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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution,…
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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (1982)

by Robert Middlekauff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Oxford History of the United States (3)

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905119,748 (4.03)15
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I gave up.

I found this too dry for me to keep up with -- which is fair, because I tend to prefer narrative history. This tended toward the overexplaining side, rather than the storytelling side, which is fine for some and not for others. I'm in the others column. Ah well. ( )
  lyrrael | May 18, 2014 |
This book is an extensive recounting of the Founding of America. Middlekauff begins with background knowledge, going back to the end of the French and Indian War. He ends with a chapter on the ratification of the Constitution. He does not give lots of details about all of the battles, but this is one of the most comprehensive overviews of the War for independence that I have had the privilege of reading. ( )
  torrey23 | Jun 1, 2013 |
Robert Middlekauff’s The Glorious Cause is a splendid read about the American Revolution. His account shows that the Americans had already wrested control of most of the local government. The British governors, though formally in charge, had to rely on the local oligarchy to execute their orders. The courts ruled not based of the laws but on family and political connections. Magistrates who tried to enforce the law were bullied and terrorized. A favourite tactic was razing their homes, a sort the colonial government was unable to prevent. The Boston “massacre” actually happened because the few British soldiers sent for protection were unable to control the mob. For all practical purposes, the Americans enjoyed a de facto independence which was disturbed by the inept and unplanned British efforts to suddenly exert control over “their” colonies. The government in England proclaimed stiffer regulations but failed to provide the necessary resources to enact them. The forces provided were used counter-productively: Similar to the Americans directly financing the Taliban in Afghanistan by paying for their services, the British soldiers paid their American opponents for rent and supplies. Thus, they both fuelled and financed the conflict.

Middlekauff’s narrative of the war is well done, shifting from Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Charleston and back to Yorktown. His account of 1776 offers quite a different view on the events than the hyperpatriotic impression created by McCullough in his “1776”. Again, like the Americans in Afghanistan, the British never had sufficient boots on the ground to control all vital areas. Their interventions exhausted their strength without achieving a strategic break-through. Inept British generalship resulted in the surrender of too many armies in the American wilderness.

After the military campaigns, Middlekauff shifts back to the political discussions that finally resulted in the US constitution. It is interesting to note that it took many years and multiple attempts to create the famous document and its political trade-offs. In the end, the oligarchies that had triggered the revolution enshrined their rule and created the framework for Western expansion. Recommended. ( )
  jcbrunner | May 31, 2013 |
The Oxford history of the American Revolution – a part of their US history series.
It’s a bread and butter version with no fire or excitement and none the worse for that. The facts, in so far as they are known, the causes, in so far as they are known, and the people, in so far as we have information on their motivations and actions.

It is dispassionate, accurate and thorough in its presentation of facts. For my taste it probably gives too much information about the battles but then I’m not wild about military history and it was a war! It does not press the facts further than they will reasonably go. He presents the slide to war but shows that it was in no way inevitable and was definitely given hefty pushes by those, initially at least a small minority, who wanted a confrontation. He leaves open how many, even at the end, were committed to the cause. We certainly know of instances where the patriots organised mobs to attack individuals, burn down their houses and/or tar and feather them. Most people would keep their heads down after that. ‘British’ officials were by and large rather timid and ineffectual.

The actual war seems to have been a muddled affair with neither side covering themselves with glory. In the end the political side seems to have been the deciding issue with too few in Britain caring much either way, the French pulled in and the pro-independence Americans clearly holding the dominating position in America politically.

The closest the book comes to the legend is in its presentation of the American participants. He rather sees a halo around many of the major ones but there is no harm in that. Washington may not have been a great general or politician, for instance, but he was a decent man who kept his army going through thick and thin (mostly thin it must be said). Many of the other founding fathers were consummate, manipulative politicians so no change there either.
  Caomhghin | May 13, 2013 |
I am slowly working my way through the Oxford History of the United States, mostly by audiobook. I previously reviewed What Hath God Wrought, which covers the years from 1815-1848; at that point I decided I'd better get up to speed on the earlier years before moving on to Battle Cry of Freedom, which I own in paper format. Based on what was available from Audible, I went back to the American Revolution; next, at some point in the future, will be Empire of Liberty.

The Glorious Cause begins some years before the Revolution, giving a lot of background about George II and III, the British Parliament, the French and Indian/Seven Years' War, and the first stirrings of unrest in the American colonies. Sometimes I felt that I was learning more than I really cared to know, but this is a serious, though quite accessible, work of history. It definitely filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of the period. My junior high and high school history teachers were both Civil War enthusiasts (on opposing sides) and I didn't take U.S. history in college, so my view of the Revolution came mostly from a Landmark book (Our Independence and the Constitution, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher), Johnny Tremain (by Esther Forbes), and a few other historical novels and a PBS series. The Glorious Cause offers a much less simplified and sanitized version of events.

For instance, I hadn't known before how Boston mobs attacked the houses of officials connected to British tax policies in the 1760s. The Revolution was much longer a-brewing than I had realized.

The audio format may not have been the best for this particular book. I'll be trolling the used book sales for a paper copy. I expect there'll be diagrams and maps that will help me understand the many battles, which I find confusing at the best of times.

To sum up, this is a fine, detailed biew of the years 1757-1789 in our history and nearly everyone would learn a lot by reading or listening to it. Highly recommended. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 18, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Middlekauffprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, David M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynch, Kathleen M.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trumbull, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodward, C. VannIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 019531588X, Paperback)

Many histories of the American Revolution are written as if on stained glass, with George Washington's forces of good battling King George III's redcoat devils. The actual events were, of course, far more complex than that, and Robert Middlekauff undertakes the difficult task of separating the real from the mythic with great success. From him we learn that England taxed the colonials so heavily in an attempt to retire the massive debt incurred in defending those very colonials against other powers, notably France; that the writing of the Constitution was delayed for two years while states argued among themselves in the face of massive military losses; and that demographic shifts during the Revolution did much to increase America's ethic diversity at an early and decisive time. Vividly told, this is a superb account of the nation's founding.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically acclaimed volume - a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize - offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic." "This new edition has been revised and expanded, with fresh coverage of topics such as mob reactions to British measures before the War, military medicine, women's role in the Revolution, American Indians, the different kinds of war fought by the Americans and the British, and the ratification of the Constitution. It includes a new epilogue and an updated bibliography."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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