REVOLUTIONARY SUMMER by Joseph J. Ellis
Kirkus Star

REVOLUTIONARY SUMMER

The Birth of American Independence

KIRKUS REVIEW

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Ellis (First Family: Abigail and John Adams, 2010, etc.) writes book after book on the American Revolutionary period. Practice makes perfect.

The author’s latest alternates between 1776 colonial politics during which the Continental Congress, dominated by John Adams, finally put aside efforts at compromise and opted for independence and the fighting where George Washington’s army marched from triumph in the siege of Boston to catastrophe in New York. Ellis delivers few surprises and no cheerleading but much astute commentary. He points out with no small irony that the Continental Congress was at its best in 1776 when thoughtful men debated the benefits of liberty versus the consequences of war with the world’s most powerful nation and came to the right decision. Only in the following years, faced with governing the colonies and supplying the army, did it reveal its incompetence. When British forces withdrew from Boston in March, colonial rebels declared a great victory, but Washington worried. Sieges and fighting behind fortifications (i.e., Bunker Hill) were simple compared with standard 18th-century warfare, which required soldiers to maneuver under fire and remain calm amid scenes of horrific carnage. He suspected that his largely untrained militia army would do badly under these circumstances, and events in New York proved him right. Luckily, British Gen. William Howe, despite vastly superior forces, refused to deliver a knockout blow. He would never get another chance.

Kevin Phillips’ 2012 tour de force, 1775, delivered a massive argument for that year as the key to American independence. A traditionalist, Ellis sticks to 1776 and writes an insightful history of its critical, if often painful, events.

Pub Date: June 4th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-70122-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2013




BEST BOOKS OF 2013 ABOUT AMERICAN HISTORY:

Nonfiction FINDING FLORIDA by T.D. Allman
by T.D. Allman
Nonfiction YEAR ZERO by Ian Buruma
by Ian Buruma
Nonfiction JFK'S LAST HUNDRED DAYS by Thurston Clarke
by Thurston Clarke

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for FLASH BOYS
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for DESTROYER ANGEL
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for WARRIORS
VERDICT:
BORROW IT

MORE BY JOSEPH J. ELLIS

NonfictionHIS EXCELLENCY by Joseph J. Ellis
by Joseph J. Ellis
NonfictionFOUNDING BROTHERS by Joseph J. Ellis
by Joseph J. Ellis
NonfictionAMERICAN SPHINX by Joseph J. Ellis
by Joseph J. Ellis

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

Nonfiction1775 by Kevin Phillips
by Kevin Phillips
NonfictionCONSTELLATION OF GENIUS by Kevin Jackson
by Kevin Jackson
Nonfiction1776 by David McCullough
by David McCullough