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Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers Hardcover – May 8, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400097924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400097920
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Political journalist and historian Barone (Hard America, Soft America) elucidates the template for America's independence movement in this well-written history of its forerunner: England's Glorious Revolution of 1688. The author describes the origins of the revolution, a mostly bloodless change of government, as a mixture of religious, political and diplomatic factors. King James II's Roman Catholicism, hostility to Parliament, and French sympathies alienated an increasing number of his powerful subjects including John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, who invited Dutch Stadtholder William of Orange and his wife, Mary, James's sister, to intervene. Among the revolution's consequences was a Bill of Rights that limited the monarch's powers and strengthened representative government. A Toleration Act encouraged variant forms of Protestant worship. The creation of a funded national debt and the foundation of the Bank of England laid the groundwork for financial development. Involvement in the long series of wars with France moved England from a country standing apart from Europe to one that took responsibility for maintaining a continental balance of power. It was a Glorious Revolution indeed that laid the political groundwork for the world in which we now live, and Barone's lucid work honors its heritage. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Barone, the high-profile sage on American elections (The Almanac of American Politics, 2006), here turns to England's Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. To this well-studied topic--the author draws extensively on biographers of its leading figures--Barone productively contributes his scholarly trademark: analysis of elections. Several parliamentary canvasses were conducted during the Stuart Restoration, whose elements of procedure, franchise, and electoral arithmetic Barone breaks down over the major issue in play, which was rife with the possibilities of civil war: the rights to be accorded to Catholics and, specifically, converted Catholic James II. Barone proves a dramatic narrator of this question's volatile course in the 1680s, from Parliament's attempt to exclude James from the succession to Charles II, to the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion of 1685, to the settlement of the crisis in the invasion by William of Orange and Parliament's elevation of him to the throne. Applying a readable historical contingency to these complex events and their ramifications for America, Barone's account will be welcomed by avid history readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

This is an amazing story!
Put the green manuscript down for a couple of weeks, then come back to it an read it as though you were not the author.
Roger Snowden
Why is the map of The United Provinces so sketchy, so that major towns mentioned in the text don't appear on it?
Lev Raphael

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Lev Raphael on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I don't disagree with the praise of various reviews, professional and otherwise, but this is one of the more poorly edited books I've come across in the past few years and that's why I give it only 3 stars. I'm not talking about typos or transposed words, though there are enough of those instances.

No, there's a larger problem here: repetition. Two pages after Barone tells us that the fortress of Phillipsburg "spans the Rhine," he repeats the same phrase. Historians he's quoted from are re-identified. Two or three times we hear that Holland was a whirlwind of printing presses and pamphlets which were a chief propaganda tool. The ways in which James tried to pack Parliament are explained more than once in too-similar language, and I could list other examples of unnecessary repetition in a book that's under 250 pages of primary text. They're all annoying.

Almost as annoying is the lack of maps, the quality of what's there, and their placement. Why is the map charting the progress of William's army in England tucked in after an appendix and almost 100 pages after it's necessary? It's not even mentioned in the Table of Contents. Why is there no full map of England with its various counties, since they're so frequently brought up? Not even an Anglophile like myself knows where they all are. Why is the map of The United Provinces so sketchy, so that major towns mentioned in the text don't appear on it? Why is there no map of Europe in that period, so that when mention is made of various principalities and duchies you can see where they are? Had I not just read Jessica Mitford's Frederick of Prussia, I wouldn't know where many of the German states referred to in Barone's text are located. These are not trivial omissions in a book about the movement of armies and the threats to sundry territories.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By George Mole on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I very much expected to enjoy this book, interested as I am in English history. However, having only reached page 102, I can't help but feel that I'm reading an unedited first draft rather than a finished product. Disappointingly, the book appears to be full of typos, contradictions of fact, and bewildering and clumsy constructions.

To give a few examples:

* On page 6, the author is discussing the populations of various areas at the time of the Glorious Revolution. He writes: "Britain's North American colonies had about 250,000." But then, at the end of the same long and confusing paragraph, he writes, "...Spain's Latin American colonies had approximately 10 million, while the English North American colonies had only 280,000." I kept looking for the signal phrase that would indicate that the numbers 250,000 and 280,000 are meant to refer to different things, but I can't find it.

* On page 24, the author writes that "John Evelyn heard the sermon at the king's chapel...." I don't believe that Evelyn had previously been introduced in the book, and there is no explanation of who he is. He is mentioned at least one other time, again with no clue as to who he is, on page 27. But then, on page 49, the author introduces a quotation from Evelyn's diary with this phrase: "As John Evelyn, a Kent landowner who seems to have known everyone in London, noted in his diary...." Wouldn't it be better to give us that short explanation of who Evelyn was the first time he's mentioned?

* On page 97, the author introduces "one of the most remarkable characters of the period, Robert Spencer, the Earl of Sutherland." However, later in the paragraph, he refers to him not as Sutherland, but as Sunderland.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Levesque on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's a common misconception that the last time the British Isles were successfully invaded was in 1066 when William the Conqueror defeated Harold at Hastings. But many forget that William of Orange, invaded and occupied England, with the complicity of many nobles, claiming the throne for himself in 1688; in fact, Dutch soldiers controlled London's streets for ten years. For someone not well-versed in this episode and period of history, like me, I found this to be a great overview.

The book's strength is its analysis of the geopolitical context that surrounded William's decision to invade and James II's action and inaction. Besides the well known religious issue, a Catholic king vs. a protestant nobility and population, other pressures included William being fourth in line to the throne, with his wife being the second, and his desire to get England onto his side against France. At the same time France's military actions in central Europe and even Ottoman actions in Eastern Europe created the conditions that allowed William to act when he did.

The book's weakness is in its analysis of what it purports to do; argue that the "revolution" inspired America's founding fathers. After nine chapters of traditional narrative history Barone leaves this argument to the very end and offers little support. First his argument is based on an assumption that Catholicism was bad for England and Protestantism was good. This assumption is critical because many of his arguments in favor of the "revolution" rely on what happened in England after the invasion vs. what MIGHT have occurred had James remained king. The problem with comparing the facts of reality to the supposition of what never occurred, but might have, is that it can never be proven or tested.
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