The British Are Coming

Noticed a new book on the American Revolution circling around the internet and the title attracted my attention. What is wrong with it? Hopefully, it is explained in the book.

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775–1777 by Rick Atkinson (Henry Holt and Co., 2019).

New books on the American Revolution often focus on anything other than the military campaigns from 1775 to 1781. Journal of the American Revolution award winners, for instance, have featured the roles of individuals, Native Americans, and the events on the periphery. But Rick Atkinson’s The British Are Coming is the opening volley of what has become in the twenty-first century a bit of a throwback: a multivolume narrative military history.
It is unlikely that a major publisher would have ventured on such a project without an author such as Atkinson. But his previous Liberation Trilogy, which followed the American Army through World War II from its landing in North Africa to the fall of Berlin garnered accolades from critics, strong sales, and  a Pulitzer Prize. By so doing it proved the multivolume military history genre, which harkens back to such writers as Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton, and Allan Nevins, was still viable in our age of omnipresent screens and 280-character “tweets.”

Atkinson’s newest work covers the period from March 1775, just before Lexington and Concord, through Trenton and Princeton at the end of 1776.  Weighing in at nearly 600 pages of narrative text (exclusive of bibliography, notes, and index) and focused almost entirely on its military aspects, his account promises to be as detailed military history of the war as we will see in our lifetimes upon its completion.
Rick Atkinson.
The choice of the American Revolutionary War for his next project is an interesting one. John Sterling, editor-at-large of Atkinson’s publisher, Henry Holt, explains that it has been several decades since we’ve seen a “start-to-finish battle history of the American Revolution.” In addition, more recent works have lacked the detail required to relate the emotional depths of those who personally experienced it to the modern reader. It is this gap Atkinson seeks to close with what Sterling characterizes as a “re-imagination” of the war….. Click here for the full article at Journal of the American Revolution.

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