Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

3.6 5
by Claudio Saunt

See All Formats & Editions

This panoramic account of 1776 chronicles the other revolutions unfolding that year across North America, far beyond the British colonies.
In this unique history of 1776, Claudio Saunt looks beyond the familiar story of the thirteen colonies to explore the many other revolutions roiling the turbulent American continent. In that fateful year, the Spanish landed in


This panoramic account of 1776 chronicles the other revolutions unfolding that year across North America, far beyond the British colonies.
In this unique history of 1776, Claudio Saunt looks beyond the familiar story of the thirteen colonies to explore the many other revolutions roiling the turbulent American continent. In that fateful year, the Spanish landed in San Francisco, the Russians pushed into Alaska to hunt valuable sea otters, and the Sioux discovered the Black Hills. Hailed by critics for challenging our conventional view of the birth of America, West of the Revolution “[coaxes] our vision away from the Atlantic seaboard” and “exposes a continent seething with peoples and purposes beyond Minutemen and Redcoats” (Wall Street Journal).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This work adds to a growing library of untraditional histories that incorporate everyone who’s had anything to do with the formation of the United States. Saunt, a University of Georgia history professor and noted expert on American Indians, asks a simple question: what was going on around 1776 in the territories that became the U.S.? That is, what’s the story on this continent when you leave out the Revolutionary War, which he scarcely mentions? It turns out that much was going on, and many different peoples—primarily the French, Spanish, Russians, and Native tribes—were involved in the lands west of the Appalachians, contesting for land, power, empire, and riches. The declaration of the colonists’ independence, of huge future significance, was scarcely noticed there. Missionaries, explorers, land-hungry speculators, and scalawags, many of whom most readers will never have heard of, continued their rivalries for faith, country, and self-interest, thus making a stew of ambitions on the North American continent. Saunt’s lively prose highlights the extent of this mess, but unfortunately, it’s hard to know what to conclude from his pastiche, or how it affects our knowledge of the Revolutionary period. Regardless, no one who reads it will think of 1776 the same way again. Maps & illus. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A multilayered American history of "formative events…occurring not just along the Eastern Seaboard but across all of North America."The year 1776 had enormous repercussions in the West, opening up the land to the exploring Spaniards and rapacious Russians and decimating the Native Americans as well as significant native fauna like otters and beavers. Saunt (American History/Univ. of Georgia; Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family, 2005, etc.) explores what the rest of the continent was up to at the same time that George Washington was forming his Continental Army and Patrick Henry was disclaiming on liberty or death—namely, a rush for land and furs and the pushing out of the Indians in the way. Some of the alarming events included the purchase by speculator Richard Henderson of a whopping 22 million acres of land in what is now Kentucky and Tennessee from the Cherokee leaders for a pittance in a naked grab after British collapse; Capt. Ivan Solovyev and his band of Siberian trappers wreaking havoc on the native Aleuts; and the Spaniards, fearing Russian incursions in California, inciting the displeasure of the native Kumeyaays in the process, while conquistador Juan Bautista de Anza and his exploring party were making first contact with the Costanoan-speaking Indians in the San Francisco Bay. The division of the continent in two along the Mississippi River at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War (1763) allowed some tribes to take advantage of increased trade, while most others straddling the divide were crushed. Saunt ably juggles myriad events—the Hudson Bay Company causing the near extinction of many species of animal, the Lakotas' discovery of the fertile Black Hills—throughout his compelling narrative.A welcome amplification of the American story.
Bethanne Patrick - Washingtonian
“Highly recommended as a balancing tonic to more conventional Revolutionary books.”
Jacob E. Osterhout - Newsweek
“[A] panoramic view of North America… rife with fascinating facts.”
Alan Taylor
“A dramatic and compelling new take on the North America of 1776. With careful research and in evocative writing, Saunt brilliantly recovers the cultural diversity and many possibilities of a continent dominated by native peoples and coveted by several empires.”
Maya Jasanoff
“Move over, Minutemen: teeming with Sioux hunters, Creek farmers, Aleutian traders, Russian trappers, and Spanish missionaries, West of the Revolution portrays America in 1776 as we’ve never seen it before. . . . A revelation.”
Pekka Hamalainen
Jon Meacham
“An engaging, original, and thought-provoking book on what was happening on the American continent in 1776 outside of our traditional line of sight. The result is a fascinating new look at the most familiar of years.”
Doug Kiel - Chicago Tribune
“[B]old and inclusive… a significant contribution to our understanding of this volatile and formative period in American history.”
Kate Tuttle - Boston Globe
“[A]s compelling and awful as a ghost story… [A] masterful portrait.”
Carolyn Kellogg - Los Angeles Times
“A history more terrible than wondrous, a necessary counternarrative to our enlightened Revolution… Saunt stretches the scope of his history to provide context and background… He has created a sweeping narrative of noncolonial America in 1776. But he is at his most colorful when he finds individual stories, such as that of the Frenchman floating down the Arkansas River with ‘one severed head and the corpses of two of his companions.’”
Michael Upchurch - Seattle Times
Gerard Helferich - Wall Street Journal
“Perceptive and original.”
Ed Herschthal - Christian Science Monitor
“Illuminating… readers will walk away from West of the Revolution with an entirely necessary set of characters to fold into the narrative of 1776…. In a global age, this kind of history could not be more welcome.”

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Claudio Saunt is the Richard B. Russell
Professor in American History at the
University of Georgia. He is the author of award-winning books, including A New Order of Things and Black, White, and Indian and West of the Revolution.
He lives in Athens, Georgia.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
fred5962 More than 1 year ago
If you're curious about the rest of the country while we were fighting the British on the east coast, you should look into this book, for you will be surprised that our future west was undergoing a lot of growing pains. The author keeps this topic interesting in denoting modern locations for the locations cited. For example, who knew that the Plains Indians were mostly over six feet in height? They had grown healthy on a diet of Buffalo meat, and when they met their eastern counterparts in Washington, they were surprised to have to look down on them, literally. I think you will enjoy this book, because the "savages" weren't they; they were us.
semcdwes More than 1 year ago
1776, it is a year known well in the Western World. The year when the American colonies declared their independence, so beginning a war with Britain that would have resounding consequences. Yet it was a war that happened exclusively along the Atlantic seaboard. Thousands of miles of land lay to west of these battles, land that was experiencing its own upheavals, but rarely is that story told. This book endeavors to do just that, spanning not only the North American continent but also unexpected locations such as Cuba, Russia, and Paris.<br /> <br /> I must admit I picked up this book from the shelves on a whim, because I was intrigued Even as a history student we rarely touched on what was happening in North America outside of the British colonies, that is until the fledgling United States began their push into the interior of the continent on their way to Pacific. While I appreciated Saunt's effort, I really felt like he could have done more. The text was dry, often rambling at times as in the pages and pages of information on the magnificence and signifigance of the beaver population. Where he wasn't engaged in long tangents, the author skimmed quickly over the material. At only 210 pages of text, this book provides the barest of introductions to the several topics covered. Given the 50 pages of notes at the end of the book, it is clear that the author conducted extensive research, so it would have been nice to read a more expanded version of this book. As it is, he merely wet my interest in the topics he chose to present. To top it off he introduced yet another topic on the European discovery of the Hawaiinislands in the two page long epilogue. No where else in the book was Hawaii or Captain Cook mentioned, so I found this incredibly frustrating. Good thing he included all his notes so that I know where else to look for the rest of the history. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
About a third of the book is after the epilogue. An exciting topic that could have had more story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
thompsot1 More than 1 year ago
This book consists of a series of rather vague descriptions of events around the globe that occurred in the time of our Revolution. The links tying these together were quite weak, if they existed at all. There wasn't any real overarching sense of relatedness or conclusion.