I recently needed to look up a quote from a British politician in the House of Commons during the American Revolutionary War. I went to my personal library (like to call it a study but since I have not found a desk to “study” on in there, I’ll continue to call it my library).
I grabbed Don Cook’s book The Long Fuse, How England Lost the American Colonies. A great read about the opposing side in the American Revolution. I found what I needed, but, as many of you probably do, that took me down a reading tangent.
Disclaimer; those of us under stay-at-home orders have some additional free time to explore more of our personal libraries. Those who can relate know what I am talking about. You pick up a book looking for something specific, which leads you to finish that book, then find one in the same genre or another micro-study of the same topic, until you have consumed multiple tomes within a matter of days, weeks.
Cook’s book led me to The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire. I gained a different appreciation for King George III, Lord Frederick North, and other British leaders from their perspective, filling in the gaps of historical scholarship that more America-centric volumes do not have the word count or inclination to fill.
I then went deeper down the proverbial rabbit-hole. Delving into With Zeal and With Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783, I went on a reading campaign with the British in the colonies.
Which now leads me to this blog post, what else would you recommend? What are your go-to books on the British perspective in the American Revolution?
Side note, I may delve into the loyalist viewpoint histories next, as I came across an interesting fact; the largest diaspora in the 18th century was American citizens that chose loyalty to the British crown who left or were forced to evacuate during and after the end of the American Revolution. So, as any history enthusiast will do, I will do more research….reading I mean.
9 thoughts on “The British Perspective….Best Book?”
“The War for America 1775-1783” by Piers Macksey for geopolitics/strategy, “Fusiliers” by Mark Urban for more on battles, “Liberty’s Exiles” by Maya Jasanoff for Loyalist civilians and the diaspora. Best journals/diaries – Ewald, Simcoe, Roger Lamb, Johan Döhla, and Stephen Popp
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Try Thomas B. Allen’s “Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War.”
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I give a strong second to Mackesy. It is the best discussion of British strategy and how the war (especially after it became global in 1778) affected the entire Empire.
I would also recommend British Soldiers American War by Don Hagist
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“Fit for Service: The Training of the British Army 1715-1795” by J. A. Houlding is excellent and really puts the army’s capabilities in perspective. I think that Fred Anderson’s “Crucible of War” is essential to understanding the British government’s thinking about the American colonies in the years leading up to the war.
For a campaign history, with lots of primary accounts, Tomas McGuire’s “The Philadelphia Campaign, Vol I and II” along with his “Battle of Paoli” are hard to beat.
For a diary, I think “John Peebles’ American War” edited by Ira Gruber is an outstanding choice. It covers the years 1776-1782 and gives a very good idea of what the war was like for a company officer.
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Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution through British Eyes by Christopher Hibbert
Those Damned Rebels: The American Revolution as seen through British Eyes by Michael Pearson
Talk about similar titles…
My favorite has to be The Men Who Lost America though, great book and great writing.
Stanley Wrintraub’s Iron Tears – though he is an American historian, he presents our Revolutionary War from all 3 points of view…the Colonists, the British and the American leaders
I highly recommend two books; Eric Robson, The American Revolution, In its Political and Military Aspects and R. Arthur Bowler, Logistics and the Failure of the British Army in America.
“Oliver Wiswell” by Kenneth Roberts is a novel from 1940. Little long owns over the top but well worth reading. Loyalist viewpoint