The Glorious Cause

May 3, 2021 | book review

In the end, however, the intangible played as great a part as organization or system in keeping the army going. The army’s will to survive and to fight on short rations, its willingness to suffer, to sacrifice, made the inadequate adequate and rendered the failures of others of little importance. The army overcame the worst in itself and in others. It was indomitable.

The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789

​I was never all that informed about the Revolutionary period of American history. As a young man I’d read James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, which is probably the best single volume history of the Civil War, and that plus a few college courses in military history cemented my attention, at least when it came to 19th Century America. The Revolution by contrast seemed something from another age even though it was only eighty years before, an age of powdered Whigs (pun fully intended) pants that needed at the knee and so on.

The Glorious Cause, by Robert Middlekauff, really puts all that into another perspective. Its part of the same Oxford History of the United States and McPherson’s work and really shows how so much that happened in the U.S. in the 1860’s, as well as today, for that matter, has its roots in those last critical decades at the end of the 18th century.

A few key observations…the American colonies were in most respects effectively independent from Britain long before the first shot was fired at Concord or Lexington, decades of what was effectively benign neglect coupled with the vast distances across the Atlantic led to a high level of self-government that seems to have taken both sides by surprise when the costs of the Seven ears War led Parliament to imposes direct taxes on the colonies. Also, independence was as much a result of British bungling as American daring. At any point in the process, even up to a year after the first battles in Massachusetts, the British could have settled the whole thing in their favor with a few concessions that in the greater scheme of things would have cost them nothing.

There’s much more to it than that, of course. And you may be wondering why a fantasy writer would be times time and pixels in a different subject. Wel, for one thing, I might one day write a fantasy series that is based on this period in history.. And also, why the heck not?

In short, a good and informative book

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