British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution

Don N. Hagist. Westholme Publishing, $34.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59416-167-4
Americans typically have a very specific image of the British army that fought the Revolutionary War. They are typically seen as brutes from the dregs of society, often performing military service in lieu of jail time or through forcible conscription. Hagist's historical survey uses primary source narratives to counter these ideas, which he argues do a disservice to a well-trained, professional army. The stories he presents are from young men who were predominantly educated, middle class volunteers. Most of the voices heard belong to deserters, not because they were particularly common, but because they tended more often to be recorded, such as through the traditional final testimonies taken from condemned men. While Hagist's goal is laudable, his writing doesn't quite bring these soldiers to life. Readers who are not already deeply invested in Revolutionary War history will struggle to find much that's engaging in the soldiers' repetitive narratives. For readers who are interested in the period, however, this study offers a new take on commonly accepted truths. Though Hagist fails to make his debut engaging to laypeople, he knows his material well. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/03/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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Paperback - 356 pages - 978-1-59416-204-6
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