THOSE DAMNED REBELS by Michael Pearson


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This study reconstructs the British view of the War of Independence in two ways: as factual narrative, it concentrates on British military actions, deliberations, and personnel; as interpretation it relays British attitudes, such as contempt for Sam Adams as a self-seeking rabblerouser. These attitudes are not analyzed, but chiefly presented as stage-effects or matter-of-fact interpolations. Pearson tunes in on the war as viewed in England, too, principally in the councils of state, and reproduces speeches by the Whig opposition to the war, indications of the City merchants' vigorous dissent, and maneuvers by the King and his advisors to either pacify or shout them down. George is depicted as a very sane and indeed an able administrator. Apart from the surface course of relations with France and the rebels' failure to spread their cause to Canada, one gets too little sense of how this conflict meshed with the broader concerns of Empire at this juncture -- e.g. British plans for India, which affected their American policy. Pearson hints at contemporary parallels: Burke and Fox pleading in Parliament that the war is unwinnable since the colonists' hearts and minds have been alienated, the graft and supply problems of the counterinsurgent army, and so forth. Both specialists and general readers will enjoy this book, but its perspective opens up few new conceptions about the counter-revolutionaries' actions or their self-justifications.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1971
ISBN: 0306809834
Publisher: Putnam