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Showing 1-10 of 12 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 16 reviews
on September 6, 2012
As a New Yorker and Revolutionary War buff who has traveled many of the same metro area paths as Sullivan (and once or twice with him), this book is thumbs up. As are his past books (Rats, Meadowlands, etc), My American Revolution is deeply researched history presented as memoir. Or perhaps the reverse. Through his long walks, and boat rides, over the ground and waterways that George Washington and his men strode in 1776 and after, one is reminded of, or introduced to as the case may be, the layered Revolutionary War history of New York City, and of how, here, that past is mostly forgotten, torn down and paved over. He makes the case for the New York area (roughly what you can see on a clear day from the top of the Empire State Building) as the crux of the American Revolution, where its numerous early battles (and escapes) set the course for victory. Bah Boston, humbug Philadelphia, goodbye Southern Campaign.

Sullivan has a keen eye for characters, eccentrics and otherwise, who he help him on his journeys and move his story along - at Washington's Crossing in Delaware, in the Bronx at a battlefield, in the Watchung Mountains in New Jersey, in Brooklyn and elsewhere. And while it's true that in many ways this book is an elegy for what we have lost, Sullivan does remind us of what is still here - the physical landscape, and other landmarks, plaques and roadside signs that mark historic Tri-state locations. (I wish he'd included maps and I'd beg him to post annotated point by point walking tours).

My American Revolution is a great, engrossing read, an important addition to the growing canon of books that focus on the lesser known Revolutionary history of New York City, which includes Barnet Schecter's wonderful Battle For New York, David McCullough's 1776 (my personal entre into the subject), Bruce Bliven's classic Battle for Manhattan and others. Beyond the specific history that Sullivan writes about, and his personal journey, in the end My American Revolution is a broad, joyous meditation on how we live with and interact with history in our daily lives.
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on November 23, 2012
Not only those with an interest in George Washington and the American Revolution will like this book; it will also please naturalists, lovers of odd ball characters from our past, natives of New York City and New Jersey, and admirers of good writing.

Robert Sullivan has authored a good and sometimes funny story, supplemented with meandering and informative footnotes, that affirms that there are still many individuals, including the author, among us today with a keen and lively interest in the urban landscape of history. These people, often-unsung amateurs, love their surroundings and the forces that have served to create the present.

Mr. Sullivan also performs a service in reminding us that our revolutionary war was no simple task and that those who fought under General Washington overcame many obstacles, not the least of which were weather and travel.
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on April 30, 2013
An everyman's account of Washington's trek, from crossing the Delaware to his inauguration as first President. With many reasons why the "middle colonies" were the real cradle of the Revolution as opposed to the New England colonies. As a native of northern New Jersey, I found the many specific geographic references enlightening, never having known any of this. Also having had a father from Brooklyn, I never heard of the Battle of Brooklyn or of Long Island. I'm on my third reading of Sullivan's work, and am planning a visit to Brooklyn with both of my sons to discover more of my own family's history and to perhaps look for some of the many landmarks the author mentioned. If Robert Sullivan ever leads a journey of the historic sites in the area, count me in.
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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2013
Robert Sullivan meandered over various routes that Washington's armies followed during the Revolution. He looked from hilltop to hilltop to see why generals might have chosen those encampments in the NY - NJ - PA area. He tried signaling with mirrors.

This book is an interesting meander. It is sort of disjointed and autobiographical, but you will learn something from reading it. I would like to see something similar done with the group that went to Quebec.

I took off a star for disorganization, but I am a little OCD.
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on May 24, 2013
I love this book. It evokes the period of the American Revolution in NYC in a way that makes one look at the city in a new way. It's smart and funny and well written.
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2012
Robert Sullivan's recreation of the American Revolution relative to New York, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania is scholarly and astute. There is a tendency towards drifting around the subject and overwriting some details, but it's an interesting book.

Sullivan did a lot of traveling in the area, speaking with interesting people, and suffering with the weather extremes, but he certainly didn't endure as much as the original participants. I've always admired the zeal and hardiness of history recreaters but never stop wondering about their grasp on reality. Although their discomfort is not near that of the original participants, one has to wonder why rolling around in the dirt in a stuffy tent, eating gritty meals and drinking tepid water, and wearing scratchy uniform remnants beats watching Saturday afternoon football with a bowl of popcorn and a beer.

The author has a penchant for the past and how modern advancements have changed the landscape. He apparently enjoys recreating in his mind how it was before speeding automobiles and concrete byways pushed plains, marshes, and rocky hills into oblivion. I enjoyed his reflections to a point. However, they tended to get labored and overstated at times. I struggled on, searching for the wit and insight that some reviewers promised. Good stuff did appear to make it worth the effort.

Sullivan's use of footnotes deserves some criticism. There were too many and they were too lengthy. Some rambled on for a couple of pages. Better, I think, would have been to edit them down and insert them into the main text. I found myself either skimming them or not reading them at all so as not to lose the continuity of the author's main points.

I would recommend MY AMERICAN REVOLUTION to natives of the area and hard core history addicts who've read almost everything else about the war. If I needed profound background on the rebellion I would certainly include information found here. It is probing and, no doubt, accurate.

Schuyler T Wallace
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on November 17, 2012
My American Revolution is a great personal take on American Revolution. He followed George Washington's footsteps. Now I want to follow his..
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on December 16, 2012
As a resident of New Jersey interested in history I bought this title with great anticipation. I stopped reading half-way through because the book is disjointed. There are so many tangents, side stories and one offs, the book lacks a coherent structure. I also didn't connect with the author's sense of humor.
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on January 17, 2014
Expected to have been drawn into the revolution. Instead I was bored with the authors travels. I think it missed the revolution!
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on January 7, 2013
The book is barely history but more the author's impressions on a variety of subjects as he tramps through the New Jersey fields and New York boroughs. The foot notes are endless and in many instances irrelevant to the main text. A few pearls but otherwise disappointing.
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