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The Minutemen and Their World (American Century) Paperback – April 30, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0809001200 ISBN-10: 0809001209 Edition: 25th Anniversary Edition

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Editorial Reviews


"In this eloquent book, Robert Gross gives us a Concord that we have not encountered before, a surprising place that turns out to be not the quaint community of myth and legend, but a lively society, deeply engaged in the great issues of its revolutionary time--with all the tensions, anxieties, and aspirations that human being share."--Linda K. Kerber

"The Minutemen and Their World makes the American Revolution live--a vivid, compelling book that dramatizes the political consciousness and armed conflict in the very birthplace of the Revolutionary War. Few books have so brilliantly stood the test of time."--Jon Butler

"For historians, The Minutemen and Their World was a shot heard round the world. It taught us that fine history combines good scholarlship with good writing. Its reverberations are still being heard."--Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

"The Minutemen and Their World is a classic in--well, the classic sense of the world: a book of such enduring elegance and interest that it will find a readership in every generation."--Joyce Appleby

"A richly detailed picture of social life and social divisions in Concord, and a lively narrative of the coming of the Revolution there."--Edmund S. Morgan, The New York Review of Books

"This lovely little book captures, intimately and authentically, the life of an eighteenth century New England town . . . gloriously good."--Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Robert A. Gross is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Books and Libraries in Thoreau's Concord (1988) and editor of In Debt to Shays: The Bicentennial of an Agrian Rebellion (1993).

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Product Details

  • Series: American Century
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; 25th Anniversary Edition edition (April 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809001209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809001200
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jess M on May 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
The following is my book review for a history class. It is far from perfect but perhaps can help you start your own critical analysis.

The book tells an unconventional story of the American Revolution by analyzing the ordinary city of Concord, Massachusetts as a microcosm of colonial America. Gross argues that the struggle for independence from Britain was not a revolution but a conservative social struggle - a struggle with patriarchal control, religious zealotry, individualism, and localized control of government.

The first point of contention in Concord was unequal representation attributed to citizen's proximity to the town meeting hall - those who were physically closer dominated public opinion and policy. The town would also struggle with church and state - ministers were subsidized by the town and it was not possible to keep each citizen happy with the majority's choice. Local representation was another source of disagreement - the mid-eighteenth century government was influenced by (if not controlled from) England, an ocean away. Representation was worsened when the British levied heavy taxes to finance the Seven Years War. The popular majority fought against the colonial government who favored the hand that empowered them, if not fed them. Primary documents note the latter: "there is no greater...corruption...than when...executive officers depend...on a power independent of the people".

In the afterword, Gross explains his left-leaning ideological influences and how they shaped the topic of his research, his approach, and conclusions. Gross uses historical public records to tell a story, attributing emotion and motivation to statistical trends.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sally G. Knight on June 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's too bad that Minutemen has received so many reviews on Amazon written by intellectually lazy, immature undergraduates, who apparently aren't interested in people unless they appear on the covers of Sports Illustrated or People. Robert A. Gross, in 1977, received the prestigious Bancroft Prize awarded by Columbia University for outstanding work in the field of American history but, alas, no MTV award. This is a 25th anniversary re-issue of his book which is highly readable, engrossing, thought-provoking and entertaining.

We know that history is really made by ordinary people, that history is far more than wars, dates, treaties, and big-name leaders. But the stories of ordinary people are seldom available to us, especially 200 years (or more) after the fact. Using the techniques of social history research, Gross brings to life the real people who lived in Concord before, during, and after the events that started the actual fighting that was the Revolutionary War. I've always believed that no fiction can be as juicy as real life. Gross certainly gives us a juicy story of the lives and concerns of early Concordians. Conflict, sex, hope and failure. It's all here. And more. Gross also gives us a personal, moment-by-moment description of the events of April 18-19, 1975 in Lexington and Concord from the time British Redcoats left Boston, through the massacre in Lexington and the confrontation -- and first shots by the Patriots -- at the North Bridge in Concord, through the British retreat. And what about afterwards? What impact did these events have on the citizens in the years following? Gross lets us know.

What was special for me was discovering that Rev. William Emerson, the pastor who lived right next to the North Bridge and encouraged the Minutemen throughout their struggles, is the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson who was friend to Hawthorne, supporter of Thoreau, and influence on Alcott. All this from one small town!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Elsegood on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robert Gross has produced a work that is a pleasure to read in examining the town of Concord, through the lives of ordinary townspeople, before and after that memorable day of the 19 April 1775.This indeed is 'bottom-up' history but Gross ensures the interest never wanes through his sensitive and vibrant narrative.There were only some 1500 persons(about 265 families) in this very special town that witnessed the first battle of the American Revolution(although the first shots were fired in neighbouring Lexington, that was hardly a battle).Gross produces some interesting social 'gems' such as magistrates being regarded as 'fathers' to the people. Modern western society has long since ceased to have such faith in the judiciary-in fact they are often regarded as the enemy within! Church politics also had a larger significance in the life of 18th century Concordians than today.The aftermath of the Great Awakening (the huge spiritual revivals that swept the American colonies between the late 1730s and early 1740s) is also covered well by Gross in discussing the stuggles between the Old and New Lights. The battles of Dr Joseph Lee, for church membership, are particularly interesting. Gross also highlights the strains of war and the decrease in military enlistments from Concord as the war progresses. As a study of a community in an important era of America's history this social history is highly recommended.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Yalensian VINE VOICE on December 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I agree wholeheartedly with editorial reviewer David Hackett Fisher. This book reads almost like a novel, and yet it is a work of history--with solid research and scholarship, at that.
Gross argues that the Revolution provided Concord an opportunity to re-assert control over the community and its destiny. In the years preceding 1775-1776, great changes were sweeping across the colonies, particularly in traditional New England towns like Concord. For example, there was the problem of decreasing supplies of land, and fathers, with sometimes large numbers of sons, had difficulty providing for all his heirs (without dividing the land and, hence, making it less sustainable). Other issues were occurring specifically in Concord--such as the desire of its residents farther from the town to hire their own minister. So threatened, Concord was experiencing not just stasis but actual decline in these pre-Revolution years.
Therefore, with all these fluctuations and challenges, participation in the Revolution offered Concord a chance to seize initiative and regain control over its political and communal life, to restore its autonomy. Gross writes, "The men of 1775 had not gone to war to promote change but to stop it."
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