Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere's Ride

4.6 21
by David Hackett Fischer, Fischer

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Paul Revere's midnight ride is a legendary event in American history - yet it has been largely ignored by scholars, and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious study of this event - what led to it, what really happened, what followed - uncovering a truth more remarkable than the many myths it has… See more details below


Paul Revere's midnight ride is a legendary event in American history - yet it has been largely ignored by scholars, and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious study of this event - what led to it, what really happened, what followed - uncovering a truth more remarkable than the many myths it has inspired. In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer has created an exciting narrative that offers new insight into the coming of the American Revolution. From research in British and American archives, the author unravels a plot that no novelist would dare invent - a true story of high drama and deep suspense, of old-fashioned heroes and unvarnished villains, of a beautiful American spy who betrayed her aristocratic British husband, of violent mobs and marching armies, of brave men dying on their doorsteps, of high courage, desperate fear, and the destiny of nations. The narrative is constructed around two thematic lines. One story centers on the American patriot Paul Revere; the other, on British General Thomas Gage. Both were men of high principle who played larger roles than recent historiography has recognized. Thomas Gage was not the Tory tyrant of patriot legend, but an English Whig who believed in liberty and the rule of law. In 1774 and 1775, General Gage's advice shaped the fatal choices of British leaders, and his actions guided the course of American events. Paul Revere was more than a "simple artizan," as his most recent biographer described him fifty years ago. The author presents new evidence that revolutionary Boston was a world of many circles - more complex than we have known. Paul Revere and his friend Joseph Warren ranged more widely through those circles than any other leaders. They became the linchpins of the Whig movement. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere played that role in a manner that has never been told before. He and William Dawes were not the only midnight riders to ca

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Editorial Reviews

Paul Maier
"Paul Revere's Ride" both to inform and to entertain readers as it carefully corrects old myths and introduces us anew to one of the most deceptively familiar stories of the American past. Even the appendixes are interesting. Those are reasons enough to take up Mr. Fischer's invitation, to "put Paul Revere on his horse again" and "take the midnight ride seriously as an historical event." The story he tells can stand on its own without labored sets of contingencies. -- New York Times
Library Journal
It is rare when a scholarly history will appeal to a general readership, but such is the case with this book. Part biography of Revere and part history of the battles of Lexington and Concord, it places the ``midnight ride'' in the broad context of American resistance to Great Britain as just one of many similar actions taken by Revere and others. Particularly good is Fischer's (history, Brandeis Univ.) description of the civilian reaction to the British march to Concord and his exploration of the ``spontaneous'' rising of the New England militia to fight the British. Fischer's ulterior motive is to return contingency to its central importance in the historical process--to restore the ``causal power of particular actions and contingent events.'' In the process he has written a meticulously researched and wonderfully evocative narrative that will be enjoyed by history lovers and scholars alike.-- David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
School Library Journal
YA-A whole book about a minor incident? You bet, and a terrific book, at that. Fischer's exhaustive research shows that Revere played an important role in pre-Revolutionary Boston that included, but was by no means limited to, his midnight ride. The author shows how Longfellow's poem deliberately distorted the facts in order to suit the political climate of the times; the real story surrounding Revere's role and the battles of Concord and Lexington is infinitely more interesting because it involves planning, courage, danger, suspense, and national destiny. This is exciting history, and Fischer adeptly paints it in stirring tones while giving background information on Revere and General Thomas Gage. For the rest of their lives, people remembered where they were when Revere made his famous midnight ride, as readers will remember this fascinating account.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Gilbert Taylor
An iconic patriot, or an insignificant courier--Fischer plays these opposing images of the Bostonian silversmith against the middle in a lively reconstruction of the man and his role in the outbreak of war on Lexington Green. Supported by meticulous research, but using a brisk pace, Fischer begins his recounting of "contingent events" with the British decision in late 1774 to seize colonial munitions. The British commander, General Gage, had mounted several raids before the fateful one on Concord; and Revere in response had galloped hither and yon, keeping his fellow Whigs alert to the next attempt to disarm them. The midnight rides (there were two other messengers besides Revere) and the bloody clashes on April 19 unfold in a volley-by-volley drama that factors in all known participants, including a few spies unknown to this day. Once celebrated as an event that galvanized, much like Fort Sumter, each side in the irreconcilable imperial/colonial dispute, Revere's period of glory has perhaps been unduly relegated to obscurity (many school texts don't mention him). This balanced recounting of his activities restores his importance--and the feel for the motivations of his compatriots and their antagonists. An enjoyable work that doesn't compromise its scholarly accuracy.
From the Publisher

"Fischer knows how to grip the reader as few historians do....Fischer succeeds brilliantly in re-creating the milieu of the 1770s."--The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

"This well-written, carefully researched, and interesting book dispels much of the myth and legend that has grown up around Paul Revere's famous ride and has replaced it with an exciting account of the events on those early spring days of April, 1775....A good read as well as an excellent reference."--KLIATT, September 1995

"In one of the best recent books on the Revolution, Fischer takes what might be the most famous episode from the war and carefully sifts accumulating legend from a substantial body of fact heretofore little recognized about the famous 'midnight right.'"--The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star

"Fischer has provided a nice update of one of the semi-mythological events associated with the American revolutionary experience. What is most impressive about the book is the scholarly apparatus indluded. Revere is now a human figure acting out an historical role without mythology to get in the way. For contextural biography, this is a first-rate volume."--Gerald Michael Schnabel, Bemidji State University

"The action in this exciting history illuminates New England's culture--especially the ways that it differed from old England's--on the eve of the American Revolution....Fischer's details are meticulous, and provide an irresistible sense of immediacy as a slumbering countryside is wakened to war."--The New Yorker

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Oxford University Press
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9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.30(d)
1280L (what's this?)

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