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Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World Hardcover – February 15, 2011
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As well as a war of independence, the Revolutionary War was a civil conflict in which the losers, white, black, and Indian loyalists, paid dearly. Facing retribution from the victorious patriots, tens of thousands fled the new U.S. to havens in the British Empire. Jasanoff positions her history as the most comprehensive treatment of this topic; accomplished as scholarship, it appeals to general-interest readers through her narrative accounts of several refugees� fates after mass evacuations in 1783. And it will strongly appeal to black-history readers because of Jasanoff�s sifting of abundant documentary evidence generated by Britain�s wartime promise to emancipate slaves who fought in its ranks. Free black loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia, where racial tension impelled some to settle in Sierra Leone, while enslaved black loyalists suffered even harsher consequences, their white loyalist owners forcing them to relocate to Florida, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. Wherever loyalists started their lives anew�in Britain, Canada, India, and even Australia�Jasanoff dramatizes their travails in this discerning social and political history of an overlooked side of the American Revolution. --Gilbert Taylor
"A smart, deeply researched and elegantly written history." —New York Times Book Review
"Spirited and engaging…[Jasanoff] has turned her remarkable historical talents to the experiences of the tens of thousands of loyalists who felt compelled to leave the North American colonies that became the United States…One of the strengths of her deeply researched book is the extent to which she was able to recover the stories of some of these loyalist refugees." —Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books
"A masterful account of the dispersal of the loyalists…Jasanoff’s notable achievement is to engage the reader’s interest, and sympathies, in the travails of the Revolution’s losers. It will be thoroughly rewarding, even for the reader already familiar with the fates of the winners." —The Boston Globe
"Ambitious, empathetic and sometimes lyrical...Liberty's Exiles just claims to be the 'first global history of the loyalist diaspora'...Jasanoff skillfully threads the stories of individual loyalists through her narrative as she beautifully describes, one by one, the often inhospitable places they went." —The Washington Post
"[There are] many revelations in this very well-researched and fluently written book…Jasanoff has written [the loyalists] a fitting tribute." —Andrew Roberts, The Daily Beast
"Engagingly written. . .with a genuine breadth of geographical vision, Jasanoff deftly sketches the challenges loyalists encountered." — Claremont Review of Books
"A fascinating, important and beautifully written investigation that ought to be required reading for anyone who thinks America's founding was an unambiguous instance of liberty and justice throwing off the shackles of tyranny and oppression." —The Seattle Times
"A relatively neglected subject, now handsomely addressed by Maya Jasanoff. [Her] ability to blend structural analysis with engrossing accounts of personal experience makes Liberty’s Exiles a highly readable book as well as an informative one." —The Wall Street Journal
"Jasanoff's book is history at its best." —Richmond-Times Dispatch
"You have GOT to buy this book." —DennisMansfield.com
"[A] vivid, superbly researched, and highly intelligent book...employ[ed] with terrific panache." —Linda Colley, The Guardian (UK)
"Brilliant, seminal work." —Dallas Morning News
"Smart and gracefully written...Liberty's Exiles tells a complex and original story of the loyalists. It is a history worth knowing." —The Wilson Quarterly
"Jasanoff moves artfully from larger global issues to individual stories of people who documented the turmoil...Splendidly researched, sensibly argued and compassionately told." —Austin American Statesman
"Losers seldom get to write the history, but the American loyalists have at last got their historian with Maya Jasanoff. This is not just the story of their poignant and often tragic fate during the war for independence, but also the story of the loyalist diaspora, the experience of 60,000 men and women, black and white, as they spread into Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, and India. No one has told this story before, and Jasanoff tells it with uncommon style and grace." —Joseph J. Ellis
"The days are long gone when American history was written not only by the victors but also about them. Yet we have had to wait too long for a history of the Loyalists who fought against the American Revolution, and lost. Maya Jasanoff has done more than merely rescue them from the condescension of posterity. She has made them live on the page. I can think of few books published in the past thirty years that shed more brilliant and revelatory light on the events of the revolutionary era than Liberty’s Exiles. It is more than just a work of first-class scholarship on a par with Linda Colley’s Britons. It is a deeply moving masterpiece that fulfils the historian’s most challenging ambition: to revivify past experience." —Niall Ferguson
"Liberty's Exiles is a book which in scope and originality, global reach and research, intellectual curiosity and sheer provocative panache-- upturning in its wake whole applecarts of unchallenged assumptions-- can sustain comparison with Linda Colley or the young Simon Schama. The truth is that Maya Jasanoff is not just a very good writer, an indefatigable researcher and a fine historian, she is also a bit of a genius." —William Dalrymple
"Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles places the loyalist experience and the aftermath of the American Revolution in an entirely new light. Alongside the Spirit of 1776, Jasanoff gives us the Spirit of 1783, dedicated to remaking the mighty British Empire, and then offers a stunning reinterpretation of the Loyalists' complicated role in that remaking. Her meticulously researched and superbly written account is historical revision at its finest, and it affirms her place as one of the very finest historians of the rising generation." —Sean Wilentz
"A masterful account of the struggles, heartbreak, and determination that characterized specific Loyalist families and individuals. . . [A] superb study of a little known episode in American and British history." —PW (starred)
“Jasanoff moves artfully from larger global issues to individual stories documenting the turmoil…Splendidly researched, sensibly argued, and compassionately told." —Kirkus (starred)
“[E]xhaustively researched and very well written. . . . [Jasonoff} skillfully weav[es] into her work the stories of individual loyalists, British officials, and others. She is as good at close-in, detailed narrative as she is at detached, balanced analysis of the forces at work. Liberty's Exiles—which provides, she notes, ‘the first global history of the loyalist diaspora’—belongs on the short shelf of indispensable books about the American Revolution's losers.” —Commonweal
Top customer reviews
I'd like to give just one example of the kind of connection this book helped me to make. I was familiar with the Jacboite Rebellion in England (Bonny Prince Charlie). I had never thought about the fact that there were colonists in America who gone there after choosing the wrong side in that conflict who then faced making a similar choice between the crown and the colonies here. Many of these families lost everything twice.
If nothing else, this book will give a new perspective on the American Revolution and the shape of "The Atlantic World."
1. The subject matter long deserved the attentive scholarship given it by Jasanoff, and
2. The author succeeded in illustrating the far-reaching consequences of the lives of loyalist refugees as a diaspora by investigating the many scattered strongholds of loyalist refugees from Sierra Leone to Nova Scotia, and remarking upon the widely varying opinions of those American loyalists who decided to "return" to the country they swore fealty to without ever having been there.