Complain about this book about the American Revolutionary War here.

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by mioque, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. mioque

    mioque
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2003
    Messages:
    3,899
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is the story of America’s first civil war – the vicious struggle between brothers, friends and families which forged a new nation. Using the latest scholarship, vivid eye-witness accounts and original documents, this book tells the history of the passionate, violent and bloody events of the 1770s.

    The book argues against the commonly held view that the War of Independence was the American people’s struggle for liberty against an oppressive colonial power. The truth is far more fascinating. Many Americans were loyal to the Crown throughout the war. Men and women often chose sides not because they wanted freedom, but because they wanted their neighbour’s land. This book explores intriguing paradoxes through personal stories of women such as Jane McCrea, whose fiancé was a British officer but whose brother was a rebel soldier. There are stories representing every interest group: Redcoats, loyalists, rebels, neutrals, French soldiers, Indian warriors, slaves, landed gentry and sharecropper, touching on issues such as that:

    • the real victors of the War of Independence were the French not the Americans;
    • the British Army could have continued the land war and intervention by the French Navy was decisive in the British defeat;
    • slave uprisings were supported the British against the rebels, because of their brutal treatment by the colonists;
    • many Native American tribes remained loyal to the British but both loyalists and rebels betrayed the tribes who had supported them;
    • when the conflict began very few in Britain or America believed the 13 colonies would gain independence;
    • there were many mutinies in the rebel army including one in New Jersey which had to be put down by a large force sent by General Washington.
    http://www.harpercollins.com.au/title.cfm?ISBN=0007156251&Author=0021078


    A DELIGHTFUL SUBVERSION

    I also read Hugh Bicheno's Rebels and Redcoats this week. A revisionist history of the American Revolution, it is a must-read... quite possibly the most anti-American screed I have read in some time, systematically dismantling the American founding myth from the ground up. The introduction alone is devastating to anyone's pretense of Yankee exceptionalism, written by an author and skilled historian who doesn't just detail his personal contempt for what he sees as the layers of propaganda slathered on the "Founding Fathers," but positively revels in it. It is not only that remarkable thing, readable military history in the Keegan-Holmes vein; it is also probably the most subversive paperback in the bookstores today.
    A few other thoughts on Bicheno: <continues>
    http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/archives/2004_03_12.html

    http://books.ontheweb.co.uk/ukshop/rebels-and-redcoats.html

    An old friend of mine who is a military historian loaned me this book after he heard I participated on an American message board. That would be this board. [​IMG]
    Anyway I was a bit surprised this recent controversial book hadn't been ranted about around here.
    After all books that describe John Adams as the American Abu Nidal don't get published every day by serious historians.
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2001
    Messages:
    2,056
    Likes Received:
    0
    Monique

    Thanks for the tip, havent heard of this book before.

    I have been engaged to write a formal history of a backwater Virginia County for the Jamestown celebration in 2007, and in researching that book, and other research, I can confirm much of the commentary presented in your review.

    "Patriot" officers often ended up with the land of those who were loyal to the crown, without much difficulty or expense.

    Some on the board are no doubt familiar with the movie "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson about the War in the South. What the movie fails to present is that "Patriots" in the Carolinas and Virginia were hanging loyalists right and left.

    In the district where I grew up, 95% of the population was loyal to the crown, and I attribute this to the fact that the "Patriot" leader was prone to hanging anyone who annoyed him. Thoroughly corrupt fellow but was considered a Hero of Kings Mountain. If he had supported the King, I feel confident that his neighbors would have fought for the other side.

    Estimates of loyalties at the time approximate 1/3 for the "patriots", 1/3 for the crown and 1/3 didn't care one way or the other. In some districts these numbers are skewed radically to one side or another.

    You mention a mutiny in New Jersey. It wasn't the only one, there were a couple in Virginia, which I have researched, and probably other places as well.

    As for being a revisionist history I cannot say, not having read the book, but the traditional American account of the American Revolution often have little to do with the facts on the ground at the time. So, in my opinion the traditional American histories are actually revisionists, in that the revised the facts to support their political agendas.

    The notion of taxation without representation is pretty well a myth. The British government was expending large sums of money defending America, and had asked for local contributions to defray the expenses, and most of the colonial legislatures declined--the Quaker controled legislature in Pennsylvania perhaps being the most notorious, but it was not alone, New York and the New England Colonies also declined to assist in the struggle against the French in the mid-18th century.

    The notion that George III was a tyrant just won't wash. He was quite progressive in his political thinking, especially for the time, and was nearly as liberal as the American leaders.
     
  3. LandonL

    LandonL
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your point about no taxation without representation being 'pretty well a myth' is interesting. Yes, Britain was expending gobs of money financing troops that George III refused to bring home at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War to us Yankees [​IMG] ), and yes, they did ask the colonists for money to help defray expenses. And yes, the assemblies did decline to vote a levy.

    What you fail to mention, however, is that the troops were largely useless. American Colonists were still slaughtered by some indian groups (granted, this went both ways, but my point stands--the British troops weren't fulfilling their nominal roles in the colonies). As expenses grew, the troops were drawn back towards the seaboard--the cities--causing further speculation as to just why they were there. To keep the colonists in line perhaps? These same soldiers competed with American dockworkers for jobs in their spare time.

    So, in conclusion, it's not necessarily a myth. The British wanted the Americans to pay for a military police force that they neither wanted nor needed. An agitated reaction is only to be expected in a situation like that.

    Few people have pointed out, by the way, that the entire problem quite possibly would have been solved if Parliament had just allowed the colonies to elect representatives and then promptly used their majority to ram a few taxes down their throats. It would have had the air of legitimacy, whether the colonists liked it or not.
     
  4. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Given that only 4% of the British population were eligible to vote at the time, the "taxation without representation" point was pretty much equally valid both sides of the Atlantic, which is odd, because it was the principle of "representation to pay for taxation" point that had led to the establishment of Parliament in the Late Middle Ages in the first place and then greatly strengthened its hand in and after the Civil Wars. The problem was that, having gained that degree of power to scrutinise and collect taxes, Parliament was not about to share that power with anyone else, be they colonists in America or the middle and lower classes in Britain; as a consequence, Parliament had become something of a cosy and corrupt club for the 'in-crowd'. So it was actually Parliament, not King George, which was responsible largely for the breach with North America. It was only in the 19th century, with increased taxation biting the middle classes to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, that the middle classes picked up on the "no taxation without representation" cause themselves in the UK and widened the franchise in 1832, 1867 and 1884; the 1832 Great Reform was in part also caused by the threat of a French-style Revolution hanging in the air and it was ironically George's son King William who was so scared of that prospect who forced the legislation through

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  5. MargoWriter

    MargoWriter
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd have been a loyalist. ;)
     
  6. rsr

    rsr
    Expand Collapse
    <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Messages:
    10,074
    Likes Received:
    102
    I don't see anything particularly shocking or new in the list. Except the first item; the British, to my minds, were the big winners. They lost the 13 colonies but gobbled up French territory across the globe and held onto Canada.

    The French, it seems to me, got very little out of the deal except a crushing debt that would later bankrupt the government and dangerous contact with notions of egalite, both of which would be large factors in the French Revolution. Of course, if you consider the French Revolution predominantly a good thing for France, you could make the case.


    Jeff said:

    "So, in my opinion the traditional American histories are actually revisionists, in that the revised the facts to support their political agendas."

    We've been through several waves of revisionism and will go through more. Any decent history must be revisionism of a sort if it is to do more than give a chronology of what happened without trying to explain why. And that process will always be filtered through a contemporary lens with contemporary biases.

    What complicates matters is that figures may say they're doing something for one reason (conquering the New World to spread Christianity, seceding to uphold states' right, making the world safe for democracy) when they may, in fact, being being up to something else without knowing it.

    Maybe Hegel was right after all.
     
  7. Daisy

    Daisy
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2003
    Messages:
    7,751
    Likes Received:
    0
    About what?

    *** as much as I dislike exposing my ignorance ***
     
  8. rsr

    rsr
    Expand Collapse
    <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Messages:
    10,074
    Likes Received:
    102
    Andrew Sola, University of Maryland, ©The Literary Encyclopedia at www.LitEncyc.com
     

Share This Page

Loading...