The British Are Coming

The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (The Revolution Trilogy, Book 1)
Length: 26 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (964 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of AudioFile Magazine's Best Audiobooks of 2019
One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of the Year for 2019
One of Amazon.com's Best Books of the Year for 2019
One of the New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year for 2019
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year for 2019

"The winning combination of George Newbern's engaging narration and Rick Atkinson's vivid new work of history - the first in a planned trilogy about the American Revolution - brings to life what could have been a dry account of Revolutionary battles." (AudioFile Magazine)

This program includes a bonus introduction, read by the author, and exclusive to the audiobook.

From the best-selling author of the Liberation Trilogy comes the extraordinary first volume of his new trilogy about the American Revolution.

Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now, he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy, he recounts the first 21 months of America’s violent war for independence. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force.

It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.

Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country’s creation drama.

©2019 Rick Atkinson (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The British Are Coming

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Where are the Maps?

Rick Atkinson's newspaper man's nose for telling details makes this well trod story exciting and fresh. My only complaint is not getting a PDF file of the 14 maps that accompany the book. My local library has a wait list for the book that is still two months long. Since I live on Long Island and worked for 30 years in Manhattan , I have a good sense of the battles locally but do not clearly grasp the scenes near Concord and Bunker Hill and even less South Carolina's Sullivan's Island. Also I fail to understand the criticism of the narrator. I am old and half deaf and listen while walking outside and found his voice clear, well enunciated and most enjoyable.

22 people found this helpful

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If you like lists and inventories, this is for you

This is a dull, dull book. Atkinson seems to make it his mission to completely miss the forest for the trees. He provides endless lists -- hundreds and hundreds of lists -- of the weight, number, and volume of salt pork, salt beef, pigs, hogs, sheep, ewes, horses, candles, wicks, chamber pots, boots, coats, tents, rum, brine, nails, planks, wheels, carts, oats, fodder, barrels, gunpowder, cannonballs, rope, masts, sails, blankets, wigs, ribbons, and bows. Endless, endless lists. The lists are at first just tedious, then boring, and ultimately comical and irritating. And yet, there is nothing -- nothing -- on the historical arc that made these boots, coats, and tents important. The Boston Massacre is not treated at all; the Boston Tea Party gets a couple of paragraphs; and the Declaration of Independence a page or two. Atkinson can tell you how many eyelets are on a British boot, but he says next to nothing about the rise of George Washington or the interplay of the military campaign and the national politics taking shape in Philadelphia. And, man, Atkinson never met an adjective he didn't like. Every noun gets adorned with two or three. This is a dull, dull book.

12 people found this helpful

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Breathes new life into History

Bought this on a whim, never much of a revolutionary war aficionado. Atkinson’s account was highly listenable. My only regret is that I didn’t wait for the series to be concluded before buying, because I want to jump into part 2 right now!

11 people found this helpful

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Exciting

This is the first volume of what promises to be an exciting trilogy about the Revolutionary War. Atkinson writes vividly, and despite my having read four or five books on the subject, I found new information on every page. All the usual events are here, but he goes into considerable detail about less familiar episodes like Henry Clinton’s expedition to North Carolina and the fire ships (and submarine!) that attacked the British in New York harbor. It’s all carefully put together like a mosaic.

He describes the failed British naval attack on Charleston in vivid detail. (Many of the place names were echoed 90 years later in the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.) I knew from grade school days that the governor of Virginia, the Earl of Dunmore, had been chased out of the governor’s mansion in Williamsburg, but did not remember that Virginia militia had tracked him up the York River, where he was wounded by cannon fire and eventually fled to England.

Atkinson, while recognizing Washington’s major role in winning independence, keeps a clear head when describing his numerous tactical failures. For example, even as the British were landing tens of thousands of soldiers on Long Island, in preparation for an attack on Brooklyn Heights, Washington remained convinced until the last minute that it was a feint, and that the real danger lay in an imagined attack on Manhattan. He was forced to abandon Brooklyn, then Manhattan, then Harlem, then White Plains, then New York State altogether, fleeing across New Jersey with William Howe in hot pursuit. Behind him, Manhattan burned.

The story could make a brilliant movie: few historical episodes have such a dramatic shape right off the bat. Retreat; retreat; retreat; retreat; ATTACK. And the Christmas attack on Trenton, and the New Year’s attack on Princeton, show Washington's real strength as a leader: he consistently eluded capture; he never gave up: and no matter how mocked and derided by the British, he remained a dangerous opponent with a deadly sting.

Atkinson has resolutely kept his focus on military action, almost to the exclusion of political developments. Our first inkling of the Declaration of Independence, for example, is when it’s being read to the army camped around Boston. But there is one exception to this, and it's an odd one: while giving little attention to developments in Philadelphia, he includes sometimes lengthy accounts of political developments in London and Paris.

Apart from that, I have only one complaint, and it's one I've been making often in recent months. Any military history will benefit from maps, and the maps in the printed edition of this book are beautiful and remarkably clear — among the best I've seen. I happened to have picked up a copy of the book before the audiobook came out, so I had the maps handy. It would be nice if audiobook publishers made these available as supplementary downloads. Sometimes they do; most of the time, as here, they don't.

Excellent job by the narrator George Newbern.

6 people found this helpful

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Great Detail

Good narration. Well researched with lots of details regarding both sides of the battle. Some of the battle sequences were a bit long. I enjoyed the details about individuals like George Washington, Benedict Arnold, King George, and others. Interesting excerpts from letters and publications of the time. Looking forward to volumes 2 and 3.

4 people found this helpful

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Something new

If you think you know something of the first years of the American Revolution, this book will add to that knowledge. If you know nothing, this is a great beginning. I have read his history of the American Army in World War II and this is just as good. A great story teller and worth the listen.

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Can't Wait For the Next Volume

I am a big fan of Mr. Atkinson's WW2 trilogy and so looked forward to this trilogy. I was not disappointed at all. I'm just sorry that the next two volumes aren't published yet! His use of both British and American primary sources make this one of the fairest books about the American Revolution I have read.

4 people found this helpful

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Exquisite Detail!

This is my first book by Rick Atkinson, but not my last. His painstaking and detailed research is then woven into a story rich with little known facts and historical secrets. Several things stood out in his account. The first was the incredible logistical requirements of every sort imaginable to sustain two armies in the field. The second was the abysmal conditions of winter, starvation, and cold that the rebels endured to win their freedom from King George such was their desire to be free. Lastly, this book clearly describes how close George Washington came to losing the war several times with bad tactical choices on the battlefield. It seems that only divine intervention kept us from being English subjects to this day. Two final thoughts... if only today's wanna be revolutionary socialists had even but a grasp of the sacrifice colonial patriots made to create this country, they might be less inclined to cancel the cultural history of it. Secondly, I was disappointed that Atkinson did not complete the entire story through to the inglorious end of the British endeavors at Yorktown.

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This is excellent!

I’ll leave my opinion of Mr. Atkinson aside for this review, as it is, just that, my opinion. I only say, I wish they that belayed his preface.

As usual, for Mr. Atkinson, this is a really well detailed and researched work, with obvious hours spent in the English archives. We get history and personal detail here, that previous works on the subject, by other American authors, haven’t told.
It’s very interesting, with vernacular detail that kept my interest.
Really good listen for someone wanting to learn or know more about the beginning years of our Revolution.

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Excellent overall

The book was a little weak in coverage of 1775-early 1776 compared to other authors that covered the early stage of the American revolution. Atkinson came into his own in the middle and last sections of this book. Especially interesting to me was the discussion of difficulties faced by the British and loyalists. I am looking forward to the next two books in this trilogy.

7 people found this helpful