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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (Oxford History of the United States) Reprint Edition

4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195035759
ISBN-10: 0195035755
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Many histories of the American Revolution are written as if on stained glass, with George Washington's forces of good battling King George III's redcoat devils. The actual events were, of course, far more complex than that, and Robert Middlekauff undertakes the difficult task of separating the real from the mythic with great success. From him we learn that England taxed the colonials so heavily in an attempt to retire the massive debt incurred in defending those very colonials against other powers, notably France; that the writing of the Constitution was delayed for two years while states argued among themselves in the face of massive military losses; and that demographic shifts during the Revolution did much to increase America's ethic diversity at an early and decisive time. Vividly told, this is a superb account of the nation's founding.


"By far the best overview of the causes, events, and immediate results of the American Revolution available."--Frank T. Reuter, Texas Christian University


Product Details

  • Series: Oxford History of the United States
  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (February 7, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195035755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195035759
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.5 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Middlekauff is Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. The winner of a Bancroft Prize for The Mathers, he was Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University and also served as Director of the Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The inaugural volume of the highly honored but still unfinished "Oxford History Of The United States" series is "The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789," a superbly written, scholarly, and highly literate account of the America's War for Independence. Written by Robert L. Middlekauff, Professor of History... this is the finest account of the Revolutionary War I've found to date... even better than Benson Bobrick's "Angel in the Whirlwind," which I've already reviewed.

"The Glorious Cause" is a comprehensive account of the American Revolution designed to give readers a well rounded overview of not only the causes of the war, but also of how the war was fought. The book succeeds admirably at its task. After finishing "The Glorious Cause," I felt a much greater appreciation for the men and women whose struggle for freedom brought forth on the North American continent a new and independent nation - the United States of America.

"The Glorious Cause" begins by examining the causes of the American Revolution. In one of the book's earliest chapters, entitled "The Children of the Twice Born," Middlekauff carefully lays out his closely reasoned and well argued thesis: that the seeds of revolution were planted long before the war was actually fought. Those seeds, embodied in the economic, social, political, and religious fabric of American society, made the evolution to democracy on the North American continent almost inevitable.

The earliest settlers came to the New World because of their disenchantment with authoritarian English laws and what they viewed as centralized, overly ritualistic, dogmatic Anglican religion.
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Format: Paperback
Middlekauff has read deeply in the history of the American revolution and the early republic. Moreover, he is interested in more than just a simple narrative; he is interested in causes and motives, as he shows in chaps. 20 and 21 of this book, which discusses why soldiers fought instead of ran.
Unfortunately, the narrative in this book has holes, and Middlekauff often fails to put people and personalities into context, making the reading less interesting than it should be. He also makes high demands on readers' attention; this, plus the holes, made the book heavy going at times.
Here are some examples of holes: 1) In his discussion of the Intolerable Acts, Middlekauff fails to say what the Quebec Act was, yet on pp. 239 and 280 he assumes you know. 2) 471: "They all knew what happened to Buford's men at Waxhaws when they tried to run away." This is the only time "Buford" and "Waxhaws" are mentioned in the book. 3) 340: "June also brought William Howe back to New York." I can't find where it says Howe had been in New York before. 4) 462: "Some hint of what was coming was given ...when the victors, shouting 'Tarleton's Quarter,' shot and stabbed the wounded..." There is no explanation of this anywhere in the book. 478: "... Lee's Legion rode in. Greene once more had his army in one piece." This is the first time that "Lee's Legion" is mentioned. I had to look in the index to find out that "Lee" was Henry Lee. It never explains how he got a legion. The last time we saw him, on 417, he was foraging in Delaware.
No context for people and personalities: Isaac Barre gives a speech supporting the colonies in parliament (74-75), but Middlekauf never tells us who he is or why he speaks so strongly.
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Format: Paperback
The Glorious Cause is comprehensive and complete, extremely ambitious in its scope. It is painstakingly footnoted, documenting a wealth of sources of both primary and secondary research. It is a military history as well as a political history, and wanders into social commentary as well. Middlekauff does a masterful job of explaining how pivotal the French and Indian War was in American History as it forced England to re-examine her relationship to her American colonies. Prior to that war the colonies had not provided England with the wealth that imperial nations desire from their colonies, but they had not really cost her anything either. But that war caused England to realize that money would have to be spent to defend her stronghold in the New World if she intended to keep it. That looked to be an expensive proposition, making it necessary to find a way to make the colonies produce revenue to offset the expense. Attempts at taxation without representation, a fundamental right of Englishmen, caused colonists to examine their status as citizens of their mother country, leading them to decide that they were not Englishmen at all. Middlekauff also gives us a glimpse of heroes of the pre-revolutionary period and shows our "patriots" as radicals and "revolutionaries," a far more accurate depiction of the men who were able to bring about so monumental a change in the course of history. It also shows the human side of the American army, and how Washington wrestled with the fact that many were unwilling to fight. Due to the length of the book and the abundance of detail, it can be tedious.Read more ›
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