The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
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“Wood is the preeminent historian of the Revolution. . . . Here . . . he manages to boil down to its essence this crucial period in the country’s history without in the process reducing it to History Lite. . . . His account of the emergence and development of rank-and-file political opinion is especially provocative and informative, but then so is just about everything else in this remarkable, invaluable book.”—The Washington Post Book World
“An elegant, concise and lucid summary of the Revolution’s origins, the war itself, and the social and political changes wrought by the struggle for American independence.”—The Wall Street Journal
“This slim book tells a big story: one that invites the reader to contemplate the relationships between liberty, power, rights and the unpredictable outcomes of human action.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“An elegant synthesis done by the leading scholar in the field, which nicely integrates the work on the American Revolution over the last three decades but never loses contact with the older, classic questions that we have been arguing about for over two hundred years.”—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers
From the Inside Flap
-Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers
A magnificent account of the revolution in arms and consciousness that gave birth to the American republic.
When Abraham Lincoln sought to define the significance of the United States, he naturally looked back to the American Revolution. He knew that the Revolution not only had legally created the United States, but also had produced all of the great hopes and values of the American people. Our noblest ideals and aspirations-our commitments to freedom, constitutionalism, the well-being of ordinary people, and equality-came out of the Revolutionary era. Lincoln saw as well that the Revolution had convinced Americans that they were a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty. The Revolution, in short, gave birth to whatever sense of nationhood and national purpose Americans have had.
No doubt the story is a dramatic one: Thirteen insignificant colonies three thousand miles from the centers of Western civilization fought off British rule to become, in fewer than three decades, a huge, sprawling, rambunctious republic of nearly four million citizens. But the history of the American Revolution, like the history of the nation as a whole, ought not to be viewed simply as a story of right and wrong from which moral lessons are to be drawn. It is a complicated and at times ironic story that needs to be explained and understood, not blindlycelebrated or condemned. How did this great revolution come about? What was its character? What were its consequences? These are the questions this short history seeks to answer. That it succeeds in such a profound and enthralling way is a tribute to Gordon Wood's mastery of his subject, and of the historian's craft.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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I am a lawyer and a student of political science and American history. To me, this book is unrivaled.
This is not a day-by-day account of battles, but an exposition of the social and political factors that brought about the Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the creation of the Constitution. The discussion of the political failures of the Articles of Confederation and the subsequent debate regarding the Constitution is enlightening.
Wood's book is particularly useful for its discussion of the effects of the war: on the class structure, slaves, indentured servants and the Indians, monetary inflation, education, governments, and on the role of women. Wood summarizes some surprising trends: For example, he points out that wealth was distributed more unequally after the Revolution even though Americans believed that society was more egalitarian. He also gives us some fascinating details, such as that some women objected to the use of the word "obey" in the vows taken at their weddings in the last quarter of the 18th century.
This is a good overview of the American Revolution, although it is not written in the most exciting style. In addition, there is a good list of other sources of information, with comments about them at the end of the book.