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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (Oxford History of the United States) Paperback – March 9, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford History of the United States
  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Rev Exp edition (March 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019531588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195315882
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 2.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is narrative history at its best, written in a conversational and engaging style.... A major revision and expansion of a popular history of the American Revolutionary period."--Library Journal

"A tour de force. Middlekauff has the admirable ability to capture historical truths in vivid images and memorable phrases.... Middlekauff's empathy enhances this massive book's cumulative power. The cause was glorious; the book is too."--Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

"The reader in search of a wide-ranging overview of the Revolution would be better off turning to any number of earlier books (from Trevelyan's classic 'American Revolution' to more recent works like 'The Glorious Cause' by Robert Middlekauff)."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, in a review of 1776

Acclaim for the First Edition:
"One of the best one-volume accounts of the Revolutionary war."--The New York Times

"A striking success. Middlekauff is both elegant and eloquent. Whether he is describing the making of British policy, or sketching the character of Washington or Pitt, or explaining why Daniel Morgan positioned the American troops at Hannah's Cowpens so retreat would be impossible, he does in a few paragraphs or pages what others might struggle through a chapter to get right."--The New Republic

"A first-class narrative history. There is probably no history of the Revolution that better combines a full account of the military course of the war with consideration of all the other forces shaping the era." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Middlekauff's energy and clarity often make us read as eagerly as if we did not know how this struggle will come out."--The New Yorker

"Writing with a grace and clarity that recall Samuel Eliot Morison, Middlekauff gives us classic entry into the critical period of American history." --The Los Angeles Times

"His narrative account goes along at a fast pace. He moves with agility from profound political and philosophical disputes of the period to the scenes of battle and the problems of military strategy. A welcome addition to the history of the Revolution." --The Washington Post Book World

"First-rate narrative history--one can hardly imagine a better one-volume introduction to the period. Graced with plentiful illustrations, gracefully written and long enough (at nearly 700 pages) to afford ample attention to detail, this book is highly recommended to the general reader." --Newsday

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

The book is well worth reading, just be prepared for a lot of details.
You could say that's bad writing or just bad editing but it's in the book 23 years later and after he went to the trouble to revise it.
I would highly recommend this book for those who want to understand the American Revolution.
Lehigh History Student

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Scott Stratton on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
After hearing the Schoolhouse Rock favorite, "The Shot Heard Round the World" about 500 times on a trip recently (I have young kids), I just had to get a good book on the American Revolution. I chose this book, the first in the Oxford History of America Series, "The Glorious Cause" by Robert Middlekauff from several at my local bookstore (don't worry Amazon, I buy a lot of books from you, too). I chose it in large part because the publisher was Oxford, who generally puts out great books and series. Overall, the book did not disappoint, but it was not quite as good as the dust jacket led me to believe.

First, the good: the language and flow is excellent. In the sense of just sitting back and reading - it's a good one. The vocabulary level is pretty high, but you won't need to reach for the dictionary often. The book seems incredibly-well researched. It was clear that Middlekauff is VERY well read on this subject and period, and the footnoting is well-done. I really like being able to follow up on the sources he used and he is generous and thorough in sharing them. Also, he spends a lot of time on the events leading up to the war. Although one reviewer feels that four chapters on the Stamp Act is too much, it actually almost wasn't enough for me! I say that because if you believe what Middlekauf first states (and seems to be true from other readings), that the American people had NO desire to secede from Britain early on, then you must wonder how they got so quickly (relatively speaking) to a course of action as radical as a fight for independence! So I believe the time spent on that period is critical and interesting. The details of the battles are excellent, and generally, any material he provides is thoughtful and interesting.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Eric Bowien VINE VOICE on July 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To get a little background out of the way first, let me state that the highest credentials I possess in historical studies are a minor in History and a love of the genre. I read books very quickly and usually read three to five at a time. This book took me over three weeks and was the only one I could read during that time. It is an absolute slog. If you plan on reading this book, be sure to keep a notebook from the beginning so you can keep up with the various characters and locations, because keeping a thread going throughout the book is definitely not one of Middlekauff's strong suits.

Now for the actual review. Because the cover says "The American Revolution," I mistakenly geared myself up to read about that. This is not a shortcoming of the author, but a misstep on my part. Let me just tell you before you begin that the first shot is not fired until page 276. For a huge part of the first fourth of the book, Middlekauff describes local politics in the colonies. I do not wish to criticize the choice of subjects, because some of it is very interesting, but be prepared for pages and pages of description of two feuding families in Rhode Island's early political scene.

Finally, once battle begins, the book moves along fairly quickly. This (I think of it as the middle portion, but that is not based on physical distance in the book) was my personal favorite part. The only drawback is an odd disconnect as he repeatedly breaks from battle in America to go back and give half-hearted attempts to explain the politicking in England at the time.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hawkinson VINE VOICE on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book on the Revolution, or The Glorious Cause. Right from the beginning you get a sense of what Middlekauff is attempting to portray as he describes in detail the major factors that led to the Declaration: debt from the Seven Years War and the taxes that were meant to help recoup that debt. His recursive style - of starting a new chapter by backtracking in order to fill the gaps that are needed in order get back to the timeframe of the previous chapter - is an amazing way to write. I haven't seen much of this style of writing in nonfiction, only in fiction by authors such as Faulkner and Morrison, and it does well in furthering the story along. The additional chapters scattered throughout that explain some of the non war aspects are very helpful and interesting to read.

This is a long read, though, so prepare yourself. It doesn't help that the last 80 or so pages is about the debates at the Constitutional Convention, which is an extremely dry read that should not have been included in the first place. Additionally, there is a focus on the battles fought, so if you prefer not to read about battles than this book would not be for you. All in all, Middlekauff did exactly as he set out to do - even with the Constitutional Convention chapters, since this does fall into the premise of his book - and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the time period. For those who are also interested in the French and Indian War read Anderson's Crucible of War, which is a perfect lead in to the The Glorious Cause.
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