The B&N Podcast: Rick Atkinson on the Shot Heard Around the World

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Today on the podcast, we’ve asked the writer Rick Atkinson to take us with him on a journey back almost two and a half centuries into the past — to Lexington and Concord, the ride of Paul Revere, the Battle of New York and George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware. These are names and places we know from grade school history, or famous paintings, or even Schoolhouse Rock. But to revisit the events of the Revolutionary War through the eyes of Rick Atkinson’s painstaking research and bold storytelling is a revelation. If you’ve read Atkinson’s bestselling, award-winning Liberation trilogy, which traced in three books the fight against the Axis in Europe, you’ve experienced Atkinson’s unique talent for weaving together the experiences of soldiers on the battlefield and ordinary people caught in the terror of war with the strategies of generals and diplomats. With The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, his opening volume of a new Revolutionary War trilogy, Atkinson brings that same deft hand to the clash between George III and the newly formed Continental Army. Rick Atkinson joined in the studio to talk about this wonderful new book, and what he thinks we have to learn from that foundational conflict.

From the bestselling author of the Liberation Trilogy comes the extraordinary first volume of his new trilogy about the American Revolution.

Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy he recounts the first twenty-one months of America’s violent war for independence.

From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.

Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country’s creation drama.

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Author photo of Rick Atkinson (c) Elliott O’Donovan.