Before there could be a revolution, there was a rebellion; before patriots, there were insurgents.
Challenging and displacing decades of received wisdom, T. H. Breen's strikingly original book explains how ordinary Americans - most of them members of farm families living in small communities - were drawn into a successful insurgency against imperial authority. This is the story of our national political origins that most Americans do not know. It is a story of rumor, charity, vengeance, and restraint. American Insurgents, American Patriots reminds us that revolutions are violent events. They provoke passion and rage, a willingness to use violence to achieve political ends, a deep sense of betrayal, and a strong religious conviction that God expects an oppressed people to defend their rights. The American Revolution was no exception.
A few celebrated figures in the Continental Congress do not make for a revolution. It requires tens of thousands of ordinary men and women willing to sacrifice, kill, and be killed. Breen not only tells the history of these ordinary Americans but, drawing upon a wealth of rarely seen documents, restores their primacy to America's road to independence. Mobilizing two years before the Declaration of Independence, American insurgents in all 13 colonies concluded that resistance to British oppression required organized violence against the state. They channeled popular rage through elected committees of safety and observation, which before 1776 were the heart of American resistance. American Insurgents, American Patriots is the stunning account of their insurgency, without which there would have been no independent republic as we know it.
©2010 T.H. Breen (P)2010 Tantor
“A provocative reinterpretation of the American Revolution as more of a grassroots movement of ordinary persons than is often presented.... This is a valuable book by a distinguished scholar.” (Publishers Weekly)
As a student that was required to read this in the summer before US History 1, I was already unhappy about reading this before I opened the cover for the first time. My cruel, cruel teacher made me read this 300 page collection of stories. I had to drag my eyes across the first 50 or so pages before I realized that this stupid and unnecessarily long book actually was astoundingly interesting.
To give an overview of the book:
There are ten chapters, each about 25 or more pages, that provide a timeline of the cultural, political, and ideological state of pre-American-Revolution Americans. the first two or three chapters give the reader a detailed picture of the culture values of America in early 1774 by leading the reader through the tales of two ordinary Americans and their families. The rest of the chapters show the developments and innovations in American thought, technology, and religious beliefs and how the British government responded to Americans' actions.
For me, the beginning was needlessly detailed, and a little repetitive. However, the rest of the book really captivated me. I actually had fun looking at the cause and effect that eventually led to the American Revolution.
It is important to note that this book likes to focus on the lives and actions of ordinary Americans, not the big figures in the American revolution (George Washington, Benjamin Franklin).
this book was a surprisingly fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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