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The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (2019)

by Rick Atkinson

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9963421,193 (4.43)37
History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:

Winner of the George Washington Prize
Winner of the Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History
Winner of the Excellence in American History Book Award
Winner of the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award
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From the bestselling author of the Liberation Trilogy comes the extraordinary first volume of his new trilogy about the American Revolution
Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy he recounts the first twenty-one months of America's violent war for independence.
From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world's most formidable fighting force. It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.
Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country's creation drama.

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
(2019) Very good history of the 1st 2 years of the American Revolution. This is the first of a planned trilogy about the Revolution. Very well written but a slow read due to the font and format of the book. Looking forward to the subsequent volumes.KIRKUS REVIEWThe Pulitzer Prize?winning historian shifts his focus from modern battlefields to the conflict that founded the United States.Atkinson (The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945, 2013, etc.) is a longtime master of the set piece: Soldiers move into place, usually not quite understanding why, and are put into motion against each other to bloody result. He doesn't disappoint here, in the first of a promised trilogy on the Revolutionary War. As he writes of the Battle of Bunker Hill, for instance, ?Charlestown burned and burned, painting the low clouds bright orange in what one diarist called ?a sublime scene of military magnificence and ruin,' ? even as snipers fired away and soldiers lay moaning in heaps on the ground. At Lexington, British officers were spun in circles by well-landed shots while American prisoners such as Ethan Allen languished in British camps and spies for both sides moved uneasily from line to line. There's plenty of motion and carnage to keep the reader's attention. Yet Atkinson also has a good command of the big-picture issues that sparked the revolt and fed its fire, from King George's disdain of disorder to the hated effects of the Coercive Acts. As he writes, the Stamp Act was, among other things, an attempt to get American colonists to pay their fair share for the costs of their imperial defense (?a typical Americanpaid no more than sixpence a year in Crown taxes, compared to the average Englishman's twenty-five shillings?). Despite a succession of early disasters and defeats, Atkinson clearly demonstrates, through revealing portraits of the commanders on both sides, how the colonials ?outgeneraled? the British, whose army was generally understaffed and plagued by illness, desertion, and disaffection, even if ?the American army had not been proficient in any general sense.? A bonus: Readers learn what it was that Paul Revere really hollered on his famed ride.A sturdy, swift-moving contribution to the popular literature of the American Revolution.Pub Date: May 14th, 2019ISBN: 978-1-62779-043-7Page count: 800ppPublisher: Henry HoltReview Posted Online: Feb. 27th, 2019Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019
  derailer | Jan 25, 2024 |
Rick Atkinson’s first of a projected 3-volume history of the American Revolution is notable if for nothing else than the stream of highly entertaining character assassinations, most particularly, those of the British political and military leadership.

He spends a lot of time filling in the nitty-gritty of warfare, how the common man experiences the effects of decisions from the top. Not unlike his earlier trilogy on WWII, the Liberation Trilogy.

Smallpox. Dysentery. Gangrene. Death and dismemberment by flying canon balls. War in the late 18th century could be pretty grim. And when their enlistments ran out, the Americans who managed to survive went home.

He doesn’t spend too much time on the causes of the war, just enough to make us revisit the premise of the war: that the colonies had enough of the tyranny of George III.

When George was read the Declaration of Independence by one of his ministers his first reaction was “I hope they get as good a government as the one they are abandoning.”

George’s predecessors had spent a lot of money creating the British Empire by defeating the French in India, in N. America, the Caribbean, and in Europe. It made the Empire the biggest trading block for its time anywhere.

Leaving the British Empire at that point of time might have seemed a touch rash. Things were going to get a lot better.

And while the Americans did their share of the fighting, the 13 colonies had done very well in the run up to the dispute over tea and taxes and representation.

From 1700-1775 the economies of the colonies grew 12-fold, largely due to population growth. After the break with Great Britain the Industrial Revolution gave a land rich in iron, coal, and later petroleum a head start on many other parts of the world including Africa, China, much of East Asia and Eastern Europe.

What should not be forgotten here as well is that capital growth in America got going with major investments from the Europeans, including the House of Rothschild, Morgan and Barings in London, and many others.

Did America get a better government, along with the capital and migrant brains of Europe?

If they did they sure didn’t get it right away. The Declaration of Independence didn’t give them any real national government in 1776 and the Constitution came years later after painful civil war.

Along with its representative form of government America was going to grow anyway, with the help of a bankrupt Napoleon (the Louisiana Purchase), because slaveholders coveted Mexican land in Texas, and with the help of federally-subsidized railways to the west. There was big money to be made along the way.

But again to the question: did America get a better government? They certainly got the direct form of representation they lacked as a colony which was better than they had before. But did their form of direct representation get them better government?

1) Recent attempts by Democrats to prevent the White House from thwarting its will suggest this government is not as good.

2) The Civil War less than 100 years after Independence again shows the government weaker than the previous or at least as ineffective at curbing civil disobedience.

3) England abandoned slavery without a civil war. America did not.

4) England’s polity allowed for the creation of the European Union after the age of empire. In America’s system sovereignty trumps international cooperation.

5) England is paralyzed over the question of when is it a good time to leave Europe. America has no such crisis.

6) Neither government was very good at reparations for genocidal wars (America against First Nations, or freed blacks; Great Britain against the Mau-Mau Rebelion.)

7) For better or worse the US presidency is a more dynamic executive branch than the British Cabinet. Mobilizing for war and mobilizing for peace it’s hard to argue that the British executive branch was more effective than the American during and in the aftermath of WWII.

8) Are civil rights and protections under the US Constitution any more effective than British protections? That’s a much tougher question that I’ll put to Quora one of these days.

On balance, it is arguable that America did not get a better form of government. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Author Rick Atkinson can hang his hat on another work of history that does the times and events justice. "The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777" volume one of a three volume series presents us and even-handed look at the Revolutionary War from not just the American perspective, but also the British side of things which does not happen as often as we should wish. From the preamble through the battles of Trenton and Princeton in the winter of 1777.
Atkinson does a good job laying things out for the reader/listener, he uses many different primary sources and weaves the tale alternating between the American and the British side of things fluidly.
The issues that I had with this title are personal in nature. The reader, George Newbern, can read words splendidly, but reading them in a captivating and dramatic fashion do not seem to be his strong suit. Atkinson's writing is more scholarly in nature than popular which can make the writing and listening more difficult to really get into. Everything just seemed real stiff, which doesn't make it bad, it just makes it not great...
Will I read/listen to the next two volumes when they come out? Boy that is the ultimate question when finishing the a first volume. Was it good enough to keep you into it. Well, as I said earlier, it did the events and time justice, did it do it well enough to get me to come back to the table for more. I think so. Would I recommend it to others? I would recommend it, but only to those who have an affinity for the American revolutionary war or those hardcore history people. I give it a three star rating. ( )
  Schneider | Oct 3, 2023 |
The author's industry and interests have produced a remarkable history, just as it did in his Liberation Trilogy, in this first volume of a planned three-volume history of the Revolutionary war. I have read other histories of this war, but Atkinson's concerns including, for example, the rebel's difficulty in acquiring gun powder, the effect of smallpox, the absence of appropriate clothing and footwear, the changing affiliations of the citizenry, and the British difficulties of feeding thousands of troops with a supply chain across the Atlantic, all have resulted in an absorbing history that is unusually good at providing the reader with an immediate experience. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Manages to convey the era and the battles well. The hardships and brutal conditions these people went through. ( )
  charlie68 | Apr 16, 2023 |
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Epigraph
The hour is fast approaching on which the honor and success of this army and the safety of our bleeding country depend. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are freemen, fighting for the blessings of liberty.
   -- George Washington, General Orders, August 23, 1776
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To Jane, for forty years
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At three-thirty a.m. on June 22, 1773, fifteen minutes before sunrise, a royal chaise pulled by four matched horses burst from the gates of Kew Palace, escorted by cavalry outriders in scarlet coats.
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History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:

Winner of the George Washington Prize
Winner of the Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History
Winner of the Excellence in American History Book Award
Winner of the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award

From the bestselling author of the Liberation Trilogy comes the extraordinary first volume of his new trilogy about the American Revolution
Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy he recounts the first twenty-one months of America's violent war for independence.
From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world's most formidable fighting force. It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.
Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country's creation drama.

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