A look at the critical "long year" of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the first Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
... refreshing ... Norton has taken a comprehensive look at the attitudes of the 13 colonies as they dealt with issues of political legitimacy, mob violence, representative government, and taxation in these critical months, in which both colonial and English attitudes hardened to the point that compromise became impossible, and England’s colonial authority began to wane ... a marvelous and thoughtful book, refuting many of the common myths about pre-Revolution colonial politics, showing that debates about loyalty to the crown and the entire concept of representative government were much more wide-spread than usually considered in American colonial history texts.
Ms. Norton does not fundamentally challenge the traditional trajectory of events in that decisive year. What she does do is enrich the narrative, filling in the story with a staggering amount of detail based on prodigious research in an enormous number of archives. She doesn’t just tell us how many pounds of tea the East India Co. placed on seven ships sailing to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston, S.C. in late 1773, but she describes the kind of tea that was sent...Some readers might think this is specification run wild ... But for Ms. Norton this is the point of her book. She wants to re-create as much as possible the past reality of this momentous year in all of its particularity. Only then, she suggests, will we come to appreciate the complexity of what happened and to understand all of the conflicts, divisions and confusion that lay behind events, like the Tea Party, that historians highlight and simplify. At times she relates events week by week, and occasionally day by day. She seeks to be as inclusive as possible and tries to incorporate all the varying points of view in her narrative. She seems to have read every newspaper in the period, and she delights in describing the give and take of debates between patriots and loyalists that took place in the press.
Norton brings that 16-month period vividly alive in her meticulously documented and richly rewarding 1774 ... This important book demonstrates how opposition to the king developed and shows us that without the 'long year' of 1774, there may not have been an American Revolution at all.