the birth of America. Turning back to discuss the drama of the history adds the elements of humanity such as fear, uncertainty, rebellion, and outrage. Dr. Ferling does not tell the history of a bold nation who unanimously forged together to oppose Britain. There were competing views about the future of the country. Lots of men came together with different ideas about direction America should take and it took a while before they were able to come together and break ties with England.

First, he retraces some familiar background by dealing with the issues and grievances that the Americans perceived were being foisted on them by the British. Along the way he does a very clever job. He slowly starts picking up characters and adding their history into the narrative.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Independence
Pretty good, if fairly simple, account of the American revolutionary war.
Published 1 day ago by Dale Kraemer
4.0 out of 5 stars stupid or crazy things and wish we could understand their ...
A peek into the minds of key players of the American Revolution. I, for one, am deeply fascinated by the nuances and factors that motivate people to do as they do, especially with... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Tristan Fermin
4.0 out of 5 stars I love Ferlings style
Robust and balanced amount of detail. I love Ferlings style.
Published 1 month ago by R. Brockman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not for the beginner
This book is very detailed, definitely not for the the beginner or even novice history buff. Much if the detail is interesting for those who are deeply interested in the origins... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tim Buchal
5.0 out of 5 stars A great overview of American independence
Ferling provides a great overview of the events that led up to American independence. I enjoyed reading about the debates that occurred concerning whether or not America should... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jmac
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love John Ferling as a historian & aurthor Great Book... should be read in all schools Suzanne
Published 6 months ago by suzanne mannuzza
4.0 out of 5 stars An important history of the birth of the US.
This is a very interesting book centered on the Continental Congress in the days leading up to, and including the early days of, the Revolutionary War. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mel Couchman
4.0 out of 5 stars A differant slant
It features some lesser written about fathers.
Published 6 months ago by B. Scott Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good read
Published 7 months ago by Doyle Snyder
4.0 out of 5 stars The creations of a country
This was a well written book. It covered the causes very well. I liked the research that was applied. It helped to see the colonial point of view. Read more
Published 7 months ago by tom adkins
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More About the Author

John Ferling is a leading authority on late 18th and early 19th century American history. He is the author of many books, including Independence, The Ascent of George Washington, Almost a Miracle, Setting the World Ablaze, and A Leap in the Dark. To learn more, please visit his website:

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