Regular price: $38.49

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 1993

Grand in scope, rigorous in its arguments, and elegantly synthesizing 30 years of scholarship, Gordon S. Wood's Pulitzer Prize–winning book analyzes the social, political, and economic consequences of 1776. In The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Wood depicts not just a break with England, but the rejection of an entire way of life: of a society with feudal dependencies, a politics of patronage, and a world view in which people were divided between the nobility and "the Herd." He shows how the theories of the country's founders became realities that sometimes baffled and disappointed them. Above all, Bancroft Prize–winning historian Wood rescues the revolution from abstraction, allowing readers to see it with a true sense of its drama---and not a little awe.

©1993 Gordon S. Wood (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The most important study of the American Revolution to appear in over twenty years...a landmark book." (Pauline Maier, The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    82
  • 4 Stars
    77
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    5

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    58
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    9

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    76
  • 4 Stars
    54
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A unique and relevant look at the founding

It is easy to see how this book is relevant to understanding America today - society, politics and government.

Wood doesn't quite say it this way, but his basic argument is this: the founding generation were trying to create a new society, but they failed to create the one they envisioned. Instead, the society they created turned out better - from the perspective of modern Americans - because it is more democratic than they imagined any place ever could be.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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

The matter of class

What did you love best about The Radicalism of the American Revolution?

This account of the revolution is fascinating for its focus on issues of class which were, on the one hand, much less distinct than those of England, and yet more distinct than we would recognize. It is a useful perspective for me as a history teacher.

What about Paul Boehmer’s performance did you like?

I prefer readers who don't call attention to themselves in the reading. This fits the bill

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cynthia
  • Monrovia, California, United States
  • 01-04-14

Changed the Way I Think

In December 2013, researchers from Emory University published "Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain." The paper, published in "Brain Connectivity" starts with "Most people can identify books that have made great impressions on them and, subjectively, changed the way they think." The authors, Gregory S. Bern et. al., using functional MRIs, determined that reading a novel literally changes neural connectivity, at least for a short period of time. I believe the same changes take place while reading/listening to a non-fiction work.

If I had been in that study while I listened to Gordon S. Woods' 1993 Pulitzer-prize winning non-fiction book "The Radicalism of the American Revolution," I would have shown those changes, too. This book literally made me think differently, certainly about the American Revolution, but also about common democracy, the birth of nations, macroeconomics and the use of currency . . . & etc. The changes may be long term for me: because of the complexity of what Woods described and his interpretation of what it meant, I was only able to listen for an hour or so at a time, before I set the listen aside to think about what I heard. It took me several months to finish the book.

I had never considered the full impact of the American Revolution, beyond the overarching change from a hereditary and despotic monarchy to a democracy. Social systems, such as care for the infirm, elderly and indigent, which had been provided as a matter of noblesse oblige by titled members of society, had to be reimagined and reinvented. Land ownership had been established and controlled in the British Isles by the 1086 AD Domesday Book, under the direction of William the Conqueror. In the States, that ancient accounting meant nothing. Wealth in America was acquired by hard work and tenacity, and it was no longer an embarrassment to work for a living, rather than inherit a tidy sum and live a life of leisure buoyed by careful investment and management of tenant farmers. Success no longer depended on who you were born to, and neither did the ability to obtain an education. Corporations, who have a major influence on our daily lives now, came into existence with the basic criteria that they be registered in a State and pay taxes.

Wood notes that in the 18th and 19th centuries, the social, governmental and economic revolution in America belonged to White, Protestant Men, but that laid the foundation for the democratic advancement of blacks and other ethnic groups, women, non-Protestants, and so on. The book doesn't mention equal rights for gays, but it was written 20 years ago, and those rights are a logical extension. Woods also pointed out that the founding fathers - especially Thomas Jefferson and John Adams - did not anticipate this radical cultural shift, and were entirely dismayed.

I didn't think "The Radicalism of the American Revolution" was particularly well written, especially in comparison to Doris Kearns Goodwin's books (most recently, "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" (2013).) Woods could have used a good edit - he tended to wander off topic, and organization isn't his strongest skill. At times, his arguments were hectoring. These 'faults' actually meant that I thought more critically about the book and its ideas than I would have with an easier listen, which reinforced what I learned.

Definitely worth the listen, but it's not for beginners: you'll need a basic understanding of the timeline and leaders from the 1700's and early 1800's to know who Woods is referring to.

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

33 of 40 people found this review helpful

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

Without a discussion about slavery RAR does not rate a 5

Gordon Wood is a giant in historical circles; an expert par excellence when it comes to the American Revolution. This work, beautifully narrated, turns the screw on the the now old school belief that the AR was a conservative movement. The clarity of Wood’s analysis, the depth of his research, and his compelling argument that the AR tore down a rigid stratification of society, leaving the enlightenment notions of the founding fathers, anachronistic, can no longer be debated. Yet, as I read his book with enthusiasm, I found myself waiting endlessly it seemed, for a discussion of slavery in the context of the pre revolutionary patronage system. After all, the “peculiar institution” was the ultimate patronage system in its most extreme and pernicious form. Indeed it lasted for over 60 years following the AR. Charles Pinckney exemplified this patronage and led his state as a political leader in the effort to preserve this ugly patronage. And yet nary a word from professor Wood on this subject. I can only express my consternation and surprise at this claring omission. Conrad Varner Kure Beach NC (Brown U. ‘65 ).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

Great book!

I was stunned to learn how similar our political and economic issues were, compared to those of the founding fathers. This is a must read for those interested in political science, public administration, or early American history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Interesting book, boring audio!

So weird, this reader is actually pretty good in the fiction he reads. Perhaps his boredom with history accounts for how bad the reading is. Blech.

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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

Very Helpful

I was assigned this book to read for a college course, and a lot of the topics covered in here were so dense and lengthy I knew I wouldn’t be able to read it on my own and comprehend it. Using the audiobook made it easier to divide it up and understand. Paul Boehmer did a great job, and I found the book surprisingly interesting.

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

MAGAchuds of the world, please read this.

loved the book. please read this. it explains the revolution at the level of the individual.

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

Missing Chapters

This book has 17 chapters but the audio is missing the last chapters and the chapters are off.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mike Z
  • Massachusetts
  • 01-31-18

Too dry!

Speaker needs to be replaced with someone with emotion, not so bland! Very boring, repetitive at times as well.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sakunthala Panditharatne
  • 06-01-17

Fascinating cultural study

Would you listen to The Radicalism of the American Revolution again? Why?

Probably would not listen again, it was quite heavy and chock full of facts (which is also a strength)

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not sure this question applies, it's a non-fiction book - but I'm going to say Alexander Hamilton

Which character – as performed by Paul Boehmer – was your favourite?

see above

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The redcoats were ... Actually Very Bad

Any additional comments?

This is a really amazing, in-depth book that will help you understand both Britain and America better.