The Early Years of the American Revolution Reading List

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 2:54pm -- jrusnak

     The defining moment for our country was the American Revolution. A loose coalition of former colonies successfully overthrow a much stronger empire, the first time such an action happened against Great Britain and cementing in world history the rise of the United States of America. Come down to the Redwood Library to check out one of the books below and learn more about the early years of the Revolution when most were still unsure if the great American experiment would even get started.



Paul Revere's Ride

by David Hackett Fischer

     Paul Revere's midnight ride looms as an almost mythical event in American history--yet it has been largely ignored by scholars and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious look at the events of the night of April 18, 1775--what led up to it, what really happened, and what followed--uncovering a truth far more remarkable than the myths of tradition.



The Nineteenth of April, 1775

by Harold Murdock

     First published in the early 1920s, this study by a professional historian was the first to present a complete reconstruction of the day which saw the beginning of the American Revolution, and remains unparalleled for its record of the events, large and small, that took place. The work drew on both British and American sources and offered some favorable reflections on the British conduct of the encounter as well as the retreat to Charlestown.



Bunker Hill: a City, a Siege, a Revolution

by Nathaniel Philbruck

     Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a thirty-three year old physician named Joseph Warren who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill. Others in the cast include Paul Revere, Warren’s fiancé the poet Mercy Scollay, a newly recruited George Washington, the reluctant British combatant General Thomas Gage and his more bellicose successor William Howe, who leads the three charges at Bunker Hill and presides over the claustrophobic cauldron of a city under siege as both sides play a nervy game of brinkmanship for control.



Decisive Day: The Battle of Bunker Hill

by Richard Ketchum

     Boston, 1775: A town occupied by General Thomas Gage's redcoats and groaning with Tory refugees from the Massachusetts countryside. Besieged for two months by a rabble in arms, the British decided to break out of town. American spies discovered their plans, and on the night of June 16, 1775, a thousand rebels marched out onto Charlestown peninsula and began digging a redoubt (not on Bunker Hill, which they had been ordered to fortify, but on Breeds Hill, well within cannon shot of the British batteries and ships). At daybreak, HMS Lively began firing. It was the opening round of a battle that saw unbelievable heroism and tragic blunders on both sides (a battle that marked a point of no return for England and her colonies), the beginning of all-out war.




With Fire and Sword

by James Nelson

     In this book, award-winning author James L. Nelson tells the exciting and dramatic story of the fight that changed the face of the American Revolution. He looks at the events leading up to that fateful day, the personalities on both the British and American sides who made momentous decisions, and the bloody outcome of those crucial choices, which would affect the British strategy on the battlefield throughout the coming six more years of active warfare.



Whites of Their Eyes: Bunker Hill, the First American Army, and the Emergence of George Washington

by Paul Douglas Lockhart

     Drawing upon new research and scholarship, historian Paul Lockhart, author of the critically acclaimed Revolutionary War biography The Drillmaster of Valley Forge, offers a penetrating reassessment of the first major engagement of the American Revolution. In the tradition of David McCullough’s 1776,Lockhart illuminates the Battle of Bunker Hill as a crucial event in the creation of an American identity, dexterously interweaving the story of this pivotal pitched battle with two other momentous narratives: the creation of America’s first army, and the rise of the man who led it, George Washington.



The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord

by Ray Raphael

     Ray Raphael's The First American Revolution, uses the wide-angle lens of a people's historian to tell a surprising new story of America's revolutionary struggle. In the years before the battle of Lexington and Concord, local people--men and women of common means but of uncommon courage--overturned British authority and declared themselves free from colonial oppression, with acts of rebellion that long predated the Boston Tea Party. In rural towns such as Worcester, Massachusetts, democracy set down roots well before the Boston patriots made their moves in the fight for independence. Richly documented, The First American Revolution recaptures in vivid detail the grassroots activism that drove events in the years leading up to the break from Britain.



The Many Rides of Paul Revere

by James Giblin     

Paul Revere is commonly remembered in the Longfellow legend of his Midnight Ride before the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord. In this bright, informative biography, Giblin follows Revere's life from his humble beginnings as a French immigrant's son to his work as a silversmith and a horse messenger amid the mounting pressures of revolution. In precise, accessible prose, Giblin chronicles Revere's daring acts -- both the famous and the overlooked. Along the way, he portrays a brave, compassionate, multitalented American patriot.


Now We Are Enemies

by Thomas Fleming

     The Battle of Bunker Hill was the crossing of a line. It was the last moment when matters could conceivably be resolved. This was where it ceased to be a local discontent and became a civil war. This book gives the story of the people who took part in it. On the American side there are heroes like Putnam, the bluff and honest frontier soldier, and the saintly Dr. Warren. There are also heroes on the British side like Pitcairn with his courtesy and all-to-rare noblest oblige toward his men, and Howe, the old-school warrior from an old-school warrior family. We are also shown the nervous bewildered militiamen who that day received the baptism of fire that would make them the core of the Continental Army. Including the ironically incompetent artillerymen whom none would have suspected would be the spiritual ancestors of America's great gunners that have been the terror of her foes on many a field. And the infantry hovering on the edge of running, yet somehow managing to stand, and stand, and stand. We also meet the common British soldiery, with their colorful customs and generations-old traditions. 


The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

by  William H. Hallahan

     At four in the morning on April 19, 1975, a line of British soldiers stared across the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts, at a crowd of seventy-seven American militiamen. A shot rang out, and the Redcoats replied with a devastating volley. But the day that started so well for the king's troops would end in catastrophe: seventy-three British soldiers dead, two hundred wounded, and the survivors chased back into Boston by the angry colonists. Drawing on diaries, letters, official documents, and memoirs, William H. Hallahan vividly captures the drama of those tense twenty-four hours and shows how they decided the fate of two nations.



George Washington's America: a Biography Through his Maps

by Barnett Schecter

     From his teens until his death, the maps George Washington drew and purchased were always central to his work. After his death, many of the most important maps he had acquired were bound into an atlas. The atlas remained in his family for almost a century before it was sold and eventually ended up at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library. Inspired by these remarkable maps, historian Barnet Schecter has crafted a unique portrait of our first Founding Father, placing the reader at the scenes of his early career as a surveyor, his dramatic exploits in the French and Indian War (his altercation with the French is credited as the war's spark), his struggles throughout the American Revolution as he outmaneuvered the far more powerful British army, his diplomacy as president, and his shaping of the new republic.


 And for those who prefer to listen to their books while driving:

1775: A Good year for Revolution (Audio)

by Kevin Phillips

     In 1775, iconoclastic historian and bestselling author Kevin Phillips punctures the myth that 1776 was the watershed year of the American Revolution. He suggests that the great events and confrontations of 1775—Congress’s belligerent economic ultimatums to Britain, New England’s rage militaire, the exodus of British troops and expulsion of royal governors up and down the seaboard, and the new provincial congresses and hundreds of local committees that quickly reconstituted local authority in Patriot hands­—achieved a sweeping Patriot control of territory and local government that Britain was never able to overcome.  These, each added to the Revolution’s essential momentum so when the British finally attacked in great strength the following year, they could not regain the control they had lost in 1775.