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Paul Revere's Ride Paperback – April 19, 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 292 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-A whole book about a minor incident? You bet, and a terrific book, at that. Fischer's exhaustive research shows that Revere played an important role in pre-Revolutionary Boston that included, but was by no means limited to, his midnight ride. The author shows how Longfellow's poem deliberately distorted the facts in order to suit the political climate of the times; the real story surrounding Revere's role and the battles of Concord and Lexington is infinitely more interesting because it involves planning, courage, danger, suspense, and national destiny. This is exciting history, and Fischer adeptly paints it in stirring tones while giving background information on Revere and General Thomas Gage. For the rest of their lives, people remembered where they were when Revere made his famous midnight ride, as readers will remember this fascinating account.
Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

It is rare when a scholarly history will appeal to a general readership, but such is the case with this book. Part biography of Revere and part history of the battles of Lexington and Concord, it places the "midnight ride" in the broad context of American resistance to Great Britain as just one of many similar actions taken by Revere and others. Particularly good is Fischer's (history, Brandeis Univ.) description of the civilian reaction to the British march to Concord and his exploration of the "spontaneous" rising of the New England militia to fight the British. Fischer's ulterior motive is to return contingency to its central importance in the historical process--to restore the "causal power of particular actions and contingent events." In the process he has written a meticulously researched and wonderfully evocative narrative that will be enjoyed by history lovers and scholars alike.
- David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 19, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195098315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195098310
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.2 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen M. Bainbridge on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Hackett Fisher's Paul Revere's Ride ("PRR") is a wonderful work of narrative history, with some splendid historiography tacked on at the end. Paul Revere's role in the events of April 18-19, 1775, has been contested by various critics. Descendants and partisans of William Dawes have claimed that his role was far more significant. Post-modernists have deconstructed Rever's ride as an exercise in national myth-making.
Fisher puts Revere back in the center of the events of April 1775. Of course, PRR is more than just an account of the ride. Fisher gives us a blend of biography and history--he opens with a short account of Revere's youth and then situates Revere in the Boston Whig movement that gave rise to the Revolution. The ride is then put into the context of the origins of the British expedition and the battle of Lexington and Concord.
One of the things I like best about PRR is Fisher's even-handness and basic fairness. Revere takes center stage, but Fisher does not overstate the case--he acknowledges that others played important roles (notably Dawes). Even as to Revere's silversmithing, Fisher acknowledges that Revere's work was not always perfect. General Gage and the other British protagonists are given fair--even sympathetic--treatment.
One particularly interesting contribution made by PRR is Fisher's treatment of the Lexington-Concord battle as a public relations issue. He explains how news spread through the colonies, how Congress got their version of events to London before Gage, how that account affected British public opinion. Given how important public opinion was in the course of the war, this is a very valuable treatment.
Lastly, but maybe not least, the book is superbly illustrated.
In sum, very highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Judging only by the number of times I talked about it with friends and family, this is a most impressive book.

David Hackett Fisher has assembled a masterwork of storytelling and fact to tell the story not only of Paul Revere, but of the social milieu in which he operated. My fear in reading modern books about historical heros is that a better-researched telling will rub away some of the hero's luster. "Ride," however, teaches new lessons about Revere, while actually enlarging his contribution to history.

Hackett tells the tale of Revere, a Boston craftsman, who was a member of many of the colonial resistance organizations of his day. No one else knew as many colonial leaders and activists as he. When it came time to warn colonists of the British movements toward Concord (to confiscate stores of powder being stockpiled by local militias) Revere was a handy person to have in the saddle. Unlike the impression given by popular legend, Revere did not ride the countryside at random, but with purpose. Knowing the names and residences of the captains of local militias, he warned them of the British movements, allowing the captains to spread the alarm to their own militias. By the time the sun rose, militias throughout eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire were streaming toward Concord. Though stopped by a British patrol short of his destination in Concord, Revere set out on foot to Lexington to warn resistance leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock and to hide important documents. Revere's presence in Lexington as the British entered town, and his earwitnessing of "the shot heard round the world" were thrilling to read and retell.

Hackett's retelling of Revere's story marks a shift (in my experience) from imagining heros as noble loners working in a social vacuum.
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Format: Paperback
This book was a real surprise and fantastic read, especially for those who are Amercian History buffs. The action moves along at a good clip, with excellent maps provided along the way. I was struck by three themes: the impact that one individual (Paul Revere) can have on historical events; the tragic consequences of poor leadership (General Gage); and what was truly incredible about the early American patriots -- their ability to mobilize so quickly and effectively, despite having no formal military training. You may think you know these details already from your early school history books -- Fischer's account of these events will show you what you've been missing.
Finally, I recommend reading this in the fall if you're really missing New England!
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Format: Paperback
In what David Hackett Fisher calls these days of national amnesia, Paul Revere's ride - the event, not the book - holds a prime position in American folklore. Composers have written a march and an operetta about it. Artists have painted it, scientists have theorized about its astronomy, geology and meteorology and authors have written scores of children's books about it. The only group that seems to have ignored it is that composed of academic historians. Hackett Fisher says it's because the "only creature less fashionable in academe than the stereotypical dead white male is a dead white male on horseback." He's more reflective when he says an entire generation of academic historiography has lost its sense of the power of particular actions and contingent activities, what Walter Lippmann calls the crystallizing event.

Paul Revere's Ride is about the political and tactical chess match between American patriots and British imperialists in the months leading up to the beginning of the American Revolution. Its epicenter chronicles the execution of the plan that alerted the colonial militia to mobilize and march to engage the British at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775. David Hackett Fischer demonstrates his skill as storyteller and historian as he wraps his work around civic-minded Boston silversmith Paul Revere and his nemesis, aristocratic British general, Thomas Gage. Both men believed deeply in freedom; Revere's version cherished collective rights with individual responsibilities, Gage's was more hierarchical, more elitist than Revere's. The book is wonderfully engaging because Hackett Fisher weaves primary sources into both historical and contemporary context while exploding several myths along the way. In other words, the book is about much more than Paul Revere's ride.
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