If you study popular books on the American Revolution, it's easy to come away with the idea that the Revolution was led by the 56 men, give or take a few that were taking care of business elsewhere during pivotal moments in American history. American Insurgents, American Patriots shows that there's much more to the story than that.
From the role of the Black Regiment to the periodicals and pamphleteers to everyday working men — and women — this book tells the story of a revolution that would never have succeeded without the blood, sweat and tears of the
T. H. Breen's style of writing is engaging and easy to understand without being pedantic. I listened to the audio version narrated by John Pruden, one of my favorite narrators for this type of book. His elocution and pace are pitch perfect.
For the most part, Breen provides a source for the claims he makes. For example, when he shares the opinions of Elizabeth Shaw, a Tory who saw the events from a decidedly different point of view, you know he's getting the information directly the source. Or at least her letters, since she's been long gone. I did a quick "look inside" on Amazon, and there are plenty of footnotes - enough to satisfy even the most source-hungry among us.
Breen doesn't gloss over the events of the Revolution either. While there is no outright murder of Tories mentioned, plenty of lives are destroyed and at least one dies from a splinter in his groin (ouch!) after being paraded about on a rail. The fact that there wasn't more death directly attributed to the protest and informal action always struck me as the best evidence of divine intervention.
That said, Breen is far more factual and less agenda-driven than I've come to expect from most academics. (You would think they would all be unbiased, but you would be wrong, these days.) I am adding T.H. Breen to my list of favorite authors of American history, and I am eager to read another one of his books. My only problem is going to be choosing which one.