SOCIAL SCIENCES

Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence

Knopf. Jun. 2013. 240p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780307701220. $26.95. HIST
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From May to October 1776 the Continental Army defended New York City and the surrounding region while the Continental Congress declared American independence and struggled to govern a group of noncohesive, autonomous states. With revolutionary-period expertise and extensive knowledge of the founders, Ellis (lecturer, Commonwealth Honors Coll., Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; Founding Brothers) contends that American independence was born during this "long summer." He artfully documents the interconnectivity between largely improvised political and military events and discusses the motives and strategies of key players in the context of 18th-century ideologies and circumstances, all of which, he argues, established the framework for the Revolutionary War. He explains Washington's ill-advised, ill-fated decision to defend New York City and environs, and Howe's unreasonable decision not to annihilate the Continental Army, which might have crushed the independence movement. These decisions resulted in a prolonged war that superior British armed forces could not win, and that determined colonials would not lose. Ellis concludes that a decade of British imperial policies, topped with sending an enormous military and naval force to New York, guaranteed British defeat by intensifying American opposition to the expanded authority of Parliament.
VERDICT This thought-provoking, well-documented historical narrative is packed with insightful analysis. It will attract general and academic readers.

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