American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution

Overview

A vibrant new look at the American Revolution's first months, from the author of the bestseller The Admirals

When we reflect on our nation's history, the American Revolution can feel almost like a foregone conclusion. In reality, the first weeks and months of 1775 were very tenuous, and a fractured and ragtag group of colonial militias had to coalesce rapidly to have even the slimmest chance of toppling the mighty British Army.

AMERICAN SPRING ...

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American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution

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Overview

A vibrant new look at the American Revolution's first months, from the author of the bestseller The Admirals

When we reflect on our nation's history, the American Revolution can feel almost like a foregone conclusion. In reality, the first weeks and months of 1775 were very tenuous, and a fractured and ragtag group of colonial militias had to coalesce rapidly to have even the slimmest chance of toppling the mighty British Army.

AMERICAN SPRING follows a fledgling nation from Paul Revere's little-known ride of December 1774 and the first shots fired on Lexington Green through the catastrophic Battle of Bunker Hill, culminating with a Virginian named George Washington taking command of colonial forces on July 3, 1775.

Focusing on the colorful heroes John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry, and the ordinary Americans caught up in the revolution, Walter R. Borneman uses newly available sources and research to tell the story of how a decade of discontent erupted into an armed rebellion that forged our nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
Borneman (The Admirals) takes on the oft-examined topic of the Revolutionary War and zooms in on the events and months leading up to the rebellion—the “American” spring, as it were, of 1775, up until Monday, July 3, 1775, when George Washington officially takes command of the Continental Army. Borneman takes on this important moment in history in a broad and all-encompassing manner, providing details on both the major players and events of the time as well as the ways revolution was affecting the quotidian routine of ordinary colonial settlers. This approach gives the reader not just a comprehensive understanding of the rebels’ motives, obstacles, and overall tensions, but also makes the setting of the colonies during the spring of 1775 vivid and real to a 21st-century audience. The book aims to expand upon and illuminate current history rather than challenge traditional understandings of the era, though Borneman thoroughly acknowledges the large number of loyalist settlers, and shortcomings of the rebel movement, such as their occasional tendency toward violent protests (two aspects of history that Americans sometimes overlook). Borneman doesn’t add new angles, but his extensive coverage of the events and balanced writing style make it an enjoyable and accessible read. B&w illus. (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for American Spring:

"Likely to be one of the enduring accounts of the opening of the American Revolution.... Loaded with intriguing details, sort of historical nonpareil candies sprinkled throughout the account.... A pleasing marriage of scholarly research and approachable language."—David Shribman, Boston Globe

"Walter Borneman has written an engaging and illuminating account of some of the most critical weeks in American history. Here is how it all began." — Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

"Borneman delivers a gripping, almost moment-by-moment account of the nasty exchanges and bloody retreat of British troops followed by hundreds and then thousands of militia who camped around Boston and laid siege.... A first-rate contribution."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Praise for The Admirals:

"Superbly reported... Historian Walter R. Borneman tackles the essential question of military leadership: What makes some men, but not others, able to motivate a fighting force into battle?" — Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

"Engagingly written and deeply researched... Mr. Borneman makes it easy to understand the complex series of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers at Leyte Gulf...which is not always the case with accounts of the battle." — Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal

"The first book to deal with the four [admirals] together, focusing on their intertwined lives, friendships, and rivalries.... Very well-crafted." — John Lehman, Washington Post

"A riveting introduction to the only four men in American history to have been promoted to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet in recognition of their extraordinary feats." — The History Channel

"An epic group portrait of Nimitz, Halsey, Leahey, and King. Not since the heyday of Samuel Eliot Morison has a historian painted such a fine portrait of the five-star admirals who helped America beat Japan during the Second World War. Highly recommended!" — Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior

"They were completely different in temperament and personality, but the U.S. Navy's four five-star admirals in World War II shared a sense of vision, devotion, and courage. Walter Borneman has written a rousing tale of victory at sea." — Evan Thomas, author of The War Lovers

"This is Walter Borneman at his best. The portrait of the forgotten admiral, Leahy, is worth the whole book. But there's scarcely a page where a reader won't learn something unexpected, and occasionally shocking." — Thomas Fleming, author of Time and Tide

From the Publisher
Praise for American Spring:

"Walter Borneman has written an engaging and illuminating account of some of the most critical weeks in American history. Here is how it all began." -- Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Praise for The Admirals:

"Superbly reported... Historian Walter R. Borneman tackles the essential question of military leadership: What makes some men, but not others, able to motivate a fighting force into battle?" -- Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

"Engagingly written and deeply researched... Mr. Borneman makes it easy to understand the complex series of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers at Leyte Gulf...which is not always the case with accounts of the battle." -- Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal

"The first book to deal with the four [admirals] together, focusing on their intertwined lives, friendships, and rivalries.... Very well-crafted." -- John Lehman, Washington Post

"A riveting introduction to the only four men in American history to have been promoted to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet in recognition of their extraordinary feats." -- The History Channel

"An epic group portrait of Nimitz, Halsey, Leahey, and King. Not since the heyday of Samuel Eliot Morison has a historian painted such a fine portrait of the five-star admirals who helped America beat Japan during the Second World War. Highly recommended!" -- Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior

"They were completely different in temperament and personality, but the U.S. Navy's four five-star admirals in World War II shared a sense of vision, devotion, and courage. Walter Borneman has written a rousing tale of victory at sea." -- Evan Thomas, author of The War Lovers

"This is Walter Borneman at his best. The portrait of the forgotten admiral, Leahy, is worth the whole book. But there's scarcely a page where a reader won't learn something unexpected, and occasionally shocking." -- Thomas Fleming, author of Time and Tide

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-03-12
An extremely detailed, opinionated account of events in 1775 Massachusetts ending (despite the title) two months after the famous skirmishes in the June Battle of Bunker Hill. By that spring, American colonists had spent the previous 10 years fending off Britain's attempts to recover the ruinous costs of the French and Indian War, writes popular historian Borneman (The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King—The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea, 2012, etc.). The author accepts their time-honored protest against taxation without representation but admits that Americans paid less in taxes than Britons and had benefited greatly from the recent victory. Ironically, 150 years of Britain's benign neglect had resulted in 13 largely self-governing colonies that were disinclined to change. The most appealing figure is, oddly, British Gen. Thomas Gage (1720-1787), a longtime resident in America, who understood better than London officials how bad matters were. Pugnacious colonial militias were drilling and accumulating arms, and Boston mobs were assaulting loyalists and trashing their homes. Gage's restraint exasperated superiors in London, who, in April 1775, sent a blunt order to take action. The result was an expedition that marched all night to seize arms at Concord but stumbled on a band of armed militia in Lexington. Taking advantage of massive documentation, Borneman delivers a gripping, almost moment-by-moment account of the nasty exchanges and bloody retreat of British troops followed by hundreds and then thousands of militia who camped around Boston and laid siege. Fed up with Gage, Britain dispatched three generals, William Howe, John Burgoyne and Henry Clinton, who launched their career-ruining missions in North America by overseeing the debacle at Bunker Hill. Although Kevin Phillips (1775) and Nathaniel Philbrick (Bunker Hill) have recently trod the same ground, Borneman adds a first-rate contribution.
Library Journal
06/15/2014
Best-selling historian Borneman (Rival Rails) offers an exceptionally detailed account of the first six months of 1775, a decisive period in American history during which a decade's worth of colonial frustration with Parliament's taxation policies finally boiled over into violent rebellion. The author focuses primarily on confrontations in Lexington, Concord, Fort Ticonderoga, and Bunker Hill, the first four major clashes between the disorderly and untrained, but increasingly bold, colonial militia and the larger, better organized, and more experienced British Army. He details military and political strategies on both sides of the colonies' struggle for independence, making this contribution to the spate of popular histories on the early days of the American revolutionary period (1765–83) somewhat different from other books on the subject. American firebrands Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Ethan Allen play key roles in Borneman's balanced and thorough narrative but so do British leaders Thomas Gage, Henry Clinton, and William Howe. VERDICT This extensive but accessible popular history is similar in style and scope to Kevin Phillip's 1775 and Nathaniel Philbrick's Bunker Hill but has a greater emphasis on the British side of the Revolutionary War (1775–83) narrative. It is recommended to academic and general audiences alike. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/13.]—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316221023
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 64,235
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Borneman is the author of eight works of nonfiction, including The Admirals, 1812, The French and Indian War, and Polk. He holds both a master's degree in history and a law degree. He lives in Colorado.

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