The bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea, Valiant Ambition, and In the Hurricane's Eye tells the story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution, in this "masterpiece of narrative and perspective." (Boston Globe)
Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord. In June, however, with the city cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the Revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists.
Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a thirty-three year old physician named Joseph Warren who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill. Others in the cast include Paul Revere, Warren’s fiancé the poet Mercy Scollay, a newly recruited George Washington, the reluctant British combatant General Thomas Gage and his more bellicose successor William Howe, who leads the three charges at Bunker Hill and presides over the claustrophobic cauldron of a city under siege as both sides play a nervy game of brinkmanship for control.
With passion and insight, Philbrick reconstructs the revolutionary landscape—geographic and ideological—in a mesmerizing narrative of the robust, messy, blisteringly real origins of America.
Like most popular historians, Philbrick writes about discrete events, not large developments. And he s good at it, even if the larger context is rarely considered and critical analysis gives way to story and celebration. Here, his focus is on events that began with the humiliations of the British at Lexington and Concord and ended with the siege of Boston, the American victory at Bunker Hill in 1775, and the departure in 1776 of British forces from New England s largest city. Philbrick correctly presents the battle at Bunker Hill as a critical moment in the opening stages of the War for Independence, and displays an empathy for the out-maneuvered British caught in the traps that the Patriots laid for them. He wisely makes as one of his central figures the Patriots charismatic leader, Joseph Warren, who was killed at Bunker Hill, and who has since been largely forgotten, despite having been the man responsible for orchestrating the on-the-ground reality of a revolution. Philbrick tells his tale in traditional fashion briskly, colorfully, and with immediacy. The book would have benefited from a point of view more firmly grounded in a contemporary evaluation of the battle, but even as it is no one has told this tale better.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Terrific read. Philbrick writes history as if it were a novel, bringing historical events and personalities to vivid life. This book grabbed me from the opening pages and never let up. This is historical writing at it's finest. If you have any interest in our country's formative years (and even if you don't), this is a captivating read.
Don't read this book for a well crafted history of the beginning of the American Revolution in and around Boston in 1775-76. This is a historical novel. There are so many references to who was sleeping around, where they hid their mistresses, what personal angst may or may not have affected George Washington. It's history as reported by the "National Inquirer" vs. "The New York Times". If you want insight into the British experience during the revolution read the far better "Fusiliers" by Mark Urban.
What Really Happened ?
Another "Argo" made up drama with histrionics, not history. Far to many of these new historical / fictions are been written like screenplays with hopes of, or already sold as movies scripts. The real facts are changed or ignored all in the name "making it interesting" and most of all sellable.