As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution

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Overview

In the dramatic few years when colonial Americans were galvanized to resist British rule, perhaps nothing did more to foment anti-British sentiment than the armed occupation of Boston. As If an Enemy's Country is Richard Archer's gripping narrative of those critical months between October 1, 1768 and the winter of 1770 when Boston was an occupied town.

Bringing colonial Boston to life, Archer deftly moves between the governor's mansion and cobblestoned back-alleys as he traces the origins of the colonists' conflict with Britain. He reveals the maneuvering of colonial political leaders such as Governor Francis Bernard, Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and James Otis Jr. as they responded to London's new policies, and he evokes the outrage many Bostonians felt towards Parliament and its local representatives.

Archer captures the popular mobilization under the leadership of John Hancock and Samuel Adams that met the oppressive imperial measures—most notably the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act—with demonstrations, Liberty Trees, violence, and non-importation agreements. When the British government decided to garrison Boston with troops, it posed a shocking challenge to the people of Massachusetts. The city was flooded with troops; almost immediately, tempers flared and violent conflicts broke out. Archer's vivid tale culminates in the swirling tragedy of the Boston Massacre and its aftermath, including the trial and exoneration of the British troops involved.

A thrilling and original work of history, As If an Enemy's Country tells the riveting story of what made the Boston townspeople, and with them other colonists, turn toward revolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Archer (history, emeritus, Whittier Coll., Fissures in the Rock: New England in the Seventeenth Century) utilizes a wealth of primary sources, from diaries to depositions, to provide an edifying account of the 17-month British occupation of Boston from October 1768 to the winter of 1770. Archer states that his purpose is to examine "what decisions and events led to the military occupation of Boston, what transpired while British troops were there, and what the consequences were." Beginning with British attempts to consolidate the empire and gain revenue from the Colonies in the form of innovative taxes and concluding with a perceptive analysis of the Boston Massacre, Archer astutely delves into the milieu of a Colonial city alive with mobs, patriots, and the omnipresent British army. The uniqueness of Archer's superbly crafted tale lies in his discussion of how the politics of nonimportation polarized the elite of Boston society on the eve of revolution. VERDICT Combining engaging prose and a wealth of interesting characters, Archer has provided students and general enthusiasts alike with a concise, appealing work of first-rate scholarship.—Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
From the Publisher
"Richard Archer's book is a remarkably fresh examination of the story of the British occupation of Boston in the years before the Revolution. Its close attention to the social and economic context of the dramatic events of those years gives the book much of its richness; and its telling of the events themselves, ending with a splendid account of the Boston Massacre, is accomplished with great clarity, detail, and verve. Altogether it is a fascinating book."—Robert Middlekauff, author of The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789

"In ways that are familiar today when American forces occupy faraway lands, the British military occupation of Boston in October 1768 deeply radicalized the town's citizens. In this crisply written account, Richard Archer walks the reader through Boston's crooked streets and along the waterfront with such narrative verve that we can almost see, hear, and feel the seething tension that grew for seventeen months before the Boston Massacre. With his careful research and nose for telling detail, Archer allows us to understand why Boston led the colonies into independence."—Gary B. Nash, author of The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America

"As If An Enemy's Country provides a long-overdue explanation of how the American Revolution began. Richard Archer has connected the dots in this extraordinarily well-written, concise, thorough and engaging account of the British occupation of Boston after 1768. Archer shows how the relationships between the Boston mob and the provincial elite, among merchants, trade, and religion in Boston's unique political culture turned rebellion into Revolution. An essential book—a fascinating story well-told."—Robert Allison, author of A Short History of Boston

"Archer utilizes a wealth of primary sources, from diaries to depositions, to provide an edifying account of the 17-month British occupation of Boston from October 1768 to the winter of 1770. ... Beginning with British attempts to consolidate the empire and gain revenue from the Colonies in the form of innovative taxes and concluding with a perceptive analysis of the Boston Massacre, Archer astutely delves into the milieu of a Colonial city alive with mobs, patriots, and the omnipresent British army. The uniqueness of Archer's superbly crafted tale lies in his discussion of how the politics of nonimportation polarized the elite of Boston society on the eve of revolution. VERDICT Combining engaging prose and a wealth of interesting characters, Archer has provided students and general enthusiasts alike with a concise, appealing work of first-rate scholarship."—Library Journal, starred review

"Archer goes into [...] detail, drawing good portraits of several principals, including John Hancock and cousins John and Sam Adams."—Tampa Tribune

"A gripping narrative of the occupation of Boston."—LAmag.com, The Reading List

"[T]his is a serious historical analysis rich in details, primary sources, and the minutiae that make up our history. Excellent."—Sacramento Book Review

"Archer has done a great job describing Boston, the tension in the people, and the way the tragedy unfolds. ... I recommend [his book] to anyone interested in the events leading up to the American Revolution."—1776mag.com

"In a fresh look at the Boston Massacre, Richard Archer searches for the tie between foreign occupation and political violence."—Dissent

"A lively and sympathetic history of pre-Revolutionary Boston under British occupation." —The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199895779
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 976,786
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Archer is Professor of History Emeritus at Whittier College. He is the author of Fissures in the Rock: New England in the Seventeenth Century.

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Table of Contents

Contents
List of Illustrations
Editor's Note
Introduction
Chapter 1 GRENVILLE'S INNOVATION
Chapter 2 ON THE BRINK
Chapter 3 POWER AND THE OPPOSITION
Chapter 4 AN ACCOMMODATION OF SORTS
Chapter 5 THE TOWNSHEND BLUNDER
Chapter 6 A MOMENTOUS DECISION
Chapter 7 CAMPING ON THE COMMON
Chapter 8 OCCUPATION
Chapter 9 THE MERCHANTS AND JOHN MEIN
Chapter 10 PRELUDE TO A TRAGEDY
Chapter 11 THE MASSACRE ON KING STREET
Chapter 12 AFTERMATH
Conclusion A REVOLUTIONARY LEGACY
Acknowledgments
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Fascinating account

    Well written account gives a good feeling of actually being there in colonial Boston and experiencing the tension between the colonists and the occupying forces of the British.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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