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Publisher's Summary

From one of our most acclaimed and original colonial historians, a groundbreaking book - the first to look at the critical "long year" of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the First Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2020

Mary Beth Norton keenly focuses on the 16 months during which the traditional loyalists to King George III began their discordant "discussions" that led to their acceptance of the inevitability of war against the British Empire and to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775.

Drawing extensively on pamphlets, newspapers, and personal correspondence, Norton reconstructs colonial political discourse as it happened, showing the vigorous campaign mounted by conservatives criticizing congressional actions. But by then it was too late. In early 1775, governors throughout the colonies informed colonial officials in London that they were unable to thwart the increasing power of the committees and their allied provincial congresses. Although the Declaration of Independence would not be formally adopted until July 1776, Americans, even before the outbreak of war in April 1775, had in effect "declared independence" by obeying the decrees of their new provincial governments rather than colonial officials.

©2020 Mary Beth Norton (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Deeply researched...Norton makes a good case for considering 1774 and not 1776 to be the foundational year of the new republic." (Kirkus)

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  • Randall Parker
  • 18-04-2020

The US revolutionary war was baked in by 1775

This book 1774 and also 1775 by Kevin Phillips demonstrate that the US revolution was determined to happen before the year 1776 started. An overemphasis on 1776 in American national mythology causes people to be ignorant of the many reasons why the colonies were becoming more distrustful of their imperial Masters and more willing to believe that they could govern themselves just fine. To a very large extent they already were self governing and had many of their own governing institutions.

1775 is the stronger book. But this is a quicker read or listen and is a useful build-up to 1775.

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  • David Butler
  • 30-12-2020

Well researched, but too long and boring.

This book reads/listens like an extensive list of primary sources with no apparent narrative tying it together. I couldn't get through the whole thing as it was too long and didn't tie together for me. If you are a researcher looking to dig into the founding of the Republic, this would be a good book for you. If you enjoy history and are looking for a good story, not so much.

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  • Steadfast
  • 22-04-2021

Bad Ass retelling of how it all started

Bravo!
I am a Rev War historian and reenactor, well past over 50 books of the Rev War!
I have read them in every form of presentation. dry to dramatic.

The amount of detail and research that had to go into this is simply insain! How the author found all the obscure sources is beyond my comprehension! And how she put it all together and in cultural context shows her collosal intellect. The way she methodically and deliberately flowed one seamingly irrelevant event into another and then another, adding up to such radical political change unto war is masterful.

As an interpretor and historian, I am awed and humbled by your amazing retelling of the match that lite the fuse!

Bottom Line: We really were forced into it.

WOW! I am unworthy!

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  • blthom
  • 07-09-2020

interesting historically but not riveting

There was good information and it depicted the views well. For me, this was an on purpose read - not a page turner that you can't put down.

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