Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Bernard Bailyn brings us a book that combines portraits of American revolutionaries with a deft exploration of the ideas that moved them and still shape our society today.
The American Revolution was far from inevitable, argues Bailyn, Harvard professor and Pulitizer Prize-winning historian ( Voyagers to the West ), who contends that ideological passion and human will tipped the scales in favor of revolt. Hastening the rupture were John Adams's conviction that British policies were evil and bankrupt Quaker corset-maker Tom Paine's aggressive attack on those who feared severing ties with Mother England. In the book's eight masterful biographical sketches, we also meet Thomas Jefferson, shedding his ``deep conventionality'' for pragmatic political decision-making, and Boston shopkeeper Harbottle Dorr, compiler of a massive, annotated dossier of newspapers and pamphlets. Four thematic essays highlight the antifederalist challenge to the Constitution and the reactionary muddle in Britain whose ``every major institution was inadequate to its task.'' History Book Club alternate.