The first exploration of the profound and often catastrophic impact the American Revolution had on the rest of the world
While the American Revolution led to domestic peace and liberty, it ultimately had a catastrophic global impact—it strengthened the British Empire and led to widespread persecution and duress. From the opium wars in China to anti-imperial rebellions in Peru to the colonization of Australia—the inspirational impact the American success had on fringe uprisings was outweighed by the influence it had on the tightening fists of oppressive world powers.
Here Matthew Lockwood presents, in vivid detail, the neglected story of this unintended revolution. It sowed the seeds of collapse for the preeminent empires of the early modern era, setting the stage for the global domination of Britain, Russia, and the United States. Lockwood illuminates the forgotten stories and experiences of the communities and individuals who adapted to this new world in which the global balance of power had been drastically altered.
University of Alabama history professor Lockwood (The Conquest of Death) places the Revolutionary War in truly global historical context. He judiciously integrates economic, political, social, and legal developments across multiple locations (with convincing sections on the conflict's aftermath in Russia, India, Africa, China, and the South Pacific) and focuses his exhaustive research on archives that include the underreported "voices of the poor, the struggles and triumphs of the common man and woman." This enables him to humanize an epic story; for example, the revolution's effects in Peru are conveyed through the experiences of Micaela Bastidas, who led a failed revolt against the Spanish Empire. Lockwood also makes connections that will be new even to readers knowledgeable about Revolutionary War history: for instance, readers may remember that Australia became a dumping ground for transported British convicts after the 13 colonies were no longer an option, but Lockwood argues that the number of convicts increased because of the growth of a criminal underclass caused by the war. Readers may be skeptical of Lockwood's implication that certain developments, such as South American colonies's struggles to gain independence, might not have happened without the American Revolution. Nonetheless, this is a breakthrough popular history, written with a novelist's eye for detail and atmosphere.