Read the Revolution

curated collection of excerpts from exciting, thought-provoking books about the American Revolution

July 29, 2014

Going South

In the summer of 1781, General George Washington faced a crossroads. He had two options: attempt to reclaim New York, or head south to defeat a British stronghold in Yorktown. Band of Giants describes the circumstances surrounding Washington's important decision to march his troops to Virginia.

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July 15, 2014

A Generous and Merciful Enemy

Tens of thousands of German-speaking soldiers — called "Hessians" after the area from which most were recruited — were hired by the British Crown in 1776 to assist in the fight against the American rebels. Daniel Krebs' book A Generous and Merciful Enemy reveals the experience of these men.

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July 1, 2014


Everything changed the day the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence. What had been a series of clashes over the rights of Britain's North American subjects was transformed into a full-blown war to establish an independent nation. David McCullough's book 1776: The Illustrated Edition captures American reactions in the immediate aftermath of the pronouncement, as the enormity of the action becomes clear.

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June 17, 2014

Bunker Hill

On the morning of June 17, 1775, British regulars and American provincials clashed in a savage battle for possession of a strategic height overlooking Boston Harbor. Nathaniel Philbrick described the uncertain, dramatic start to this legendary battle in his recent book, Bunker Hill.

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June 3, 2014


In the early months of the War of Independence, faith in General George Washington's leadership wavered. Among those strongly questioning Washington's strategy was his second-in-command, General Charles Lee. In this excerpt from Phillip Papas' book, Renegade Revolutionary, we see the tension building between the two generals.

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May 20, 2014

Battle at Sea

The still winds plaguing the Atlantic Ocean on May 29, 1781, spelled likely defeat for the Alliance, a Continental frigate ship led by Captain John Barry. In this excerpt from Tim McGrath’s book, John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, we see how a mix of courage and lucky coincidence turned a seeming disaster into a stunning victory.

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May 6, 2014

Fighting Infection

During the War of Independence, soldiers in the Continental Army and state militias were far more likely to succumb to disease than to the bullets or bayonets of their foes. In Jeanne E. Abrams' book, Revolutionary Medicine, we learn how General George Washington's efforts to prevent a smallpox outbreak amongst his troops early in the conflict represent one of the first successful American public health initiatives.

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April 22, 2014

Following the Drum

In Nancy K. Loane's book, Following the Drum, she focuses on female camp followers during the American Revolution: among them nurses, cooks, laundresses, and even ladies of privilege, like Lucy Knox. Knox's presence at numerous encampments not only kept her family together during the war, but also facilitated a lasting friendship with a fellow camp follower: Martha Washington.

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April 8, 2014

A Sincere Passion for Liberty

In Willard Sterne Randall's biography, Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, the author sheds new light on this lesser-known hero, beginning with the launch of a critical mission: seize cannons from two British strongholds and bring them to Boston to aid the Patriots' defense, which lead to the capture of Fort Ticonderoga.

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March 25, 2014

Forgotten Allies

During the fight for American Independence, the native nations of eastern North America found themselves caught between "two brothers of one blood"—the British and the Patriots. Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin's book, Forgotten Allies, recounts how Oneida tribal members found themselves facing increasing pressure to choose sides as the Anglo-American conflict intensified.

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