To Begin the World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe

Matthew Lockwood. Yale Univ, $30 (512p) ISBN 978-0-300-23225-7
University of Alabama history professor Lockwood (The Conquest of Death) places the Revolutionary War in truly global historical context. He judiciously integrates economic, political, social, and legal developments across multiple locations (with convincing sections on the conflict’s aftermath in Russia, India, Africa, China, and the South Pacific) and focuses his exhaustive research on archives that include the underreported “voices of the poor, the struggles and triumphs of the common man and woman.” This enables him to humanize an epic story; for example, the revolution’s effects in Peru are conveyed through the experiences of Micaela Bastidas, who led a failed revolt against the Spanish Empire. Lockwood also makes connections that will be new even to readers knowledgeable about Revolutionary War history: for instance, readers may remember that Australia became a dumping ground for transported British convicts after the 13 colonies were no longer an option, but Lockwood argues that the number of convicts increased because of the growth of a criminal underclass caused by the war. Readers may be skeptical of Lockwood’s implication that certain developments, such as South American colonies’s struggles to gain independence, might not have happened without the American Revolution. Nonetheless, this is a breakthrough popular history, written with a novelist’s eye for detail and atmosphere. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/12/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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