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Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier: The Narrative of Joseph Plumb Martin (Dover Books on Americana) Paperback – May 26, 2006

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Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier: The Narrative of Joseph Plumb Martin (Dover Books on Americana) + A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin (Signet Classics) + Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Americana
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (May 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486451461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486451466
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sareinhart on April 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book because I heard Joseph Plum Martin quoted on nearly every documentary about the Revolutionary War. I wanted to know what else was in his book. And what a fantastic book it was.

This was one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. Sgt. Martin was clearly an intelligent man, but a common man. I say this because it was written in the common man's english but the author was clearly intelligent. It was written by an old Sgt Martin who was looking back at his life as a soldier and evaluating his own conduct. That, too was clear.

Historians agree that this is probably an accurate account because he always placed himself at the right place based on the movements of his unit. But more importantly, Sgt. Martin's narrative is believable. He never makes himself out to be a hero. His accounts of combat almost never focus on his actions. (Which I feel could have lead to making himself into a hero) Instead it was...I saw this, I felt that or WE did this. When he did write about his own actions, it was never to puff himself up. At one point, he wrote that he wished that he did not kill a man that he took deliberate aim at, although he confessed he meant to at the time. In addition, he documents far more occasions upon which he acted foolishly than bravely. He does not whine about starving, but instead reports it. But, most interestingly, he includes short, seemingly inconsequential conversations and events. The addition of these events, far from being tedious provide a window into 1770 & 1780s America.

Another reviewer said, in the title of their review that this should be required reading for all 8th grade students. I agree.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Hoggatt on February 15, 2012
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First published in 1830, Joseph Plumb Martin's Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier is a remarkable account of the Revolutionary War as experienced by Martin, who first enlisted as a private in 1776, was promoted to sergeant in 1780, and finally left the army after the war concluded in 1783. There are many memoirs, biographies, and histories that center on the generals and political leaders of the Revolution, but Martin provides us with the everyman's perspective, and does so with intelligence and humor.

Originally published anonymously under the title A narrative of some of the adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a Revolutionary soldier, interspersed with anecdotes of incidents that occurred within his own observation, Martin sets out to give the reader insight into the difficulties faced by the brave soldiers who fought under the famous generals of the war. Martin does an excellent job of it.

The battles themselves occur very rarely, and consist more of chaos, fear, and luck than bravery or brilliance. A great deal more time is spent marching, freezing, and starving, and Martin dutifully conveys this. I had always been amazed at how the Continental Army won the war with such little material support from the populace, but hearing Martin's description of marching for days with no rations, eating only what can be scavenged from the land, really brings to life the courage and dedication possessed by the soldiers of the Revolution.

It's not all grim. Martin does a good job of putting a humorous spin on his constant hunger and fatigue, generating sympathy instead of boring the reader. Further, Martin doesn't shy away from describing the misadventures that he and his comrades in arms undertook during the war.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Day Bedford on April 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Unique resource for a study of the American Revolution. Served my purpose perfectly as background for a thesis on American wars.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Reedy on September 29, 2008
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Every American should read this book! This is the only account of the Revolutionary War told from a common soilder's point of view. It will make you appreciate living in the greatest country in the history of the world.
Michael Wyatt Reedy
Proud member of the SONS Of The REVOLUTION
John Rice Irwin Chapter Tennessee
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By troublebreaker on September 12, 2010
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I had very little knowlege of the Revolutionary War although I live in the Historic Triangle of Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg. This little book made the day to day life of a soldier become real. It also explains the background of the war the way history books can't. It's also entertaining with moments of teen-age hijinks (which we may not expect from starving soldiers) and very personal observations of our historic heroes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eros Faust on December 28, 2013
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I'm not sure if this, or Twelve Years a Slave, is the best book I've ever read, but it's a close call.

We learn nothing significant about the Revolutionary War in college history classes. We know nothing about it from popular culture, except for the brief exposure provided by Mel Gibson's The Patriot.

This book is the real deal. You'll learn about quartering of troops, the difference between specie and the Continental dollar, Tories, Loyalists, Cowboys and Refugees. You'll learn about warfare, Sappers, Miners, canister, and grape shot. You'll learn about the limits of the human body, vaccinations against small pox, the things you can eat to stay alive, and how it's possible to hike in the snow without shoes, and keep your toes.

Eight years is a long time to serve in the military. After reading this you may ask yourself "would I have been a Patriot, or would I have remained a loyal Englishman." I doubt I could do what these men have done.
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Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier: The Narrative of Joseph Plumb Martin (Dover Books on Americana)
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