The Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

William H. Hallahan, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-380-97616-4
Aiming to do more than just describe Paul Revere's famous ride and the ""shot heard round the world,"" military historian Hallahan argues that the Battle of Lexington and Concord wasn't merely the mythic event that has become part of our American heritage; it was a politically important occurrence, a catalyst for radicalizing the colonies behind the emerging idea of national independence. Before the battle, he contends, most Americans were unhappy with British rule, but they shared little consensus about how to react. The shocking news of battle, however, emboldened radical elements in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Williamsburg, effectively undermining advocates of a negotiated political settlement with Britain. Although there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about Hallahan's treatment of the battle, of such well-known revolutionary personalities as Washington and Hamilton or of the early days of the revolution (Bernard Bailyn, Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris do a far better job in their classic works), he does remind us of the peculiar genius of Samuel Adams, whose behind-the-scenes tactical brilliance provoked from the British a response of unthinking rage. Depicting him as a visionary propagandist and the leading force behind Boston's urban guerrilla war against British forces, Hallahan shows how Adams incited the British by leading mob actions such as the Boston Tea Party and the rushing of Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson's Boston home. Indeed, as the ill-fated British Army marched toward Lexington and Concord, it was searching for the elusive Adams. Hallahan rescues the reality of events long buried beneath layers of myth and folklore. B&w photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-380-79605-2
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