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The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory. In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George III, Prime Minister Lord North, military leaders including General Burgoyne, the Earl of Sandwich, and others who, for the most part, led ably and even brilliantly. Victories were frequent, and in fact the British conquered every American city at some stage of the Revolutionary War. Yet roiling political complexities at home, combined with the fervency of the fighting Americans, proved fatal to the British war effort. The book concludes with a penetrating assessment of the years after Yorktown, when the British achieved victories against the French and Spanish, thereby keeping intact what remained of the British Empire.
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'Extensively researched, gracefully written'(The Washington Times)
‘O’Shaughnessy artfully weaves the entire breadth and sweep of the wars of the American Revolution [and] destroys certain deeply entrenched myths.’(The Objective Standard)
'Engaging...keeps the whole picture firmly in view: Britain, North America, the Caribbean, the balance-of-power politics on the Continent-all affected by the colonial rebellion.'(Brendan Simms, Washington Street Journal)
'[The] work of an historian in thorough command of his sources who writes with admirable grace and acuity.'(Weekly Standard)
'Further enriches our appreciation of the American Revolution... O’Shaughnessy’s biographical sketches are captivating and will be read with enjoyment by academics and general readers alike.'(Times Literary Supplement)
"A first-rate study, scholarly, yet accessible."(Military History Monthly)
"A perfect demonstration of how modern scholarship and original thought can change the way that we think about the past. It is a brilliant book."(BBC History)
"Challenges the conventional view...fascinating."(Guardian)
"First-rank revisionist history."(Independent)
“Fascinating, well written and extensively researched."(Saul David, Sunday Telegraph) Book Description:
The first book to redress the myth of British incompetence during the American Revolution, revealing a unique account of the Empire’s most stunning loss
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