Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero

Christian Di Spigna. Crown, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-553-41932-0
Di Spigna argues that, although Joseph Warren (1741–1775) remains largely unknown, he was “one of the most important figures in the movement for independence,” a characterization amply supported by the evidence presented in this revealing and insightful biography. The doctor-turned-revolutionary wrote the Suffolk Resolves, “the pivotal documents that shaped the policies of the colonies on the eve of independence,” ran the rebels’ first spy ring, ordered Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and served as a military commander before George Washington. During the decade preceding his death, starting with the Stamp Act, “Warren was at the center of almost every major conflict” in the Boston area. He died at Bunker Hill in 1775 because he remained on the battlefield until his troops had all gone, and he was regarded as so dangerous by the British that his corpse was decapitated and mutilated. Di Spigna incorporates diligent research, enhanced by analysis of primary sources only he has tracked down (such as medical records Warren maintained for his practice), into a gripping narrative that doesn’t shy away from the darkness in his subject, including Warren’s family’s ownership of slaves. This book will give readers a fuller picture of American leadership before the active engagement of those now called the founding fathers. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/14/2018
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