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Seeds of Discontent: The Deep Roots of the American Revolution, 1650-1750 Hardcover – October 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carr (All Brave Sailors), former director of Mystic Seaport, believes the seeds of the American Revolution were first sown in the mid-17th century, when Britain began to exert control over colonies that had mostly been left to tend and fend for themselves. In 1651 the first of the anti–free trade Navigation Acts was introduced, and England began suspending representative legislatures. These and a multitude of slights (real and imagined) bred long-simmering resentments and periodic revolts; a failed rebellion in 1689 was sparked after Massachusetts's charter was revoked. Carr focuses most of his account on the wars between Britain and France, and Britain's postvictory surrender to the French of Louisbourg, on Nova Scotia—which had been taken at great cost in American lives. A century of British disrespect, mismanagement, and exploitation, Carr summarizes, prepared the minds of the colonists for revolution. Carr's exploration of this background to the War of Independence is fascinating, but leaves an important question unanswered: if Britain was so oppressive, then why did a third of Americans remain loyalto the Crown? 25 b&w illus., 3 maps. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Carr (former director, Mystic Seaport; All Brave Sailors) presents a survey of the turmoil that led up to the American Revolution, including Bacon's Rebellion (1676), the Maine campaign of 1688, Queen Anne's War (1702–13), the War of Jenkins's Ear, and King George's War, both of the 1740s, all the while describing situations that demonstrate the growing strife between the emerging "Americans" and the often heavy-handed British officials. Carr is at his best when depicting specifics that colorfully illustrate the growing tension, such as the British practice of impressing sailors and the Casco Bay siege during Queen Anne's War. But the reader is left to wonder why Carr ends the book at 1750 and thus provides only a cursory overview of the French and Indian War, which arguably had the greatest impact on colony-crown relations, and King Philip's War. Despite these flaws, Carr's text provides a decent update to Douglas Edward Leach's Arms for Empire and Roots of Conflict. Recommended only for public libraries.—Matthew J. Wayman, Ciletti Lib., Penn State Schuylkill
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books; 1 edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802715125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802715128
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is marvelous.

As a Canadian, raised in a "loyalist" province settled by Tories who were driven out of the United States after the War of Independence, it's always been a puzzle why rational people would rebel against the King.

This book gave me a much deeper appreciation of America and Canada. First off, I'm convinced those Tories were clueless dunderheads who didn't appreciate mutual respect, freedom and the basic rights of a free people. Second, it gives me a humble appreciation of the courage, character and fortitude of those who settled the American wilderness.

Much of the focus is on Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Isle, the strongest fort in North America. It cost the lives of 1,200 New Englanders in 1745 to capture it; in today's terms of 300 million Americans, that's equivalent to at least 500,000 lives lost within a couple of months. In other words, it was a major American sacrifice for an English war against the French.

After winning the war, the English gave it back to the French "at the stroke of a pen" in 1748 to achieve peace in their time. New Englanders were furious at their sacrifice being so easily thrown away. By 1756 England was again at war with France. So they asked New Englanders, "Remember Louisbourg? It's been greatly reinforced since then. You need to go capture it again for us!"

This time Americans gave the 1756 equivalent of, "Hell, No! We won't go!" So the English had to capture it. When the war ended in 1763, they sent a bill for it to the Thirteen Colonies. New taxes included the Townshend Duties, Tea tax, Sugar tax, Rum tax, Stamp tax, everything but thumb tacks. Instead of 'Common Sense', Thomas Paine might well have written, 'Just How Stupid Do They Think We Are?
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Roy N. Wallace on November 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Rev Carr has provided a written gift for those who appreciate the never ending responsibility of understanding the history of the United States. Indeed, the gift should also appeal to those who are about to become aware of the value of history.

Mr. Carr integrates important developments and trends during the early century and a half that highlight our relationship with Great Britain but also with France and Spain. He reminds us that the actors on both sides of the Atlantic in this historical drama proved courageous, devious, self-serving, idealistic, and just plain ignorant. There are many lessons for today, not just for citizens and politicians, but for governments.

Finally, the book displays Mr. Carr's deep knowledge of the northeastern United States and the Canadian maritimes as well as his dedication to his professional calling involving the sea and ships. It is an enjoyable and rewarding read.

Now, on to Louisbourg with the forces and the siege engines - the third time could be a charm. I did learn from the book that we should wait until the spring.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John K. Crane on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an astounding book, written by the former president of Mystic Seaport. Even though I have a doctorate, I was totally unaware of how much I did not know about post-1607 and pre-1776 America. It is written in fine prose, and it outlines wars I had never heard of (The War of Captain Jenkins' Ear, for example). Familiar figures start to wander into the book's final pages--Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, but the great majority are people I had never heard of--Seth Pomeroy, William Shirley, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, and many others on both sides. The real enemy is the French who are in constant wars both to protect their holdings in Canada and to regain some they once had in what would be the United States. The Americans fought along side the British in this period, but the British felt the Americans were incompetant fighters. Almost all the officers were British, and Britain started imposing duties upon the Americans to protect them. "No Taxation without Representation" became the American rallying cry. This finally resulted in the more famous Boston Tea Party in which Americans dressed as Indians dumped almost the whole of a valuable shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor. But the real value of this book is what the author knows about prior events and people who caused the seeds of discontent that eventually led to the Revolution. Another value is the way Carr shows how the Treaty of Utrect affected Americans. I never knew that the period between 1607 and 1776 was so hostile toward both England and France. Carr ends with the French and Indian War but sets it in context to produce the American Revolution. 1650 to 1750 is a blind spot in American history (what isn't these days?), but SEEDS OF DISCONTENT opens our eyes.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Edward K. on April 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Carr has written what may become a definitive history of a neglected era of our history. The book is extremely well written and based on thorough research. Mr. Carr, through his use of words and language nuances from the era, allows the dialog to make the characters all that much more real. The characters come to life and, one today, can identify with the people of that era as ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things during a difficult time in the building of our nation. Mr. Carr has truly captured the events and the people of that time. We need more books like this concerning the pre-Revolutionary period. This book is a must read for any serious student of American History. BZ to Mr. J. Revell Carr for writing such a delightfully entertaining and informative book. (ITB) E.K. Dalrymple
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