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 audiobook makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of 10 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 audiobook 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.
©2013 Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy (P)2013 Tantor
"[An] engaging study . . . based on an extensive reading of the vast literature and of many original sources." (Brendan Simms, The Wall Street Journal)
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"It didn't lose me"
Excellent story that was well researched, performed, and organized.
Always interesting or entertaining.
Most of them come off as sympathetic, though Lord North was especially so. When taunted by an opposition member with North's habit of sleeping in the House, “Even now, in the midst of these perils, the noble lord is asleep,” North replied, “I wish to God I were,”.
Moved to know as a longtime American History buff there is still plenty to learn.
Probably one of the best audiobooks I have ever read.
The book was detailed but not too much detail. It had enough backstory to inform and explain the historical incidents while also maintaining interest. The narrator was excellent. The book met and exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it.
"Well-written, well-read and I learned a great deal"
For all you know about the American revolution, you probably don't know much about it from the British point of view. Barbara Tuchman addressed it in The March of Folly, but not in this level of detail. It's a long time since I read a book from which I learned so much about a subject I thought I knew well.
Excellent performance. Dignified tone of voice. And it's silly, but he gets credibility points for having a British accent.
"The most powerful empire in the world just wasn't up to the task"
or "England's Vietnam"
I think the conclusion lets George III off a bit easy. The impression I get from the book overall is that, at the onset, the notion that suppressing the rebellion would be easy was widespread. Before too long, many realized the significant problems with the war. Only few refused to face the truth, but one of them was King George. If he had seen sense earlier it would have been much better for the empire. I don't recall the author singling out George in the conclusion.
"Interesting, but more a series of biographies"
You are presented with a cavalcade of characters, starting with King George, Cornwallis, Burgoyne, etc., who led the British efforts during the American Revolution. It's very easy to jump for character to character as the features are self-contained and presented essentially from the start of the revolution (earlier if cogent) thru their deaths.
Difficult to say -- perhaps books like "Hitler's Generals", "Churchill's Generals", etc.
He provides an engaging narration, slipping into French where needed effortlessly and the British accent seemed to be almost obligatory for a book like this!
It's almost like a reference book or a "Biography Channel" for the British cast of characters for the American Revolution.
I was expecting something very different but I'm not disappointed at all. As the author lays out in the initial chapters, British knowledge of many of these individuals is limited -- I knew very little of the naval leaders, or some of the more scandalous affairs of these individuals during the Caribbean battles between France, Spain, and Britain during the war.
"A Full Perspective"
Played at 1.25. I have read many books about the revolution. This well written book provides a fuller perspective of the period and the war. An excellent rounding out for any student of the American Revolution
I enjoy history, religion, and a bit fiction. This book is informative and easy to listen to.
"Pay Attention or You're a Goner"
I first became aware of, and interested in, this book after hearing a podcast of Mr O'Shaughnessy speak to the Virginia Historical Society, which was quite good. I hurried to purchase the book which, at 21 hours in length AND featuring George Washington in a starring role, was right down my alley.
I admit that I was riveted, or should I say, could have been riveted, by the story, had it been in a different format. The author chose to write it in acts, for lack of a better description. So we were always back and forth with 4 and and 2 and..., which was very distracting. We were talking about North and then Germaine and then suddenly, we were back at North. I was constantly saying, "wait... what?" I got lost very quickly and unless you pay close attention, so will you.
That nik-pickery aside, who knew? Fascinating. The loss of America was completely unexpected and as an American, I am again amazed at the incredible victory which laid the bounty of America at our feet.
A clever, well researched and engaging read for anyone interested in British history and/or the American Revolution.
It opens with George III, as it should. George III and Lord North's bios overlap and at first can seem a bit redundant, but they were so intertwined during the war, this makes total sense. Once I started the section on the Howe Brothers, I was hooked.
The backstories, the drama, infighting, backstabbing, pettiness, egos, and underestimation of the Americans makes for a great book.
I knew some of the players going in, but learned a lot about important figures I never knew or realized played such a large role in the war. Well done and worth every minute of the 30+hours.
And the narrator's British accent is the perfect amount of British.
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