Customer Reviews: Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution
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on November 2, 2000
Not being much of a history buff myself (though this is changing)I decided to pick up a copy of Patriots after reading several impressive reviews here. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.
The author paints an excellent picture of the American Revolution from it's first spark (The Stamp Acts) to the tide turning defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Read about Washington's stunning and strategic retreat out of New York as if you were actually there seeing it for yourself. Read about the significant roles patriots like Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock among others played in the founding of our great republic.
Although the book is lengthy (about 563 pages)it is well worth your time and is extremely enjoyable and easy to read. Battles, personal information about the patriots, and detailed information regarding the events that formed our country fill this book and makes Patriots an essential necessity for each and every person wanting to learn about how freedom started and eventually triumphed in America.
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As a lifelong history buff I thought I knew how the American Revolution began. I didn't, not until I read PATRIOTS, The Men Who Started the American Revolution. For the first time I was INSIDE the political actions, you might say the political conspiracy, that brought America to independence. Finally, and in full-color, I could see how Sam Adams sparked a handful of activists to struggle for years through all kinds of adversity to awaken the American People to their own rights, and to the need to defend them. Sam Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, John Adams, George Washington and others come to life as human-beings and as "political animals" in this incredible pean to the power of the individual to change the world. This fascinatingly readable book takes all the boredom out of history. If you read only one book on the American Revolution in your whole life, make it this one.
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on December 19, 2005
I bought "The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbon and "Patriots The Men Who Started The American Revolution" by A. J. Langguth because they were "important" books and because I thought that while they wouldn't necessarily be "good reads" they would be "good for me."

Both books languished on the book shelf awaiting a long trip, a bout with the flu or some other occasion when time would weight heavily on my hands.

Time passed and finally when I was almost brain dead from reading less than sterling commercial fiction I, with some hesitation about a book with 563 pages, picked up "Patriots.

I shouldn't have lingered in picking it up or hesitated about reading it.

"Patriots" is a sensational book, a great read and a definite page turner.

While the book is of course historical, and apparently well researched, fact it reads like contemporary best selling fiction. Think Mario Puzo and "The Godfather" and Dan Brown and "The Da Vinci Code" for starters.

I let favorite TV programs go unwatched while I read. I read at night. I read in the morning. When I finished the last page I was bereft. I wanted volumes 2. 3, 4. 5 and even 6.

The pages sing as Washington, Jefferson, Hancock, Revere, Arnold, John and Samuel Adams, King George III, William Pitt and generals, soldiers, statesmen, wives, husbands, lovers, farmers and everyday citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, and on the issue of American independence, come to life with all of their human frailties, foibles, accomplishments and disasters.

A. J. Langguth is a brilliant writer and "Patriots" should be required reading for anyone with the slightest interest in history or for anyone who loves a good book.
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VINE VOICEon February 4, 2000
You won't want to put this book down.
Meet the makers of our revolution. For almost any reader, you'll find a well written portrait of those you know and be introduced to those who history has not favored with as much coverage as they deserve.
These thoroughly American personalities are the story of our Revolution. Anyone who doubts the "Great Man" theory of history will be hard pressed to counter the argument that but for the stout hearts and devoted souls who grace the pages of PATRIOTS our struggle for independence may not have come off.
The tale of these heroes is majesticly told by the author. Not a chronology of the war, but a portrait of the mind and spirit of the revolution as reflected in those who risked all to wage and win it. This is a great book that will fill you with pride and wonderment and hopefully thankfulness for those brave enough to bring forth the American nation.
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VINE VOICEon June 18, 2004
How delightful it is to find so many well written and priceless stories of the events leading up to and including the American Revolution. Langguth has done a tremendous service for anyone wanting to learn more about the events of the revolution or for anyone simply wanting a quick reference to specific events.
The book covers significant events in chronological order, beginning with James Otis and his 1761 court battle against the British Writs of Assistance, through General Washington's farewell to his staff at the conclusion of the revolution.
This is the first I have read of Langguth and I am most impressed with his no nonsense style that cuts right to the facts, but does so without making it read like a textbook. If there is anything at all missing from this fine work, it would be the inclusion of some of the historic battles on the southern front such as Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse, which are regrettably omitted. There is a group of patriots who fought in the south that we owe so much to that has been completely overlooked such as Morgan and Marion.
I would highly recommend this book for students, home-schoolers and just anyone wanting a good source of American historical events revolving around the Revolutionary War. You would be hard pressed to find so much information about a variety of events and people who played significant roles in our founding struggle than you will find in this single volume.
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on November 29, 1999
Buy this book. Don't wait or make excuses. Get it right now and get ready to completely enjoy history that reads better then fiction. Meet Patriots that you've heard of, but never knew. Go to places that sound familiar and learn the ground and the events. Get ready for pure entertainment in the guise of History! This book is tremendous!
A.J. gets to the heart of things, and in no time. I find it hard to imagine that he can tell this story in 560 some odd pages, and never get boring. His smart style reads fast and easy. No deadly classroom lessons here friends. I enjoyed meeting Hamilton, the 2 Adams boys, Benedict Arnold, and the Howe brothers. I never thought that they were that interesting until this book. I enjoyed my visits to Boston, Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown. And poor Johnny Burgeone, trudging through the woods of New York...
All are alive and well, living in this book. Open the pages, read the words, meet the men and visit the places. See George run (everywhere), and Ben wear his ratty old hat in France. The book is just too good for words. Read it now, or always wonder what you've missed.
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Several recent authors have profited by employing a common method to breathe new life and energy into the somewhat over-trodden path of early American history. By meaningfully locating specific critical personalities ranging from Samuel Adams to Patrick Henry within the locus of the specific times, writers like A.J Langguth and others use the intersection of biography and history to best advantage, rendering the essential glue of drama and circumstance to help the reader better appreciate the human drama within the welter of historical circumstance. Langguth has done so memorably elsewhere with his tome on Vietnam, "Our Vietnam", where he was a journalist for several years in the 1960s during the war. In "Patriots; The Men Who Started The American Revolution", he succeeds marvelously in enthusiastically re-animating our latent interest in events that many of us are at least superficially quite familiar with.
Here we find the basis for and conduct of the revolution as it unfolds before us, in all its complex circumstance, as seen through the eyes of those who experienced it. The book opens with a stirring explanation of how early patriots like Sam Adams came to view the British with seething contempt and a growing belief in the need for independence, based as much on economic concerns as on a sad litany of injustices and neglect visited on the colonists by the Crown. One quickly comes to appreciate Langguth's amazing eye for telling detail and informative description, and one finds himself drawn into the vortex of the colonial world in all its vexing dimensions. We stand with Washington in his times of doubt and despair, and marvel at the intellect and foresight of daring dreamers with an almost uncanny appreciation for the art of the practical by watching Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine crafting the various documents articulating the revolution and the evolving breakaway government for the foundling republic in its first formative stages.
This is a book full of both meticulously performed research and arresting facts, which the author uses to advantage to build the story and create a sense of suspense despite the fact that we all know how it turns out. By locating us with the actors on the ground as things are happening, he gives us what can only be described as a journalistic look at the unfolding drama, such that we better comprehend what life was like for the colonist as they struggled toward freedom and independence, often at most unattractive odds. One walks away from the book with a finer understanding of the specifics of the revolution itself, its importance historically, and a profound admiration for the astounding human beings who carried it all off. Enjoy!
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on June 11, 2002
This is a well written book that held my interest throughout. Like a good novel, it tells a story that kept me turning to the next pages to find out "what happened." The story, in this case, involves the events that led up to the American Revolution, starting with James Otis's opposition to the writs of assistance in 1761 and ending with George Washington's farewell to his troops in 1783.
In between, A. J. Langguth (a professor of journalism, who wrote Our Vietnam) generally does a masterful job of telling us about the dynamic, brave, sometimes vain, and often brilliant leaders (most notably, Samuel and John Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Joseph Warren, and Benjamin Franklin), who rebelled against the mother country. And there are also the not so great, who made terrible mistakes on the battlefield (Charles Lee) or switched to the other side (Benedict Arnold).
Langguth also does a very good job in describing the key battles of the war, and the strategy of both sides. The details provided are excellent: The Minute Men and their duck-hunting rifles, picking off British troops withdrawing from Concord; John Stark's men hiding behind hay and stones to stop William Howe's flanking manuever at Breed's Hill; Washington's nine-hour crossing of the Delaware River, ending at 3 AM and his defeat of the Hessians at Trenton when the enemy commander did not bother to read a note of warning from a loyalist; Horatio Gates's victory at Saratoga, when British forces led by John Burgoyne were trapped and attacked from three sides; von Steuben ordering the American soldiers to place kitchens and latrines at opposite sides of their camps; Washington begging his troops to stay for six more weeks for ten dollars in hard money in the winter of 1776; sentries at Valley Forge standing barefoot inside their hats in December 1777.
This book not only fascinated me by providing such details, but also answered a lot of the questions I had about the war for independence, and what led up to it: What was the Stamp Act? How did groups of farmers and tradesmen defeat the British Empire? What tactics did Washington and his generals employ to defeat tens of thousands of British and Hessian troops? What role did the French play? What exactly did Sam Adams and others do to move us towards independence? How many people were loyalists and what part did they play in the events? This book answered all of these questions, and more. The only real problem I had with the book was that the fighting in the South was not covered adequately, I believe, along with leaders like Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter.
The heroes are heroic (especially Washington), and deservedly so, but we also read about their less-than-admirable qualities. There is also the factor of the mistakes made by opponents. The author does not devote much attention to social, economic, racial, and legal trends and effects. That is not his purpose. A good, little book to read on these matters is The American Revolution: A History by Gordon S. Wood.
Patriots by A. J. Langguth is an excellent, journalistic account (mainly chronological) of this period in American history. I am recommending it because it brings the leaders and events that founded our country to life, in a clear and interesting way.
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on May 18, 1996
This immensely interesting book probes not just one patriot's
story, but follows the entire development of the Revolution
from the initial search and seizure trials through the end of the
war. Names we associate with currency and county names are
given breath and life, warts and all. You learn how Samuel
Adams manipulated events in his local paper to make a minor skirmish
in Boston the infamous Boston Massacre. You also learn about
Ben Franklin's relatively late start in spearheading the
independence movement and what a youngster Thomas Jefferson
was considered by the Continental Congress. If you idolize
these great men and their acts of heroism and think they
spoke only for Barlett's Book of Quotations, you will be surprised
how human they actually were. The author has a wonderful
way of making these characters as alive and fresh as the
newest Grisham novel. If you're a history buff of any
magnitude, do yourself a favor and check this out.
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on January 15, 2002
A few years ago, I found myself feeling stupid because I didn't really know anything about the American Revolution, despite what I was taught in school. I wanted to learn what happened. So I tried reading some books about the period, but found that I couldn't get through them -- they were simply too dull and boring, focusing mostly on events and dates. I realized that what I wanted to know most about were the people who were involved in the Revolution -- Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Revere, etc. What were these men like? What role did they actually play in the revolution? How did they interact?
This is the book I was looking for all along. I stumbled across it, decided to give it a shot, and never looked back. It focuses on people, rather than events, but in doing so it still gives you a very good understanding of what happened and why -- a far better understanding than I got from the event-driven histories I had tried to read before. And not only did it give me the information I wanted, but it did so in an exciting and compelling way. Langguth's writing really takes you into the scene, making the events come alive. I found it a thrilling read, a book that I didn't want to end.
If you're like me -- you want to know more about our country's beginning, but you don't want to wade through a didactic history tome -- this is the book for you.
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