Read the Revolution

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

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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March 11, 2014

The Common Cause of America

After the Boston Tea Party, the city’s inhabitants learned that fellow patriots both near and far made a spontaneous choice to stand with them, in support of “the common cause of America.” In T. H. Breen’s book The Marketplace of Revolution, he offers a look at how one city’s rebellion became an entire people’s war.

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February 25, 2014

Taking Charge

When the Continental Army was formed in 1775, George Washington wasn’t the only person being considered to lead it. In this excerpt from Stephen Brumwell’s book, George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, we learn how Washington secured this history-making post.

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February 11, 2014

A War of Personal Liberation

In 1781, a 14-year-old boy named James Forten resolved to fight for the Patriot cause. While many boys as young as James made a similar decision, Forten also happened to be African-American, born into a free black family in Philadelphia. This excerpt from Julie Winch's A Gentleman of Color reveals the wartime life of a boy who would grow up to become a prominent businessman and abolitionist—and a celebrated Patriot.

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