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American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People Book Cover American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People

by T. H. Breen

Reviews

“T. H. Breen’s American Insurgents, American Patriots is a pioneering and riveting new analysis of how America was born. Skirting the whole Founding Fathers phenomena, Breen champions instead the everyman of the pre-revolution as a brave citizens’ brigade of change. A landmark achievement!” —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and official CBS News Historian

“The Founding Fathers have all the honor they need. Now it’s time to honor the ordinary men and women who T. H. Breen brilliantly assays in this riveting book on the crucial run-up to the Declaration of Independence. He shows how people from small farming communities, risking all, purged the countryside of royal officials, dismantled royal authority, shuttered court houses, and defied the King’s troops. In this tautly constructed book, Breen shows how much the bewigged Founding Fathers owed to those beneath them, and how much we owe to the plain-spoken, inconspicuous, and roughened colonial insurgents who are the unsung heroes of the American Revolution.” —Gary B. Nash, author of The Unknown American Revolution

“Who made the American Revolution? Not the men who typically get the most credit for it, says T.H. Breen in American Insurgents, American Patriots.  This bracing and impassioned recounting of the origins of America’s break with Great Britain puts ‘the people’—ordinary men and women—back into their rightful place in the story. Sure to provoke discussion, Breen’s work is a much-needed and welcome addition to the literature on the founding of the American nation.” —Annette Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“T. H. Breen’s revisionist page-turner recaptures the ungentlemanly labors of Colonial America's dangerous classes, those vigilantes, night riders, and terrorists who made the Revolution possible even before Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine proclaimed its necessity. There is sobering contemporary relevance here for Americans about great empires and the violent resistance they spawn in the name of freedom.” —David Levering Lewis, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“In this engaging book, Breen tells the vivid stories of thousands of ordinary Americans who made an extraordinary revolution. American Insurgents, American Patriots reminds us that we have many more Founding Mothers and Fathers than we usually recognize.  Breen deftly explores the American Revolution in its full social depth, revealing how it affected everyone: the rich and poor, free and slave, and Patriot and Loyalist.” —Alan Taylor, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“Breen has uncovered the grass roots of the American Revolution in the unheralded acts of ordinary people.  Meeting in towns and villages throughout the colonies, they gave public notice that they no longer consented to British rule.  Without the prompting of the leaders who have figured so largely in standard histories, they established their own independence well before Thomas Jefferson and company declared it in their famous document." —Edmund Morgan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“American Insurgents, American Patriots reveals startling details of the alienation and anger that pervaded the minds of thousands of Americans long before shots were fired on Lexington Green. This is a book that deepens our understanding of the American Revolution—and it’s a great read in the bargain!” —Thomas Fleming, author of Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge

“This compelling narrative examines the lives of ordinary Americans who in the years 1774 and 1775 led the way to American independence.  The book’s great merit is to describe the foundation that an insurgency of common people constructed for the building of a new nation.” —Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

“T. H. Breen restores the people to their proper place in our understanding of the coming of the American Revolution.  Showing how popular anger at misguided British policies was channeled into political and military action, Breen gives us fresh perspectives on the ways ordinary Americans mobilized themselves for war and helped create a new nation.  Beautifully written and powerfully argued, American Insurgents, American Patriots should attract a wide and grateful readership.” —Peter S. Onuf, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

“Breen’s account restores a vivid sense of what the American Revolution felt like to the brave men and women who lived through its enormous ups and downs, and its everyday violence as well.  With a scholar’s command and a writer’s sympathy, he infuses a world of meaning into the word ‘insurgent’— an apt description for the Americans who were turning the known world upside down.” —Ted Widmer, Director and Librarian, John Carter Brown Library

“If earlier authors convinced you that Americans owe their independence to a handful of ‘founding brothers,’ you will be fascinated by T. H. Breen’s persuasive demonstration that the Founders of the republic could not have succeeded—and might not have tried—without support and pressure from tens of thousands of ordinary Patriots who recognized that sometimes leaders need to be led.” —Woody Holton, author of Abigail Adams

“Casting a new light on the origins of the struggle for independence, Breen mines letters, sermons and diaries to create a lively, nuanced account of ordinary farmers’ growing resistance to the British government in the two years before the Declaration of Independence. Angry at oppressive parliamentary acts that abrogated their God-given rights, tens of thousands of rebellious insurgents laid the groundwork for a successful revolution. Their anger was every bit as important to the revolutionary story as the learned debates of the Founding Fathers… An important new view of a revolution in the making.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Breen presents a provocative reinterpretation of the American Revolution as more of a grassroots movement of ordinary persons…This is a valuable book by a distinguished scholar.” —Publishers Weekly

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