Rise to Rebellion: A Novel of the American Revolution

Rise to Rebellion: A Novel of the American Revolution

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by Jeff Shaara

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Jeff Shaara dazzled readers with his bestselling novels Gods and Generals, The Last Full Measure, and Gone for Soldiers. Now the acclaimed author who illuminated the Civil War and the Mexican-American War brilliantly brings to life the American Revolution, creating a superb saga of the men who helped to forge the destiny of a nation.

In 1770,

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Jeff Shaara dazzled readers with his bestselling novels Gods and Generals, The Last Full Measure, and Gone for Soldiers. Now the acclaimed author who illuminated the Civil War and the Mexican-American War brilliantly brings to life the American Revolution, creating a superb saga of the men who helped to forge the destiny of a nation.

In 1770, the fuse of revolution is lit by a fateful command -- "Fire!" -- as England's peacekeeping mission ignites into the Boston Massacre. The senseless killing of civilians leads to a tumultuous trial in which lawyer John Adams must defend the very enemy who has assaulted and abused the laws he holds sacred.

The taut courtroom drama soon broadens into a stunning epic of war as King George III leads a reckless and corrupt government in London toward the escalating abuse of his colonies. Outraged by the increasing loss of their liberties, an extraordinary gathering of America's most inspiring characters confronts the British presence with the ideals that will change history.

John Adams, the idealistic attorney devoted to the law, who rises to greatness by the power of his words . . . Ben Franklin, one of the most celebrated men of his time, the elderly and audacious inventor and philosopher who endures firsthand the hostile prejudice of the British government . . . Thomas Gage, the British general given the impossible task of crushing a colonial rebellion without starting an all-out war . . . George Washington, the dashing Virginian whose battle experience in the French and Indian War brings him the recognition that elevates him to command of a colonial army . . . and many other immortal names from the Founding Family of the colonial struggle -- Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Warren, Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee -- captured as never before in their full flesh-and-blood humanity.

More than a powerful portrait of the people and purpose of the revolution, Rise to Rebellion is a vivid account of history's most pivotal events. The Boston Tea Party, the battles of Concord and Bunker Hill -- all are recreated with the kind of breathtaking detail only a master like Jeff Shaara can muster. His most impressive achievement, Rise to Rebellion reveals with new immediacy how philosophers became fighters, ideas their ammunition, and how a scattered group of colonies became the United States of America.

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Editorial Reviews

In another masterpiece sure to dazzle readers with its absorbing and historically accurate details, Jeffrey Shaara reimagines the American Revolution. This is a superb saga of the men who helped forge the destiny of the nation, from the idealistic attorney John Adams to the audacious inventor and philosopher Ben Franklin. Among Shaara's most impressive achievements, Rise to Rebellion reveals with staggering immediacy how a scattered group of colonies became the United States of America.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
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Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.64(d)

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March 5, 1770

He had been in Boston for nearly eighteen months, had come ashore with the rest of His Majesty’s Twenty-ninth Regiment after a miserable journey down from Halifax. The troops had been summoned to the boats by their commander, General Thomas Gage, had been told only that they were going to the Massachusetts colony to maintain the peace. Few had any idea how that peace might be threatened, and nearly all saw the journey as an escape from the lonely isolation of the king’s most northern port. When they finally marched out of the cramped warships, they moved into a town where the people did not welcome them, did not provide homes or hospitality. Now, after nearly two years, the conflicts between the citizens of Boston and the soldiers had become more than the unpleasant argument, the occasional barroom brawl. The discipline of the troops had begun to slip; men became frustrated by the hostility around them, the taunts and minor assaults, and when the officers were not close, many of the soldiers had begun to strike back. The citizens had responded to the anger of the troops with anger of their own, and gangs of young men armed with clubs and the occasional saber began to patrol the dark alleys outside the pubs and meeting places of the soldiers. The fights were more numerous now and were sometimes bloody. While the local magistrates were quick to arrest and prosecute, both sides protected their own, and no one had any illusion that the law could protect the innocent. Inspired by the newspapermen, who presented each incident in passionate detail, playing up the seething hostility, the citizens were more and more restless, fueling the growinganger toward the British troops. To many civilians, this military occupation was oppressive, and even those most loyal to the policies of London recognized that the presence of the troops was dangerous; with the right spark, the minor disturbances could explode into a bloody disaster.

His name was Hugh White, and he had served in the Twenty-ninth Regiment for nearly three years. He had little ambition, had no particular designs on promotion, considered the corporal above him to be a far better soldier. He rarely spoke to the officers, was not a face or a name that anyone would ever single out. But today, he had been singled out, given a job that most in his company would dread. The duty was not for punishment of some indiscreet act. It was simply his turn. And so he stood guard in front of the Custom House, shivering against the sharp cold in a small wooden guardhouse, standing sentry to a place that would rarely attract attention.

He moved around as much as the cramped space would allow, touched the walls on three sides of him, felt the rough cold wood. His fingers were numb, and he flexed them, then pushed one hand hard inside his coat. He glanced out beyond the guardhouse and saw only a few citizens moving quickly through the cold, ignoring him. He cast a glance down toward his hidden hand bulging in his coat, flexed his fingers again, worried about being seen. He thought of the drill the week before, the sergeant scolding the men to keep their decorum, maintain their dignity, especially on guard duty. That meant hands by your side. He eased his head outside the guardhouse, looked toward the doorway of the Custom House, saw no one, felt relief. Perhaps even that old sergeant would understand, he thought. It’s just too cold. He put his other hand inside the rough wool, pulled his arms up tight. He blew out a sharp breath, thinking that if he stood up stiff the way they told him to, his fingers would probably fall off.

The musket leaned up against the wall close beside him, a light glaze of frost on the black steel. The guardhouse was really only a narrow box, not much larger than an upright coffin. But it kept away the awful bite of the wind, the sharp cold that blew deep into your bones.

Early that morning, the assignment of guard duty had made him smile, and if the others laughed and teased him, he had only thought of relieving the boredom of the barracks. Now he imagined what the others were doing, playing cards, the profane talk. His father had warned him of the bad influences, and he could still see his mother’s tear-stained face, watching as her boy marched away to join this army. She didn’t want me to go, he thought. They expected me to work that land, still expect me to just come home and be a farmer, like them. They don’t know anything else. He remembered the look on their faces when he had come home, the brief visit before the Twenty-ninth had boarded the great ship to sail West. He had stood tall, waited as his father moved around him, inspecting the uniform, even touching the dull red coat, could still see his mother’s shock, her young boy now grown into this soldier. Their response had disappointed him. They had not seemed as proud as he had expected, seemed more worried instead, gave him more sharp scolding to keep himself clean, to avoid the awful deadly temptations that only a parent fears. I wish they could see me now, he thought. This is important, guarding the Custom House.

He hadn’t even been inside the building, but he knew the rumors. There was supposed to be a huge vault filled with silver, the customs duties paid by the ships as they brought their goods into the port from England or from the islands far to the south. He hoped it was true, had no reason to doubt the importance of his duty, was proud of his responsibility, guarding the king’s currency. If those chaps back in the barracks knew how much this post means to the king, they wouldn’t laugh, they’d be out here, doing the duty. He glanced at the musket, then out again to the wide street, the hard-packed ice and snow, heard the stiff breeze whistling through the cracks in the crude wooden walls of the guardhouse. He wanted to drift away, tried to imagine the scene: Private White, holding away the bandits with his bayonet, ordering the riffraff to move away, and his mind spoke out, the voice loud and firm, In the name of the king . . .

He shivered now, and the image would not stay. He wriggled his fingers again, glanced toward the street once more. The locals didn’t much care for them, he knew. He wasn’t educated in politics; few of the private soldiers were. They had been surprised at the hostility from many of the citizens, and when they had marched away from the ships, they had been told that they would have to camp on Boston Common, since there were no open doors for them in private homes. But camping outdoors in tents could be deadly through the New England winter, and the commanders had struggled frantically to find accommodations. Finally, those in the town whom the officers called Tories and who did not seem so resentful of the troops began to open their doors, leasing buildings and warehouses, some even renting out their own homes. Now two winters had passed, and the duty was mostly monotonous, painfully boring. He had spent much of his time simply standing at drill in the common, marching in formation, parading in line down the side streets. He stamped his cold feet and wondered why so many of these people hated the British so. All we do is march around.

Many of the soldiers had begun to seek part-time work in the town, some spending their off-duty hours working jobs that would ease the boredom and provide a little more cash than their low army pay. But there was resentment for that as well, the citizens protesting that the troops were taking valuable jobs badly needed by the men of Boston. It was not long before the resentment turned violent. He had seen some of the fights, most inspired by strong drink, a sudden and accidental confrontation in an alley or outside a pub. But the violence had continued to grow, the fights larger, and men on both sides had seemed to organize just a bit, small gangs of citizens and troops, both looking for some satisfaction, some way to relieve the constant hostility. He had seen the man with the bloody wound, three nights ago, the first real wound he had ever seen. He thought of the man—John Rodgers, another young private—his skull split open. The anger in the barracks had brought the officers in, stern words, threats of punishment. But even the soldiers who had not been a part of the fights knew that there would be more violence.

He had endured the insults himself, knew better than to walk the streets alone, even off duty, out of uniform. He still didn’t understand the anger. We’re just keeping the peace. He said the words again in his mind, the first orders he had heard, even before they left the ship. Keep the peace.

He moved his legs, stepped in place, tried to relieve the numbness in his feet. He leaned out past the protection of the guardhouse, felt a stiff breeze on his face, pulled back inside. It’s pretty peaceful tonight. Too cold for the officers, that’s certain. They’re all inside, probably eating their hot food. He could see the main guard building, and down the street the headquarters for His Majesty’s forces. He felt a rumble in his stomach, began to think of the supper that waited for him back in the barracks. He could use a cup of tea right now. He tried to imagine the steam rolling up on his face, but the wind suddenly blew hard against the guardhouse, and now he could hear something else, voices, shouts. He leaned outside again, saw a group of men moving in the street, turning toward the Custom House. He watched them, counted maybe a dozen, then saw more men coming around a corner a block down the street. He had been warned about the gangs, all the troops understanding that they were targets for the bands of rough young men. He shivered again, made two tight fists inside his coat, watched the men moving across the street, coming closer to the Custom House. Now the voices were clear, and he saw one man point at him, felt his heart jump in his chest. They began to move straight toward the guardhouse, straight toward him. He pulled his hands from his coat, reached down, gripped the musket, leaned it up on his shoulder. Make a good show, he thought. No one will get past. They will not dare. He watched them move closer, realized they were young, teens perhaps, saw one bend down, scooping up the snow, rolling an icy ball in his hands. There were more shouts, and suddenly the boy threw the snowball at the guardhouse. White flinched, heard the dull smack against the wall, felt his heart pounding, said aloud, “Move along now. This is no place for play.”

The faces were all looking at him, and he expected to see smiles, the playfulness of boys, but there was something new, unexpected, anger, and now more snowballs began to fly. The boys moved closer, their aim more true, and he felt a splatter of snow against his chest. The laughter came, but they did not move away, the fun was not over.

White stepped outside the cover of the guardhouse, felt his own anger rising, looked at the faces, the voices jeering, calling out to him. One boy suddenly lunged closer, and White watched his hands, expecting something, another snowball, but the boy said, “What kind of man are you? A filthy lobster-back!”

White tried to ignore the boy, glanced again at the door of the Custom House, saw the door open slightly, faces peering out, the door closing again. White began to move toward the steps at the doorway, but the boy jumped in front of him, close, reached out and grabbed at the uniform, began to shout, “Dirty lobster-back,” and White swung the musket around, the butt striking the boy’s face. The boy fell backward, a sharp cry, and now there was silence from the mob as White stared at the boy. My God, stop this. He moved up the steps of the Custom House, close to the doorway, saw the young faces watching him, could see out past the mob now, more men coming forward, older men, some in suits, staying back, watching. He felt his hands shaking, tried to grip the musket, shouted, “Leave this place! Move away!”

The injured boy was crying, shrieking, “You dirty scoundrel! I’ll see you dead!”

The voices began to answer, more curses, the boys moving closer again. The snowballs resumed, hitting the door of the Custom House, and suddenly something dark flew past his head, a thick piece of wood, making a sharp cracking sound against the wooden door behind him. He shouted again, “Back! Stay back!”

He could feel his hands shaking, the icy numbness giving way to a rising wave of fear. The jeers from the mob were growing louder, and the officer’s words suddenly came to him again: Keep the peace. He clamped the musket under one arm, his hands still shaking, reached inside the cartridge box at his waist. He felt the stiff paper with his numb fingers, fought through the pounding in his chest, the training taking hold, the fear giving way to the deliberate motion. He tore at the tip of the paper cartridge, poured powder into the pan at the breech, clamped down the lock. He set the butt of the musket down on the step, slowly slid the cartridge into the barrel of the musket, prodded it down the long barrel with the ramrod. Now he pulled out the bayonet, slid it hard on the barrel, a sharp twist, and lowered the barrel, pointed it out toward the crowd. His heart was racing, and he felt a surge of strength, the fear growing into raw excitement. He expected to see the fear in their faces, the respect for the soldier with the loaded musket, the great strength of the army, but the voices were louder still, and now another stick struck the door behind him. He could see more sticks, the crowd moving slowly forward, one voice shouting, “Shoot us! Go ahead, shoot us! You coward! Shoot us and be damned!”

From the Audio Cassette edition.

Copyright 2002 by Jeffrey M. Shaara

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A rousing novel recounting the events that led to the Declaration of Independence.”
—The Washington Times

—The New York Post

“A PANORAMA OF EVENTS, MOTIVATIONS, AND EMOTIONS . . . By telling the story of the American republic through this compressed cast of characters, [Shaara] creates an easy intimacy. . . . Here the chief eyes through which Shaara portrays history belong to Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, and the commander of British forces in the colonies, Gen. Thomas Gage. . . . The binding threads of Shaara’s story are the insights he adds, through imagination and research, into the personalities that shaped events. . . . Engaging.”
—The Christian Science Monitor

—St. Petersburg Times

“SHAARA’S BEST BOOK SINCE GODS AND GENERALS . . . A compelling, finely researched work that brings readers a better understanding of the men, events, and times that led to American independence . . . A book that may be fiction but is so well-researched that it will enhance anyone’s understanding of those revolutionary times and events. For Jeff Shaara, it is a battle well-won.”
—Greensboro News & Record

—Library Journal

“Shaara artfully blends ‘story’ and ‘history.’ His novels about the Civil War, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, brought that seminal conflict to life as few works of fiction have. He now applies the same eye for character and detail to the period leading up to the first year of the Revolutionary War. . . . If you want a very readable refresher on what lies behind the Fourth of July, here’s your book.”
—The Christian Science Monitor

“The dialogue is crisp, sounds authentic, rings true. . . . The problem with historical fiction is that the reader already knows how the story will end, so the best writers provide something more, retelling the story as the participants themselves experienced it. In this Shaara excels. . . . A splendid account of the hardening of a people who believed in an idea worth risking the loss, in their words, of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.”
—Trenton Times

“Good historical fiction . . . [A] cast featuring John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and British commander Thomas Gage has inspired Shaara to produce lively text. Some passages are frankly magnificent.”
Morning Star-Telegram (Ft. Worth, TX)

“Masterful . . . Once more breathing vigor and passion into the dusty annals of history, [Jeff Shaara] demonstrates an ever-growing level of literary competence in the first installment of his projected two-volume saga of the American Revolution. . . . Richly embroidered with portraits of such heroes as Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Thomas Jefferson, the tapestry chronicles America’s plunge toward liberty.”
Publishers Weekly

“Sweeping and turbulent, Rise to Rebellion rarely fails to satisfy the reader who appreciates historical fiction done with style, accuracy, sensitivity, and analytical skill. If there were questions about whether Shaara would live up to his literary pedigree, this should be the book to finally silence the doubters.”

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Rise to Rebellion: A Novel of the American Revolution 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a high school teacher, and I can say that Rise to Rebellion is among the best and most thorough and captivating history novels I have read. It conveys the events leading up to 1776 through the eyes of the major historical figures of the time -- Franklin, Washington, Gage, Howe, Adams (both of them), King George, and so on. It's historical accuracy is accutely maintaned as the author successfully transports the reader into the social and political dynamics of the period. It will enable students and non-students alike to truly get to know the key figures in American history. A quick read, despite the nearly 500 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-This is an exciting and insightful look into history that reads like a thriller novel drawing the reader into the story. And despite knowing the outcome you will find yourself wondering at the climax at the close of each chapter. -A very unique perspective in that not just one side of the story is told. Instead, the reader is involved with most of the major players. -This is a great book and the first half of the story. The second book that completes the story is The Glorious Cause which is just as well written.
BoatingBug More than 1 year ago
In this book the author takes the reader from the early days of the colonies rejection to British rule through the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He covers numerous characters that were critical and some that played a supportive role in the founding of the USA, e.g., George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and some of the British generals. The author is very detailed in giving his view as to the thinking and emotions of the cast of characters in the book. The book was easy to follow and it provided a number of insights in the many historical figures that were active during the Revolutionary War. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Shaara knows his stuff.
Woodcutter38 More than 1 year ago
Very impressed with the amount of research that was required to put you in the minds of these characters.
Longstreet More than 1 year ago
I didn't realize how little I knew about the founding of my country until I read this book. Shaara's ability to make a novel both informative and entertaining his second-to-none. Shaara makes you feel like you're with these men as they struggle to lead America to Independence. Unlike most of his novels, this one features little war and fighting, and deals more with the "rise to rebellion". I find the political intrigue and details behind what lead us to break away from Britain equally as fascinating as the war itself. But, if you want fighting, you may be a little disappointed. Told through the eyes of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and George Washington, you gain a new appreciation for each of these men. I also found Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren to be fascinating men as well. Read about how these men had to battle and persuade their own countrymen that independence was the only course of action before they could truly battle Britain. This book will give you a new appreciation for the men who founded this country. It's hard for me to rank Shaara's books, but I'm doubtful that I'll read a series of books on any other war/conflict that will be as good as these two book on the revolution.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you walked up to the average American standing on the street and asked them on what date The Declaration of Independence was signed the most likely answer you would get is ¿Everyone knows that, July 4th, 1776.¿ Or try asking him ¿Which hill was the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on?¿ I¿ll give you a hint¿ it wasn¿t on Bunker Hill. The fact is that many Americans carry around these types of iconic myths regarding the era of the American Revolution. Jeff Shaara¿s fourth novel, ¿Rise to Rebellion,¿ the first of two books to cover the period of the American Revolution, dispels many of these myths. Spanning six and a half years, beginning with the Boston Massacre on March 5th, 1770 and ending with the signing of the Declaration of Independence on August 2nd, 1776, Mr. Shaara follows the lives such noted historical personalities as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John and Abigail Adams, George Washington, Thomas Gage, Thomas Hutchinson, John Dickinson, Thomas Paine and John Hancock as they struggle to further their causes, both for and against, the independence of the American colonies from the rule of the British crown. Once again, using his father, Michael Shaara¿s, tried and true method of multiple view points we view events such as the Boston Tea Party, The Battles of Lexington & Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill through the eyes of the characters who participated in the actual historical events. The genius of the Shaara formula lies not only within the shifting viewpoints but in the balanced approach to the material, not only concentrating on the American point of view, but also that of the British. He also shows the military struggle between the two sides and the political and diplomatic struggles of both sides as well - most notably following Benjamin Franklin as he navigates the stormy political seas of the British Parliament and the royal court of King George III. To balance military, political, diplomatic and social history is a difficult task and yet Shaara has succeeded masterfully at it. However the one drawback of ¿Rise to Rebellion,¿ and one that I fear Jeff Shaara will never break free of, is that of the formulaic structure of the book itself. Alas it is the alternating, multiple viewpoint structure that he inherited from his father, Michael Shaara, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning, The Killer Angels. Though it works well to provide a well balanced view of the contrasting sides, it impedes the author from trying a more literary approach to his story telling. Mr. Shaara¿s novel is a sweeping, yet balanced, panorama of the people and events which gave birth to the United States of America and is worthy of its place on the bookshelf of American historical fiction
Ryanxia More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. Keeps you interested, not too dry. First book of this author that I've read, will definitely check out others by him.
Ken79 More than 1 year ago
Shaara writes an excellent story around factual history. I have checked many of the episodes in his book against actual history and he is very faithful to the facts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for all history lovers. It gives an in depth look at  the time leading up to the Revolutionary War through the eyes of some of its greatest leaders.  It is historically accurate and engaging.  I have learned more from this than from any other book I've read on the subject. The characters are fantastic and portrayed  in a way that makes you feel as if you knew them.  Shaara pulls you in and makes you feel like part of the story. I think this is a great read, and I highly recommend it.
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LindaKY More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy reading about our histroy, you will enjoy this book. It is written from the view of the participants.
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