Winner of the New-York Historical Society's Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize
Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy he recounts the first twenty-one months of America’s violent war for independence.
From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.
Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country’s creation drama.
“To say that Atkinson can tell a story is like saying Sinatra can sing . . . Historians of the American Revolution take note. Atkinson is coming. He brings with him a Tolstoyan view of war; that is, he presumes war can be understood only by recovering the experience of ordinary men and women caught in the crucible of orchestrated violence beyond their control or comprehension . . . It is as if Ken Burns somehow gained access to a time machine, traveled back to the Revolutionary era, then captured historical scenes on film as they were happening . . . The story he tells is designed to rescue the American Revolution from the sentimental stereotypes and bring it to life as an ugly, savage, often barbaric war . . . A powerful new voice has been added to the dialogue about our origins as a people and a nation. It is difficult to imagine any reader putting this beguiling book down without a smile and a tear.”—Joseph J. Ellis, The New York Times Book Review
“Atkinson . . . wastes no time reminding us of his considerable narrative talents . . . His knowledge of military affairs shines in his reading of the sources . . . For sheer dramatic intensity, swinging from the American catastrophes at Quebec and Fort Washington to the resounding and surprising successes at Trenton and Princeton, all told in a way equally deeply informed about British planning and responses, there are few better places to turn.”—The Washington Post
“Rick Atkinson is emerging as America’s most talented military historian . . . The British Are Coming is history written in a grand style and manner. It leaves one anxiously awaiting the next two volumes.”—New York Journal of Books
“Atkinson takes his time, but there's delight in all that detail . . . Atkinson is a superb researcher, but more importantly a sublime writer. On occasion I reread sentences simply to feast on their elegance . . . This is volume one of a planned trilogy. Atkinson will be a superb guide through the terrible years of killing ahead.”—The Times (London)
“[Atkinson’s] account promises to be as detailed a military history of the war as we will see in our lifetimes upon its completion . . . Atkinson makes good use of information from letters and journals to give his reader a sense of what it would have been like to walk in the shoes of both the war’s illustrious and lesser known participants . . . Atkinson’s accounts of battles are among the most lucid I’ve read . . . Readers who enjoy richly detailed military history will be greatly anticipating his second volume.”—Journal of the American Revolution
“This book is, in a word, fantastic. It offers all the qualities that we have come to expect from the author: deep and wide research, vivid detail, a blend of voices from common soldiers to commanders, blazing characterizations of the leading personalities within the conflict and a narrative that flows like a good novel . . . The British Are Coming is a superb ode to the grit and everyday heroism that eventually won the war.”—BookPage (starred review)
“Atkinson (The Guns at Last Light, etc.) is a longtime master of the set piece: soldiers move into place, usually not quite understanding why, and are put into motion against each other to bloody result . . . A sturdy, swift-moving contribution to the popular literature of the American Revolution.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This balanced, elegantly written, and massively researched volume is the first in a projected trilogy about the Revolutionary War . . . Combining apt quotation (largely from correspondence) with flowing and precise original language, Atkinson describes military encounters that, though often unbearably grim, are evoked in vivid and image-laden terms . . . Aided by fine and numerous maps, this is superb military and diplomatic history and represents storytelling on a grand scale.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Pulitzer Prize-winner Atkinson (The Liberation Trilogy) replicates his previous books’ success in this captivatingly granular look at the American Revolution from the increasing tension in the colonies in 1773 to the battles of Trenton and Princeton in 1777. Extensive research . . . allows Atkinson to recreate the past like few other popular historians . . . A superlative treatment of the period.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
George Washington, A Novice General
At the start of the Revolutionary War, it had been seventeen years since General George Washington last wore a military uniform and he was only a provincial officer with limited experience in frontier combat. But it quickly became clear, Washington was instinctively, brilliantly, a political general.Share This