Read the Revolution

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

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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January 28, 2014

Women in Battle

While countless stories recount the heroics of men who fought for American independence, far fewer chronicle the equally heroic actions of the women who served during the Revolutionary War. In Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts offers a comprehensive look at the many roles women played in the war, including soldiers, spies, nurses, and cooks.

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January 14, 2014

The Fourteenth Colony

In The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony, author Mark R. Anderson explores the Quebec Campaign of 1775-1776. At this time, the American colonists were attempting to bring Canada into the Continental confederation, first through political appeals and eventually by force.

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December 31, 2014

The Secret Six

General Washington's military strategy was carried out not only on battlefields, but in the realm of intelligence and counterintelligence. At the heart of these operations was a six-person group called the Culper Spy Ring, whose history has recently been documented in Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger's book George Washington's Secret Six.

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December 17, 2013

Turning Point

The Journal of the American Revolution is an online magazine featuring historical content its founder describes as "a business casual approach to scholarship." The best of its offerings were recently compiled and published as a hardcover book. This excerpt, from an article by Thomas Fleming, reveals a turning point for General George Washington, when a string of losses set tongues wagging against him.

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December 2, 2013

The Original Greatest Generation

In Maureen Taylor’s The Last Muster, she compiles a rich collection of early 19th-century images of Revolutionary War veterans nearing the end of their lives. Today we feature three veterans from The Last Muster whose stories provide depth to our understanding of life during the Founding era.

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November 19, 2013

Economy Building

In Financial Founding Fathers, authors Robert E. Wright and David J. Cowen reveal America's precarious financial state during the war, and how men like Robert Morris and Haym Solomon not only stabilized the nascent nation but helped lay the foundation for the economic superpower it became.

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November 5, 2013

Revolutionary Characters

In Gordon Wood's book Revolutionary Characters, he proclaims Thomas Paine to be "America's First Public Intellectual." In this excerpt, Dr. Wood parses Paine's famous pamphlet Common Sense to explain the philosophical origins of his radical thinking.

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October 22, 2013

An Unexpected Gift

In Jodi Daynard's novel The Midwife's Revolt, main character Lizzie Boylston inhabits a richly-imagined world of women enduring the tumultuous years of the American Revolution. The book opens with Lizzie confronting the harsh reality of widowhood after the death of her husband in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

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October 8, 2013

A Confession

After Benedict Arnold officially took up arms with the British in the fall of 1780, he made a public declaration explaining his reasons for this change in loyalty. The text is included in The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence, a compendium of letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, and public documents from the era.

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