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Books: Best Books on The American Revolution

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  • #46
    I just bought "Charging against Napoleon" by Eric Hunt. It basically is a collection of letterst and diaries by mainly three officers of the 18th Hussars during the Napoleonic wars describing their experiences, way of live, adventures and regimental rivalries and opinions. A very interesting and entertaining read


    • #47
      Originally posted by Janos View Post
      There are a lot of good books on the American Revolution, too. One of them is The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775, which does a play-by-play of the whole day (starting the night before) and then lists the days that the word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord reached the major cities of the colonies.

      Another good book, but one I have only heard (unabridged) on cassette, is Sergeant Lamb's America. In this book, an Irish conscript, who really existed, is brought to the Americas to suppress our revolution. Based on his life and historical facts, this novel provides realism for a British soldier fighting the Continentals.

      What are your favorite books on the War of the American Revolution?

      I really liked Washington's Crossing a lot. In between all my ACW reading I'm trying to decide which AmRev book to read. Besides the pretty good Osprey book, is there anything recent on Monmouth?
      I come here to discuss a piece of business with you and what are you gonna do? You're gonna tell me fairy tales? James Caan in the movie "Thief" ca 1981


      • #48
        Originally posted by steepcreek View Post
        Hands down the best book, of a battle and combat, is "Devil of a Whipping" by Lawrence Babits. Covers the Battle of the Cowpens and gives a good slice of the southern campaigns of the war - where the revolution was won!



        Agreed of Devil of a Whipping it is a great battle book. I go back and forth
        between the CW era and to the early American History about 1750-1815
        Really love studying the Southern battles during the revolution.

        General Lee These men behind you are Georgians and Virginians. They have never failed you and will not fail you here. Lee to the rear. General John B. Gordon

        May 12th 1864 In the Bloody Angle Spotsylvania C.H


        • #49
          1776 was pretty good
          "The people never have the power, only the illusion of it. And here is the real secret: they don't want it. The responsibility is too great to bear. It's why they are so quick to fall in line as soon as someone else takes charge."


          • #50
            Originally posted by Mike Duffy View Post
            I think most of my favorites have already been mentioned, but here are a few not listed yet:

            A New Age Now Begins by Page Smith. 2 vol. Huge and encyclopedic but extremely readable and well written.

            Rebels and Redcoats by Scheer and Rankin and Spirit of '76 by Henry Cammanger Steele (I think). Best for long passages from sontemporary sources

            Redcoats and Rebels by Christopher Hibbert. The British story.

            Battles of the American Revolution by Col. Henry Carrington. Written about 125 years ago, Carrington's work is still the best study of the strictly military aspects of the war.
            Can't beat Carrington for the military aspects. I would add Boatner's encyclopedia of the revolution, the best ARW encyclopedia IMHO.

            I didn't find Page Smith encyclopedic--not enough detail on the numbers, losses, OBs, etc.


            • #51
              Washington's Crossing is one of the finest pieces of history I have ever read. It's a truly great book. i Hope to write one that good some day.

              John Ferling's Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence is the best single volume military study of the war that I have yet read. I can't say enough good things about it.

              "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

              Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart


              • #52
                Forgot to mention...John Buchanan's The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas is the best study of the Southern Campaigns yet published, although I was disappointed by the lack of a detailed study of the Battle of Guilford Court House, which is one of my favorite battles.

                Babit's Devil of a Whipping is a first-rate microtactical study; you can't understand Guilford Court House without understanding Cowpens.

                "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart


                • #53
                  I have one that I recently read, that is different from most of those that you-all have mentioned.

                  Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin

                  It is about the Revolutionary War in the Mohawk Valley and the Oneidas turning against the Iroquois Confederacy. Some of them acted as scouts for Lafayette in Pennsylvania, I think it was, and he retained affection for them. When he returned to visit the US he made it a point to visit them. They were badly mistreated by the US over the course of time. I think that the enemy Senecas came out better than the Oneidas.
                  Homo homini lupus


                  • #54
                    A Good Starter Book

                    A great overview and introduction to the time period. It will whet your appetite to read more.
                    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.


                    • #55
                      THE best single-volume military history of the Revolution yet written is, without doubt, John Ferling's Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. Tremendous book. I cannot say enough good things about it.

                      Here's what I said about this book in a post to my blog last year:

                      I have just finished John Ferling’s excellent Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. Ferling is a retired professor of history, and this book is the product of a lifetime’s work on his part. And it shows.

                      This is, without doubt, one of the finest books on the American Revolution ever written. It’s a military history of the Revolution meant to be the companion volume to his A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic , which is a political history of the Revolutionary War. It covers the war completely, with enough detail to give the reader a good overview of what happened and ideas of where to look for more if that’s of interest. He focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the commanders on both sides and demonstrates rather amply that the American victory in the war was, indeed, nearly a miracle.

                      One of the things that I really appreciated about the book was how Ferling managed to place the war in North America squarely in the context of the global geopolitical situation. Only by seeing the entire picture can one truly understand how the chain of events that brought about the unlikely American victory over the finest standing army in the world came to pass. Few books do that, and I found Ferling’s efforts to do so to be among the most useful aspects of the analysis.

                      The central thesis of Ferling’s book is that George Washington designed and brilliantly implemented a Fabian strategy to win the war. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Fabian strategy, here’s a quick primer on it. Fabian strategy is an approach to military operations where one side avoids large, pitched battles in favor of smaller, harassing actions in order to break the enemy’s will to keep fighting and wear that enemy down through attrition. Generally, this type of strategy is adopted by smaller, weaker powers when combating a larger foe. In order for it to be successful, time must be on the side of user, which must be able to avoid large-scale actions. Also, Fabian strategy requires a strong degree of will from both politicians and soldiers, as frequent retreats and a lack of major victories can prove demoralizing.

                      Fabian strategy is named for the Roman emperor Quintus Fabius Maximus. Given the task of defeating the great Carthaginian general Hannibal in 217 BC, following crushing defeats at the Battles of Trebbia and Lake Trasimene, Fabius’ troops shadowed and harassed the Carthaginian army while avoiding a major confrontation. Knowing that Hannibal was cut off from his supply lines, Fabius instituted a scorched earth policy intended to starve Hannibal’s army into retreating. Taking advantage of shorter interior lines of communication, Fabius prevent Hannibal from resupplying his army while also inflicting several minor defeats on his army.

                      Ferling very convincingly argues that Washington came up with the idea of implementing and executing a Fabian strategy, and that, with only a couple of exceptions (most notably, the September 11, 1777 Battle of Brandywine, where he was soundly thrashed), Washington adhered to the strategy throughout the eight long years of the Revolutionary War. He also argues, again quite effectively, that Washington’s most able and most dependable subordinate, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, did an even better job of implementing the Fabian strategy to counter the British Southern Strategy. Although Cowpens was the only battle that Greene won, his tactics inflicted such heavy losses on Cornwallis’ army that he was forced to abandon the Carolinas, make for Virginia, and adopt Yorktown as his base of operations. That, in turn, made the surrender of Cornwallis’ army and the negotiated peace a foregone conclusion.

                      The book is brilliant, and I recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the Revolutionary War.
                      It can be found here:

                      "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

                      Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by HiredGoon View Post
                        David Hackett Fischer is an excellent historian who has written two excellent books on the American Revolution. Paul Revere's Ride is about the events leading up to April 19, 1775 and the battle of Lexington and Concord. His newest book is Washington's Crossing and is about the forging of the American Army, and the battles of Trenton and Princeton.

                        One can not truly understand the Revolution without a firm grasp of the Seven Years' War in North America. The best book on that subject is Crucible of War by Fred Anderson.
                        All three of these books would be my first choice.
                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                        • #57
                          Piers Mackesy's War for America:1775-1783 makes the point better than most, that for the British, the Revolution was a world war.

                          I would also agree that Ferling's Almost A Miracle is probably the essential book for the war in America.
                          "The legitimate object of war is a more perfect peace." General William T. Sherman , 20 July 1865


                          • #58
                            Very Good Reading

                            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.


                            • #59
                              Books of Richard M. Ketchum

                              Hello all... I'm new to the forums, but have been reading through various archives here and the Civil War forum lately. At the moment I've been more interested in the Revolution than anything else, so I'm glad to see there's a forum here exclusively for it.

                              At any rate, I'm wondering if any of you guys have read any of the works of Richard M. Ketchum? I know he has books on Trenton/Princeton, Saratoga and Yorktown (he may have others, but those are the three that I've seen online). I see that for the most part they've gotten fairly good reviews on Amazon, but I'd love to hear some opinions from some of you folks who may be better judges of quality on books of this sort. Thanks for any input.


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by abradley View Post
                                I like Kenneth Roberts' books on colonial and post colonial New England.

                                The two dealing with the Revolutionary War are

                                Oliver Wiswell for the Tory view.
                                Rabble in Arms for the Rebs view.
                                Arundal is the prequil to Rabble In Arms