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A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution Paperback – March 25, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0679776420 ISBN-10: 0679776427

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 25, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679776427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679776420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Draper's elegantly written, masterful study overturns many preconceptions about the causes of the American Revolution. Before 1763, he observes, the status quo worked largely in favor of the 13 colonies. The Americans dominated the governors sent to rule over them. British customs agents winked at New England smugglers' flourishing trade, and farmers and merchants prospered. But in 1764-1765, the British imposed unpopular taxes and trade restrictions that, combined with Mother England's attempt to reduce the power of the colonial assemblies, brought separatist fervor to the boiling point. To justify the ensuing power struggle, America's ruling elite developed a revolutionary ideology, couching their self-interest in terms of liberty and inalienable rights. Distinguished historian Draper (A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair) further argues that the British, having allowed themselves to become economically dependent on the colonies, desperately sought to control colonial trade and manufacture. Drawing freely on period pamphlets, letters, petitions, travelogues and assembly minutes, he vividly evokes the populist discontent, intellectual gymnastics and mob violence that led to revolution.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The American Revolution is commonly believed to have been caused by the colonists' desire for independence and liberty. Draper (A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affair, LJ 6/1/91) maintains that the Revolution was really a power struggle spawned by the British system of chartering colonies, which placed fiscal control of public funds with the colonial assemblies. British dependence on American trade and the Colonies' phenomenal population growth only intensified Americans' desire to control their own destiny. Draper quotes heavily from primary sources and sometimes relies totally on colonial writers to make his point without further explanation; this is unfortunate because his style is fairly readable. In the preface, the author notes his intended audience is not the specialist but the interested general reader. However, his revisionist history won't appeal to the public and belongs in academic libraries only.
Grant Alan Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Any history buff (especially Revolutionary War) should pick up this book.
Hulk S
If you are looking for a Stephen Ambrose-style of history, with lots of narrative, then keep on looking, because this book will be far too cerebral for you.
Theodore Draper provides an exceptional study of the factors, both in Great Britain and the colonies, that lead up to the revolution.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By chefdevergue VINE VOICE on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an example of history at its best, in my eyes. Too often, people are tempted to view an event in a vacuum, without examining the causes of the event in question. Beyond that, they more frequently fail to place the event in context with the currents of history.
Certainly nobody can accuse Draper of such a thing. The book begins as the 7-Years War is coming to an end, and controversy rages in Great Britain as to what territories the British are going to claim from France as spoils. This is hardly unusual; conventional history holds that the American Revolution was a direct result of the 7-years War, and efforts by the British government to recoup some of the massive expenditures made during the war. Draper could simply have left it at that, and shown how relations between Britain and the colonies deteriorated over the next decade until the colonist finally revolted.
However, Draper correctly sees that both the controversies of the 1760's and the ultimate revolution in the 1770's are merely symptons of a larger and more severe malady that plagued the British imperial system for nearly a century prior to the American Revolution, namely how the colonies, which were growing more populous and prosperous with each generation, could remain subject to Great Britain. As the colonies grew stronger, how could they be expected to follow dictates of a country that was no longer superior to them in power? He examines the history, as it unfolds from generation to generation, of the balance of power between Britain and its colonies.
Draper does an excellent job of this. To me, this is history at its most magnificent, as the reader sees the forces of history moving through time, with each event or trend influencing successive events and trends.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Zeb on January 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Theodore Draper has taken a new perspective on the American Revolution that I find refreshing. Throughout my american history classes I was force fed the fact that the war was caused by a difference of opinion. That is, the Sons of Liberty and other patriotic organizations were starving for freedom under opressive British rule. In _A_Struggle_for_Power_, Draper relates that the war was faught because of "the power the British wished to exercise over the Americans and the power the Americans wished to exercise over themselves."
Scores of primary sources are quoted, and the information is very developed. It reads well, but the information is not as accesible as _The_Long_Fuse_ by Don Cook. I reccommend both to anyone interested in the political and social causes of the war. If you are looking for the military aspects of the war, pick up a book by Ketchum (excellent).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
In seeking to explicate the causes of the American Revolution, Theodore Draper treads on familiar ground. But instead of simply reworking current explanations of the period preceding war with England, he presents a compelling study of the shifting attitudes - both colonial and British - that drove a fledgling nation to revolution. In this courteous debate with Professor Baylen ("Ideological Origins of the American Revolution"), Draper argues that only by understanding how specific events altered the balance of power between England and her colonies can we hope to assess the significance of the American Revolution. "A Struggle for Power" is in many respects an academic work; it is meticulously researched and annotated, and the tone of the work is lofty and high-minded. Yet through careful inclusion of the words and letters of those who shaped the struggle (on both sides of the Atlantic), Draper presents a narrative that is both intriguing and educational
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on September 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
In my study of revolutions I have always been interested in two basic questions- what were the ideas swirling around prior to the revolution that brought people to see the need for revolution and the related question of how those ideas played out in the struggle for power. I recently reviewed Professor Gordon Wood's Radicalism in the American Revolution that posed the first of this question, that is the influence of ideas about the nature of individual freedom, about the creation of the frame of government and about who should govern. In the present review of Theodore Draper's book this second question is dealt with at length. Although Mr. Draper has many insightful thoughts about the duration and intensity of that struggle against the mother country England one must recognize that this is not one of his major historical works. Draper's major historical work, for which he will be well remembered, lies elsewhere. (In his definitive two-volume study of the Stalinization of the American Communist Party and on Iran/Contra.)

That said, as mentioned above one of the most interesting of Mr. Draper's insights is the rather long period of struggle by elements in the individual colonial governments against the rule (or better, rules since they were not uniformly applied) imposed by England. Previous study had led me to assume that these struggles had a relatively recent origin only a few decades prior to the revolution. What is apparent is that a `cold' dual power situation existed between England and some of the administrations in the colonies for a fairly long time before `hot' dual power occurred with the creation of the Continental Congress and the formation of militias in 1774.
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