"THE LONG FUSE: How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785" by Don Cook

"THE LONG FUSE: How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785"

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A detailed examination of the events surrounding the American Revolution, as seen from the other side of the Atlantic. A former European correspondent for several American newspapers, Cook (Forging the Alliance: NATO 1945-1950, 1989, etc.) has mined the vast literature on the American Revolution to craft a dense, yet highly readable, narrative. Supporting the research of scholars and historians with primary sources in the form of memoirs, contemporary newspapers, letters, and speeches in the English Parliament, the author vividly recreates the diametrically opposed views of the events of 1770-85, considered a rebellion in Britain, a revolution in the colonies. Essentially a work of diplomatic history, the book also paints colorful profiles of the main characters: Among the most interesting are King George III; the array of ministers assembled around his throne, including William Pitt and Lord North; and Benjamin Franklin, fulfiller of many roles in Philadelphia, London, and Paris. Cook reproduces almost verbatim Franklin's February 13, 1766, testimony before the House of Commons about effects of the notorious 1765 Stamp Act. His comments made it clear that the colonists were strongly resistant to any new taxes being imposed from Britain, and the act was repealed in March. The debates concerning Parliament's constitutional powers over the colonies -- Edmund Burke, who favored liberty but not independence for the colonies, declared in the House of Commons that ""a great Empire and little minds go ill together"" -- are interspersed throughout the text, reminding readers how expressive the English language was in the 18th century. Delineating the political culture of corruption and bribery that pervaded London and disgusted Americans like Franklin, Cook convincingly concludes that the war was lost as much in London as on the colonial battlefields. Illuminating new perspective on an old topic.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly