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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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Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for History
"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
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.
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What this book does, and does it well, is strip those myths away. This isn't to say that this bashes America, Americans, or any particular group, but it does go to great lengths to show that the Revolution came as a surprise to many, even those who normally could be considered in charge of it. Great Britain was not the tyrannical bad guy as often made out to be, but rather a government who failed to heed what was happening. If anything, what surprised me the most about this book was just how NOT inevitable the Revolution was. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, but many times I was reading and thinking 'If they had just stepped back...' What a difference that would have made to history.
As said, this shows the fledgling country for what it was, disunited, prideful, religious, secular, strong, weak, and with factions that more often than not got in the way of doing what was best for the country instead of helping it, but each convinced that what they were doing WAS the best. Everyone else though... If anything can be taken away from this book, besides a good understanding on just how we got started, it's the lesson that many of the same problems that now beset the United States of America in 2015 that everyone is currently convinced will be the end of us, were more than present in 1776 at the beginning of us. Depending on how you look at it, that could be a good, or a bad, thing.
I'd say the weakest part of the book for me was simply the battles of the war. They weren't poorly written or anything, just not as interesting as the motivations for independence or what happened after the war was won.
And the final chapters on the creation of the Constitution were very good; I only wish they were even more details here, as it is a fascinating time. The Articles of Confederation are covered, but not in any great detail, but well enough to understand their failures.
All in all, an excellent overview of the time. It certainly helped me understand how the Americans valued liberty and freedom and how that differed from what the British conception of Americans was. I would highly recommend it to any one who wishes to know more about the American Revolutionary era.