Taylor synthesizes this more recent scholarship but astutely combines it with the Progressive-era argument about the way the Founding Fathers manipulated populist anger to their own ends. Written with remarkable clarity and finesse, this will be the gold standard by which all future histories of the period will be compared.
Mr. Taylor retells the story compellingly on the basis of recent research, arriving at fresh conclusions along the way ... This sprawling continental history Mr. Taylor conveys with economy, clarity and vividness; his approach is scholarly in method but accessible in manner.
In a prodigious display of historical research, Taylor has drawn on nearly a thousand books and articles, listed in his 55-page bibliography. Because he has expanded the chronology of the Revolution into the 19th century and has included so much beyond the well-known headline events, he has some difficulty fitting everything in. He often packs so many incidents into each paragraph, with actions succeeding and crowding in upon one another, that there is no space to expand and develop any one of them.
Taylor goes far beyond the familiar tale of Redcoats vs. Minutemen, showing how what unfolded was really a multisided civil war within a larger imperial struggle over the fate of the North America ... showcas[es] the author’s mastery of the period. He has synthesized work old and new, especially scholarship from the last 30 years that reflects his interest in Native American history and the role of slaves and women in the period ... Taylor views some events and individuals with a peculiar skepticism bordering on cynicism...Still, his sections on the war of independence are vivid and convey the full scale of an upheaval that divided families and pitted neighbors against one another.
Taylor makes the familiar events seem shockingly, and thrillingly, new. Instead of treating the revolution as a series of discrete episodes in an inexorable march toward freedom, he puts the revolution in context. Its celebrated accomplishments become tiny threads in the vast tapestry of 18th-century geopolitics, economics and social transformation. Taylor seeks to convey, as he puts it, 'the multiple and clashing visions of revolution pursued by the diverse American peoples of the continent.' The result is a completely new understanding of the revolutionary era.
Taylor has done a remarkable job synthesizing and interpreting recent scholarship that explores the global dynamics of the conflicts, as well as scholarship that situates the social history of women, Native Americans and especially slaves alongside the more traditional story of the white men who wrote pamphlets and picked up muskets ... Taylor approaches the revolution not narratively or even thematically...The result is — perhaps necessarily — scattered and sometimes hard to read. In forsaking the idea of an orderly revolution, Taylor has also discarded the cleanliness of a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. He uses vignettes to illustrate his points, often featuring familiar names, but often to complicate the myth of the American founding, not to reinforce it.
...tackles this controversial, rarely discussed subject with gusto ... Mr. Taylor uses a fine paintbrush on a massive historical canvas. Stories of partisans and slaves, trials and tribulations of allies and rebels, and fierce battles on land and oceans creates one of the most unique color palettes about the Republic ... a well-written and researched book that will frustrate and challenge readers. It’s only natural that we want to elevate our heroes to the highest pedestal and ensure they always remain perfect. Yet, a better understanding of their imperfections doesn’t diminish their achievements; it only proves these heroes were, and will always be, human beings.