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Publisher's Summary

The ideals of freedom and individual rights that inspired America's Founding Fathers did not spring from a vacuum. Along with many other defining principles of our national character, they can be traced directly back to one of the most pivotal events in British history: the late-17th-century uprising known as the Glorious Revolution.

In a work of popular history that stands with recent favorites such as David McCullough's 1776 and Joseph J. Ellis' Founding Brothers, Michael Barone brings the story of this unlikely and largely bloodless revolt to American readers and reveals that, without the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution may never have happened.

Unfolding in 1688-89, Britain's Glorious Revolution resulted in the hallmarks of representative government, guaranteed liberties, the foundations of global capitalism, and a foreign policy of opposing aggressive foreign powers. But as Barone shows, there was nothing inevitable about the Glorious Revolution. It sprang from the character of the English people and depended on the talents, audacity, and good luck of two men: William of Orange (later William III of England), who launched history's last successful cross-channel invasion, and John Churchill, an ancestor of Winston, who commanded the forces of the deposed James II but crossed over to support William one fateful November night.

The story of the Glorious Revolution is a rich and riveting saga of palace intrigue, loyalty, and shocking betrayal, and bold political and military strategizing. With narrative drive, a sure command of historical events, and unforgettable portraits of kings, queens, soldiers, parliamentarians, and a large cast of full-blooded characters, Barone takes an episode that has fallen into unjustified obscurity and restores it to the prominence it deserves.

©2007 Michael Barone; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Well-written history...lucid." (Publishers Weekly)
"Michael Barone...provides a splendid analysis of the intellectual pedigree of America's political order. He demonstrates the remarkable extent to which our revolution was a reverberation of another one." (George F. Will)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Recap of a Forgotten Event

This is submitted just as an observation from the previous review which gave this book a somewhat undeserved low rating. It is correct that the narrative covers a confusing and contradictory event in history, but I found its approach creating a straight forward,even balanced, and most importantly, an interesting account all the same.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

good, not great

This book comes in two parts, the first 40% of so is the necessary background information for understanding the "Glorious Revolution" & its immediate aftermath, the context. The remaining 60% is the story of the run-up to the revolution under James II, the conquest, and the aftermath. The work is well narrated. However, the first portion is a jumble, organizationally, and the previous Audible reviewer who noted that having a good understanding of the history from other sources is necessary to understand this part of the book, was right on target. I do have that background, and it helped immensely. I should say that the author does a good job on vignettes & small interpretative sections here, but jumps around a bit too much and needed an editor to insert thesis statements here & there.

The 60% that is actually about the Glorious Revolution (which some pundit remarked was "neither glorious nor a revolution") is very well done. It is worth getting the book to listen to this portion. The author's history is good here, the narrative drive moves you along, and this part of the book has ample amounts of thesis statements & good organization. The author's interpretations of the events, events that were critical to the future evolution of the UK and North America, is good.

I highly recommend the book for the last 60%.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not a Real Historian

I don't have a lot to say because I didn't finish the book, and I'll be the first to admit that, because of that, you shouldn't go on my opinion alone on this one.

But I did want to issue a buyer beware: Michael Barone is not a real historian but a Fox News hack--ok, he also wrote for US News). Does that mean he's not qualified to write a history book? Not necessarily. But in the short part of the book I listened to (enough to make me go "who is this author anyway" and then to wiki him), it was clear that this is a book looking to draw broad, simplistic, moralistic conclusions from history. It's intended to show us where our freedom comes from and why America is the greatest nation on Earth, etc.

Again, that doesn't mean the book is worthless, but there are plenty of excellent books out there on 17th century English history. Unfortunately, none on audible at the moment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Way too much preamble and a misleading title

Very thorough and well written history of England from 1650 to 1700. However, the title topic - the Glorious Revolution - does not take place until at least 3/4 through the book.

While some historic context would have been necessary and appreciated, a couple chapters could have set the stage. By the time the revolution happens, there is actually less detail about IT than is provided about many other much less significant events.

I also had hoped for an analysis of how the American revolution or constitution might have been influenced by the preceding Glorious Revolution, but was disappointed to hear just 10 minutes or so crammed in at the end on this topic.

If you want to know every detail of 1650s to 1690s british politics, this book will be a dream come true. If you are interested in what "Inspired America's Founding Fathers" as described in the subtitle, please save your money and look elsewhere.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Important, yet not Widely Known

This revolution before the American Revolution seems to have been important in shaping the American identity and probably in shaping the American Revolution.

I was previously unaware of the "The Glorious Revolution". Learning about it shed light on much of American politics, especially American religious politics. This book gave me a new appreciation of William of Orange. More importantly it gave me a new appreciation for the origins of anti-catholic sentiment, which always seemed a little, well un-American.

Finally, this book reinforced the idea that a non-trivial part of what America great was the ability to forge more or less real religious tolerance. In the last 20 years it seems that there has been a noticeable erosion of religious tolerance. I hope this is a temporary fad and not a trend, and wish that I could persuade more of neighbors of the importance of this issue.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ky
  • 04-04-17

interesting

It was very indepth about the Stuarts and William of Orange. There weren't very many links to America, it was more focused on England.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

ambitious topic, well executed

If you could sum up Our First Revolution in three words, what would they be?

A fine account of the half century leading up to the Glorious Revolution and the denouement afterwards. A bit undisciplined in its wide ranging focus and miscellany of themes. At times I felt the author was including his research even if it didn't quite fit in the book. However, the importance of the book's subject and its grand ambition makes up for such flaws.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb Book

Would you listen to Our First Revolution again? Why?

Yes. Barone relates a period of English history that profoundly influenced the American founders. I don't understand those who criticize either the book or the narrator. Yes, it's a complicated story. But the careful reader will be rewarded, and the American reader will understand our founding much better. Highly recommended.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the finest histories, superb performance

Brilliant history filled with fascinating characters. Insights into the Stuart kings, Churchill and William of Orange are fascinating. At the end Barone ties it all up and tells us why it matters. Hoye's performance has exactly the right tone and pacing. One of my favorite repeat listens.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Painful

Quickly and to the point, this was the absolute worst audiobook that I have ever listened to. It made the interesting topic and history very uninteresting and we tough to finish. I would not recommend it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful