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A People's History of the American…

A People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped…

by Ray Raphael

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Written in easy-to-understand prose, with moderate vocabulary and captivating historic vignettes, this is a the perfect book for an introduction to the how the American Revolution affected the common people. This includes the more marginalized groups, like Women, Native Americans and African Americans. An excellent starting point for delving deeper into the struggles of the masses during the war. The book includes a plethora of quotes from first and secondary sources, and facts abound. Sometimes, the prose gets bogged down in those facts and quotes, but they help assure the reader of the through research Raphael did for this work. It is important to remember that even this is, again, only part of the story. Granted it is a side not often told, and that alone makes it worth reading, but often the choices made by those in charge make no sense to those following order. This doesn't excuse the out-come, but it behooves us to remember to read and study all sides while forming an opinion. That being said, this book is an excellent addition to a library about the American Revolution. ( )
1 vote empress8411 | Jul 28, 2016 |
Sometimes books that purport to tell the “whole story” or “the real history” turn out to be nothing but debunking books, snidely stating that what everyone knows to be is true is in fact false. Well, thankfully this isn’t one of those books. Researched as thoroughly as possible from the limited resources, Raphael tells the interesting stories of the common people in the war for independence. From hungry and underpaid soldiers, to women, to Indians caught up in the middle of a civil war, to loyalists and many who switched sides numerous times to gain the best advantage. Everyone who participated in the war had their own reasons beyond mere “taxation without representation.” In fact, in some ways the revolution became more tyrannical than the parliament they sought to replace.

“’The Rascally Stupidity which now prevails in the Country at large is beyond all description … I despise my Countrymen, I wish I could say I was not born in America, I once gloried in it but am now ashamed of it…’” Lieutenant Colonel Ebenezer Huntington after suffering from economic collapse and war profiteering while in the Continental Army (p. 91)

“By treating all residents as American rebels, the occupying army made a false assumption come true. “Instead of destroying the Revolution,” states historian Joseph Tiedemann, “the British army became one of its agents.” (p. 174)

“The harsh treatment of loyalists during the Revolutionary period was never formally repudiated, but at least some Americans tried to prevent it from happening again. Freedom of speech, trial by jury, the right of cross-examination, prohibition against bills of attainder – these and other civil liberties, once denied to people called Tories, were guaranteed to everyone under the new federal government. American schoolchildren have always been taught that the Bill of Rights was meant to insure against the tyrannical abuses of Old World governments, but the new American states had also been abusive to basic civil liberties. Many of the Revolutionaries, once the war had ended, recoiled at the consequence of popular fury, the ‘tyranny of the majority’ they had witnessed firsthand. The War for Independence had proven that Americans needed protection – not just from kings, but from themselves.” (p. 185)

“But is not our modern vision skewed as well as we rewrite our texts to include the ‘contributions’ which African Americans made to the Revolutionary cause? This too reveals and egocentric orientation. Black patriots were not fighting in support of national independence or opposition to Parliament, and black loyalists were not endangering their lives on behalf of the king. First and foremost, African Americans of the Revolutionary era ‘contributed’ to their own quests for freedom. Everything else pales by comparison.” (p. 298).
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1 vote Othemts | Jun 25, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060004401, Paperback)

A sweeping narrative of the wartime experience, A People's History of the American Revolution is the first book to view the revolution through the eyes of common folk. Their stories have long been overlooked in the mythic telling of America's founding, but are crucial to a comprehensive understanding of the fight for independence. Now, the experiences of farmers, laborers, rank and file soldiers, women, Native Americans, and African Americans -- found in diaries, letters, memoirs and other long-ignored primary sources -- create a gritty account of rebellion, filled with ideals and outrage, loss, sacrifice, and sometimes scurrilous acts...but always ringing with truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:42 -0400)

"A People's History of the American Revolution skillfully weaves diaries, personal letters, memoirs, and other long-overlooked primary sources into a remarkable first-person account of the events leading up to and during the war. From this perspective, the long struggle for independence appears as far more than a simple fight to break from England. Rather, Raphael reveals a complex and far-flung struggle - for rights and recognition, for maintaining ways of life that were under siege, and for overturning an oppressive social order whose overlords were often those same Revolutionary leaders who were making headlines. With a simple shift of history's lens away from Revolutionary leaders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and onto the slaves they owned, the Indians they displaced, and the men and boys who did the fighting, Raphael brings us a true people's history of the Revolutionary experience."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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