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The American Revolution: A Concise History [Hardcover]

Robert Allison
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 14, 2011 0195312953 978-0195312959 1
Here is a brisk, accessible, and vivid introduction to arguably the most important event in the history of the United States--the American Revolution.

Between 1760 and 1800, the American people cast off British rule to create a new nation and a radically new form of government based on the idea that people have the right to govern themselves. In this lively account, Robert Allison provides a cohesive synthesis of the military, diplomatic, political, social, and intellectual aspects of the Revolution, paying special attention to the Revolution's causes and consequences. The book recreates the tumultuous events of the 1760s and 1770s that led to revolution, such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, as well as the role the Sons of Liberty played in turning resistance into full-scale revolt. Allison explains how and why Americans changed their ideas of government and society so profoundly in these years and how the War for Independence was fought and won. He highlights the major battles and commanders on both sides--with a particular focus on George Washington and the extraordinary strategies he developed to defeat Britain's superior forces--as well as the impact of French military support on the American cause. In the final chapter, Allison explores the aftermath of the American Revolution: how the newly independent states created governments based on the principles for which they had fought, and how those principles challenged their own institutions, such as slavery, in the new republic. He considers as well the Revolution's legacy, the many ways its essential ideals influenced other struggles against oppressive power or colonial systems in France, Latin America, and Asia.

Sharply written and highly readable, The American Revolution offers the perfect introduction to this seminal event in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In a “concise” history of a seminal episode, there is always the danger of a narrative that is a mile wide and an inch thick. Allison, professor of history at Suffolk University, generally avoids this pitfall by effectively concentrating on the major issues and events of the American Revolution. In describing the political context of the British Empire in the 1760s, he wisely indicates how peripheral the 13 colonies along the Atlantic seaboard were to colonial officials in London; their attention was focused on the sugar islands of the West Indies and on India. As tensions rose, Allison illustrates the legitimate concerns of both sides.The military struggle cannot be covered in detail, but he covers the major campaigns and makes a strong case to show that the underrated strategic brilliance of Washington was vital to American success. This highly readable account is ideal for general readers and can also be utilized for college survey courses in U.S. history. --Jay Freeman


"[Authors] have produced centuries of works on this subject, but non of the comprehensive descriptions are as surprisingly crisp as Robert J. Allison's version...Allison's organization of the book is excellent...Only outdone by his excellent organization is Allison's experience with this subject, which is qualitively displayed throughout the book...Allison is an effect writer, and has produced a summary that captures most prevailing historical accounts in good form." --Army History

"Robert Allison's volume serves as an ideal introduction to the American Revolution. All the central events and participants come alive in this brisk narrative that illuminates the origins and meaning of the War for Independence."-Louis P. Masur, Trinity College

"Anyone looking for a compact, highly conceptualized, readable history of the American Revolution and its aftermath needs to look no further than The American Revolution: A Concise History. I would never have imagined that so big a picture could be conveyed in so few words, but Bob Allison has done it. That he has accomplished this feat without losing the voices and the character of individual people is an amazement indeed. A fine book."-Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder

"This highly readable account is ideal for general readers and can also be utilized for college survey courses in U.S. history." - Booklist

"A scholar has to master a lot of material to present it so concisely and authoritatively, and Allison's book is one of the best places to get a reliable introduction to the Revolution and the Constitution." -Thomas S. Kidd, Books and Culture

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195312953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195312959
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert J. Allison is chairman of the history department of Suffolk University in Boston and teaches courses in American Constitutional history and the history of Boston at Harvard Extension School. His books include The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776-1815 (2000); A Short History of Boston (2004); Stephen Decatur, American Naval Hero (2005); The Boston Massacre (2006); and The Boston Tea Party (2007). He was a consultant to the Commonwealth Museum at the State Archives in Boston, and he is on the board of overseers of the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He is vice president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and president of the South Boston Historical Society. He lives in South Boston and summers in Provincetown on Cape Cod. His newest book, A Short History of Cape Cod, is published by Commonwealth Editions.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short Introduction to the American Revolution October 1, 2011
The American Revolution and the Civil War remain the definitive events of United States history. Students can, and have, spent lifetimes trying to understand one or the other. In an attempt to provide brief introductions or refreshers for busy people, Oxford University Press has published "concise" histories of both the Civil War and the American Revolution, with each volume consisting of about 100 pages. Louis Masur of Trinity College wrote the volume on the Civil War,The Civil War: A Concise History while Robert Allison, Professor of History at Suffolk University, is the author of the book I am reviewing here, "The American Revolution: A Concise History" (2011). It is worth reading both books for a quick reminder of the seminal events which made the United States.

Allison's book consists of 94 pages of text together with an excellent, detailed chronology of "Important Dates in the American Revolution" from 1754 -- 1826" and a good basic bibliography for further reading. In terms of time covered, the scope of this book is longer than the Civil War and probably more varied. The book begins with the founding of the colonies and the differences among them, Britain's initial neglect of the 13 Atlantic colonies in favor of the colonies in the Carribean or India, followed by the French-Indian War and Britain's attempt to tax the colonies and play a somewhat larger role in their affairs. This is followed by an account of the rebellion, the decision for independence, and the Revolutionary War. Subsequent chapters cover the Constitutional convention and touch upon the presidencies of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Americn History April 1, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Three cheers for Robert Allison, he has given us a great small book on a big subject.
A fine introduction for anyone that is beginning reading about our revolution against
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal recap of the Revolution April 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those of us who forgot our basic American history -- or were paying insufficient attention -- this book is a perfect little solution. It concisely and clearly recaps the highlights not just of the main events but of some of the key ideas that drive the American revolution. Nice job.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recent Review April 3, 2011
per Edward Achorn, "Feeling Patriotic? Reading material for the children of rebels" in The Weekly Standard: One of the great achievements of the colonists was, thus, sharing information and getting news and opinion into print about British attempts to erode their liberty and impose taxes on them without representation. By 1766, Sons of Liberty groups throughout the colonies were actively fighting the tax on documents, known as the Stamp Act, to the point that customs agent John Robinson reported that tax officials felt the fury "not of a trifling Mob, but of a whole Country." In London, Benjamin Franklin warned that British attempts to force the Americans into compliance would be disastrous: "They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one," he observed shrewdly. When the British actually did send troops to Boston, Franklin warned that the act was as foolish as "setting up a smith's forge in a magazine of gunpowder." For a time, British oppression seemed to work. "If it were not for an Adams or two, we should do well enough," declared Thomas Hutchinson, the royal governor of Massachusetts. But those pesky Adamses, Samuel and John, refused to leave their ostensible masters alone, rallying Americans to defend their liberty, as the British ratcheted up the pressure. The Adamses well understood how to move public opinion by keeping on message while resisting the temptation to imitate the worst abuses of their adversaries. "Put your enemy in the wrong, and keep him so, is a wise maxim in politics as well as in war," Samuel Adams advised. And soon after the first shots rang out, another powerful voice entered the fray, through a pamphlet entitled Common Sense. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars WOW - very well written June 28, 2014
I would hope most people would read this, if for no other reason than to understand that the American Revolution was far too complex and richly nuanced as to allow the creation of any accurate Morality Plays. While missing key areas [what history does not, after all], it's great for what it is.
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