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The American Revolution: Revised Edition Revised Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0809025626
ISBN-10: 0809025620
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Fine, concise history . . . Better than any comparable treatment. (Sean Wilentz, In These Times)

As a synthesis of modern scholarship on the Revolution, this important book has no rival. (Pauline Maier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

About the Author

Edward Countryman, professor of history at Southern Methodist University, is the author of Americans (Hill and Wang, 1996) and A People in Revolution: Political Society in New York, 1760-1790, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize in 1982. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809025620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809025626
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Countryman's central thesis in this book is that there was no one universal aspect about the people, the politics, or the process of the American Revolution. Whereas earlier historians had tried to reduce the Revolution to, variously, its leaders, its framers, its people, its rich, or its poor using universal sentiments or examples to define all, Countryman sets out by embracing the diversity and difference of motives and experiences during the Revolution. Whereas previous historians had single issues in mind when writing their books, Countryman encompasses the entire "grand transformation" without slighting, or skipping the interests of a particular group of people. He can do this because he does not attempt to speak for any one group, or define the entire set of changes from the point of view of one group. His simplicity and brevity make his eloquence and it is this beauty which embraces the past of many different groups while acknowledging the inadequacy-in human terms-of its reach. His attitude towards the past is one we should have towards our present and our future as Americans: an attitude of acceptance of the diversity around us and recognition of our inability to embrace it all.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Yang Shao-yun on February 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Contrary to Mr Randolph's and Marina's opinions, I found this book to be well-written and very readable - and I'm in fact reading it for my first course in the history of the Revolution, although it wasn't recommended by the lecturer!
Certainly the book doesn't contain as much new research as some scholars would expect, and is instead a synthesis of previous work on different aspects of the period (as Countryman's Acknowledgements and Bibliographical Essay suggest). That includes his own research on New York that won the Bancroft Prize in 1982.
If you're uncomfortable with the lack of footnotes, Countryman isn't the only one to do this. John Fairbank did the same with some of his books on China (but of course you'll reply that Fairbank was a giant in his field). In any case, most of Countryman's facts can be verified by referring to earlier works in this field. His assertion about pre-marital pregnancies was borrowed from Robert Gross' "The Minutemen and their world", where the proper statistics are included in detail.
If you find jumps in chronology and unconventional details distracting, that would rule out much of the fine historical writing of the last 40 years, wouldn't it? Countryman was aiming for a thematic, rather than purely narrative, history of the Revolution, and military history was secondary to his argument - hence the sparse attention paid to it. Personally, I'm glad I got this book as it's a lively and stimulating read for anyone new to the subject - unless you love reading footnotes, that is.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Calandro on July 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
The American Revolution as a large mob. I've never thought of it that way before. Though, as Countryman argues, very convincingly, that mob was highly organized and had the cause and will to fight their British cousins. Countryman provides a very good argument that the founding fathers were simply using the mobs of urban and rural areas to create a new nation. Now while this is not his entire thesis it proves to be interesting.

The author also makes sure to point out the current political, economic and social climate during the period after the French and Indian/Seven Years' War. I found the social elements to be the most intriguing as Countryman tells the story Americans came to despise any form of British culture or entertainment, especially the theater. Which makes a great deal of sense since the greatest playwright of all time was English.

In general, Countryman provides a great overview as to the causes, military campaigns and aftermath of the American Revolution. There are indeed no footnotes; however this should not trouble the reader as this is a short abstract overview of the entire American Revolution. If one is looking for footnotes and citations be prepared to tackle the much larger work (I recommend Middlekauff's excellent "The Glorious Cause").

Ultimately, the American Revolution is nicely summed up by John Adams when he stated that: One-third was for it, one-third was against and one-third didn't care either way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ryan L. Wagner on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this historical narrative of the American Revolution, Edward Countryman explores multiple facets of British Colonial America, from social and economic issues to legislation and geographical statistics. The American Revolution serves as a synthesis of current scholarship on the Revolution and argues that the events of American independence were as much about internal conflict and change as about independence for Britain. (xiii)

Edward Countryman is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Southern Methodist University and has written extensively about 18th century America and awarded the Bancroft Prize in 1982 for The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1760-1790. At the time of publishing, very few works on the social aspects of the American Revolution had been seen and Countryman has contributed a substantial amount to this subfield of United States history.

Countryman brings his concepts together in this work, skipping over the details of bloody battles and tells the stories of the men that fought them. Exploring rural and urban communities, socially, very little is not covered. Mob mentality is explained fully and how it affected 18th century legislation and public opinion. He makes claims that, with the help of individuals like Thomas Paine and his work Common Sense, the mob is actually what shifted public opinion to support organizations such as the Sons of Liberty and eventually the Continental Congress and military campaigns. The American Revolution is written in an easy to follow, chronological manner geared to academia and greater readership offering both detailed statistical information and class analysis.

In previous works, the successful founding of the United States has typically been credited to the founders.
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