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Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution Hardcover – April 30, 2013
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Philbrick’s newest work chronicles the cradle of the American Revolution, Boston’s action-packed years of 1773–76. Opening with the consequences of the Boston Tea Party, Philbrick depicts the arrival of British army and naval forces, the manifestation of the royal government’s intention to quash the burgeoning rebellion in Massachusetts. Its leaders, patriots like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren, provide the drama’s counterpoise to British officials. Having deployed his characters, Philbrick launches each side’s resort to military preparations and operations, a narrative that benefits from one of the author’s several imaginative services to readers, detailing in word and map the geography of Boston and environs at that time. Another audience benefit is Philbrick’s evocation of the look of patriot militias and British regiments, which enliven his crackling accounts of military movements that produced the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Displaying, as in Mayflower (2006) and The Last Stand (2010), a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs. --Gilbert Taylor
“Masterly… Philbrick tells the complex story superbly.”
—Wall Street Journal
“A masterpiece of narrative and perspective…”—Boston Globe
“You will delight in the story and the multitude of details Philbrick offers up.”—USA Today
“Riveting, fast-paced account…”—Los Angeles Times
“Lively…Philbrick, guides us beautifully through Revolutionary Boston…”
—New York Times Book Review
“Philbrick writes with freshness and clarity…”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“This is popular history at its best: a taut narrative with a novelist’s touch, grounded in careful research.”—Miami Herald
“Philbrick … has a flair for using primary sources to create scenes that sweep readers into the thick of history…BUNKER HILL is a tour de force, creating as vivid a picture as we are likely to get of the first engagements of the American Revolution…Philbrick is a gifted researcher and storyteller…”—Chicago Tribune
“Philbrick…offers…surprising revelations and others in BUNKER HILL, a comprehensive and absorbing account of a battle…Extraordinary events produce extraordinary individuals, and Philbrick’s portrayals are remarkably penetrating and vivid…Given the scale of the story, Philbrick, confirming his standing as one of America’s pre-eminent historians, somehow manages to address all the essential components in a concise, readable style”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Like a masterly chronicler, [Philbrick] has produced a tightly focused and richly detailed narrative that just happens to resonate with leadership lessons for all times….Philbrick is at his most vivid in conveying scenes of battle, both on the road between Boston and Concord and on the ridges of Bunker Hill. But what adds depth to the narrative is his fine sense of the ambitions that drive people in war and politics.”
“Another fine history from Nathaniel Philbrick…”—The Economist
“Though you know the ending, you whip through the pages…”—Entertainment Weekly
“Quite masterfully, Philbrick does not sink to simply good and evil distinctions in the run-up to Bunker Hill. The author reminds us that the freedoms colonists wanted were never intended to apply to blacks, American Indians or women. This was a messy time when decisions were sometimes dictated by ambition instead of some nobler trait.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“[Philbrick] captures the drama—martial and emotional—of the months before and after this legendary clash.”—The New Yorker
“Philbrick spices his text with first-person accounts from many participants in the drama, including patriots, loyalists, generals, privates, spies, even the victim of a tar-and-feathering. This is easy-reading history, uncluttered by footnotes and assisted by some excellent maps.”—Seattle Times
“Fascinating….No one can tell you about the history you thought you knew quite like Philbrick…”
—Cape Cod Times
“Philbrick … will be a candidate for another award with this ingenious, bottom-up look at Boston from the time of the December 1773 Tea Party to the iconic June 1775 battle….A rewarding approach to a well-worn subject, rich in anecdotes, opinion, bloodshed and Byzantine political maneuvering.”—Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Exhaustively researched, intelligent, and engaging narrative with a sophisticated approach. Collections … should certainly acquire this….”—Library Journal
“Philbrick tells his tale in traditional fashion—briskly, colorfully, and with immediacy….no one has told this tale better.”—Publishers Weekly
“Crackling accounts of military movements…a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs.”—Booklist
“Philbrick shows us historic figures, not only as if they had stepped away from their famous portraits, but as if we had read about them in last week’s newspaper…Philbrick has developed a style that connects the power of narrative to decisive moments in American history.” —Nantucket Today
“A compelling, balanced and fresh narrative.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Philbrick’s research is phenomenal …I suggest you pick up this enjoyable read.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“You’ll never have history told like this in school. If it were, you might find more kids interested in it.” —The State Journal-Register
“A gripping, suspense-driven recounting of the battles of Bunker and Breed’s Hill…I couldn’t put this book down with its seductive, detail-sharpened, heart-stopping narrative made all the more human by the people involved…powerful, eloquent, infinitely compelling, and just plain awesome.” —Providence Journal
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I found the author bringing out the personalities of those involved to be very well done with the hero, if there is to be one, to be Dr. Joseph Warren who was killed in the battle. Author Philbrick states that had Warren not been killed American history may very well have been quite different because the name George Washington may only have been a footnote in history and best known for his role in the French and Indian War. People generally are familiar with George Washington, Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and John Hancock but Author Philbrick also brings out the personalities of General Thomas Gage, Nathanael Greene, Henry "Ox" Knox, and minister Mather Byles among others. Byles is an interesting character and when asked how he could be a "brainless Tory", Byles answered by saying, "Tell me, which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant 3,000 miles away, or by 3,000 tyrants not a mile away?" He called the soldier who was ordered to guard him as his "observe-a-tory."
I enjoy reading about American history, but I did find the book to be more detailed for my taste. If your background is better than mine this should not be a problem for you. Since it was a little more descriptive than I would have liked I will rate it four stars.
The book itself considers the various actions leading to an army of militiamen to surround British forces in Boston. The French and Indian War is discussed (quite a few Yankee leaders had had combat experience then). So, too, laws passed by Great Britain to pay for the debt incurred by British forces in that war--leading to anger in the colonies, as they were taxed without representation. Incidents such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party inflamed passions all around--patriots, loyalist, and Great Britain. The conflicts between militia and Redcoats at Lexington and Concord led to an army of militia focusing on Boston.
The book also spends considerable time outlining the key characters of the drama. On the British side, former Governor Hutchinson, Generals Thomas Gage, William Howe, and Henry Clinton were key players in the building of the drama culminating in Bunker Hill. On the patriot side, well known figures such as Sam Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock are discussed, So, too, a less well know figure, Joseph Warren. With the other three off at the Continental Congress, Warren played a leading role in organizing the patriots. Then, a much less wll known figure, a rabblerouser and trouble maker, who went by the nom de guerre of Joyce Junior. In fact, he was a part of one of the colony's most eminent families.
After Bunker Hill, new figures became important--George Washington, taking command of the besieging forces at Boston, Henry Knox, who helped create an artillery arm for the army, and so on. The book does a nice job of describing the siege, Washington's battle within himself, the dramatic capture of Dorchester Heights, and the subsequent withdrawal of British forces from Boston.
A wonderful resource for understanding the events and players leading up to the battle at Bunker Hill and what followed from that sanguinary event.