This volume brings together sixteen essays on the American Revolution by leading historian Jack Greene. Originally published between 1972 and the early nineties, these essays approach the Revolution as an episode in British imperial history rather than as the first step in the creation of an American nation.
Greene addresses four major themes: why the Revolution occurred and how contemporaries explained it; how developments in the colonial era and the nature of colonial political societies affected the shape and character of the Revolution; what impact the Revolution had upon existing political cultures, particularly in Virginia; and how the experiences of important individuals can be used to illuminate the origin, nature, and impact of the Revolutionary experience.
In Understanding the American Revolution, Greene explores such problems as Virginia's political behavior during the Revolutionary era; the roles of three cultural brokers, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Phillip Mazzei; and why the Revolution had such a short half-life as a model for large-scale revolutions. He explores the colonial roots of the political structures that Revolutionary leaders created, and he asks why the American Revolution was not more radical.