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Like most popular historians, Philbrick (Mayflower) writes about discrete events, not large developments. And he's good at it, even if the larger context is rarely considered and critical analysis gives way to story and celebration. Here, his focus is on events that began with the humiliations of the British at Lexington and Concord and ended with the siege of Boston, the American victory at Bunker Hill in 1775, and the departure in 1776 of British forces from New England's largest city. Philbrick correctly presents the battle at Bunker Hill as a critical moment in the opening stages of the War for Independence, and displays an empathy for the out-maneuvered British caught in the traps that the Patriots laid for them. He wisely makes as one of his central figures the Patriots' charismatic leader, Joseph Warren, who was killed at Bunker Hill, and who has since been largely forgotten, despite having been the man responsible for "orchestrating the on-the-ground reality of a revolution." Philbrick tells his tale in traditional fashion-briskly, colorfully, and with immediacy. The book would have benefited from a point of view more firmly grounded in a contemporary evaluation of the battle, but even as it is-no one has told this tale better. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Nathaniel Philbrick has long demonstrated a rare talent for bringing new perspectives and sparkling prose to iconic episodes in US history (e.g., Mayflower, CH, Jan'07, 44-2887). As the subtitle suggests, this narrative centers on Revolutionary Boston and culminates in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The analysis seamlessly combines political and social history to evoke a city and a people under stress. The author's maritime sensibility further enhances its descriptive power. It is, however, the depiction of individuals, particularly Joseph Warren and Thomas Gage, that gives the work its engaging poignancy. Other features include useful maps, contemporary illustrations, and an impressive bibliography. Even more valuable are the 50 pages of notes, keyed to both chapters and pages of text, and presented as an extended essay illustrating the author's methods and explaining his judgments--an education in itself and a model of historiographic good sense. This book deserves to be ranked with David Hackett Fischer's classic Paul Revere's Ride (CH, Sep'94, 32-0497) as a superb evocation of early Revolutionary Massachusetts. No one interested in the American Revolution should miss this one. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. R. P. Gildrie emeritus, Austin Peay State University
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National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea) here gives readers a detailed account of the 1774 Battle of Bunker Hill, including the contentious preceding years and the months afterward, when George Washington ended the ten-month siege of Boston by forcing the British evacuation. Philbrick details the background, beliefs, motives, and decisions of key players from both sides, notably Boston's Joseph Warren, whose death at Breed's Hill was a devastating loss for the patriots, British general Thomas Gage, and Washington himself. Philbrick compellingly chronicles how the British mission to restore order, juxtaposed with the violence of Bostonian patriots, produced a volatile atmosphere. He exposes indecisiveness, confusion, incompetence, cowardice, and evenhandedness on both sides of the battle that marked a change from colonial attempts to preserve autonomy to a fight for independence. -VERDICT This is the third recent popular history of the Battle of Bunker Hill, following James L. Nelson's With Fire and Sword and Paul Lockhart's The Whites of Their Eyes-each offering a unique but complementary perspective. Philbrick's is an exhaustively researched, intelligent, and engaging narrative with a sophisticated approach. Collections lacking the other two books should certainly acquire this; those with the others should consider this one too. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/12.]-Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Philbrick's newest work chronicles the cradle of the American Revolution, Boston's action-packed years of 1773-76. Opening with the consequences of the Boston Tea Party, Philbrick depicts the arrival of British army and naval forces, the manifestation of the royal government's intention to quash the burgeoning rebellion in Massachusetts. Its leaders, patriots like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren, provide the drama's counterpoise to British officials. Having deployed his characters, Philbrick launches each side's resort to military preparations and operations, a narrative that benefits from one of the author's several imaginative services to readers, detailing in word and map the geography of Boston and environs at that time. Another audience benefit is Philbrick's evocation of the look of patriot militias and British regiments, which enliven his crackling accounts of military movements that produced the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Displaying, as in Mayflower (2006) and The Last Stand (2010), a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist