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The Whites of Their Eyes: Bunker Hill, the First American Army, and the Emergence of George Washington

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  97 ratings  ·  27 reviews

Paul Lockhart combines military and political history to offer a major reassessment of one of the most famous battles in American history.

One hot June afternoon in 1775, on the gentle slopes of a hill near Boston, Massachusetts, a small band of ordinary Americansfrightened but fiercely determineddared to stand up to a superior British force. The clash would be immortalized

ebook, 432 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published June 1st 2011)
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I have always been fascinated with the Revolutionary War and how the leaders in the Colonies sacrificed everything, including the safety of their own families for the "cause". And the soldiers that answered the call were farmers, publicans, mill workers etc. Regular men that left their homes and farms to chase the dream of being free of a Monarch's yoke. This well-researched novel touches on that premise somewhat but is more of a primer on how the Continental Army got organized initially and how ...more
The shift of 13 loyal crown colonies, to the independent United States is subtle, because it happens over the better part of the decade, Yet when it happened, particularly in New England, where the descendants of many of the old Roundheads from the Civil War of a century before reside; it happened with a deliberate violence that stunned the Empire in its organization and intent. The turn of the colonial resistance from petition, to protest to armed resistance precedes this story. The rise of the ...more
I stopped reading on page 38 because of two glaring errors. Confusing Somerset with Somerville, Massachusetts is pretty sloppy, especially when referring to a specific incident at Winter Hill prior to the outbreak of the war. On the very next page, Lockhart writes, "militia from Bristol and Plymouth counties, north of Boston" - when in fact these locales are south of Boston.

Mistakes like these so early in the book make me distrust the material. The author should be embarrassed.
Larry Zieminski
Before I started this book on the Battle of Bunker Hill, I thought about what I "knew" about the subject. I knew the battle didn't occur on Bunker Hill (it was Breed's Hill, though in my memory it had morphed to Greed's Hill). I also had the vague notion that it was an American victory (I was wrong about that).

Paul Lockhart's book is a very interesting recounting of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the events surrounding the battle (from the initial confrontation with the British at Lexington and C

The Whites of their Eyes provides a very good look at a time in American history that often gets little attention. This book focuses on the time between Lexington and Concord and the abandonment of Boston by the British at the start of the American Revolution. Paul Lockhart looks at the principle players of the story from American commanders Putnam, Ward, and Prescott to the British of Gage, Howe and Clinton and how they fought during the intervening time. The books primary focus is of course on
Nancy Kennedy
I am your typical public-school-educated person whose view of the American Revolution comes from the pages of perfectly adequate, but necessarily limited, textbooks. So, with this book, I was looking forward to expanding my understanding of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.

Because the topic is as all-encompassing as it ever was, the author chooses to focus on the events leading up to and including the Battle of Bunker Hill, and how these early experiences led to the formation of a unified A
Kristi Thielen
Great book that details the battle at Bunker Hill and explains how the American army that fought there largely disappeared from the scene thereafter and with appropriate reason: George Washington came on the scene and transformed the American army into a skilled, disciplined fighting force that had no place for the heartfelt but disorganized militiamen who stood at Bunker Hill.

Lockhart takes pains to explain that many long-held beliefs about the British redcoats are just that: in truth, the Bri
Aug 16, 2011 Kipi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs
A very balanced, well-written account of the first battle of the American Revolution. Dr. Lockhart provides us with neither the myth/legend nor a politically correct re-write but goes out of his way to tell the story from both the British and the Colonial point of view. Characters that have taken the brunt of the bad press through the years (American Artemis Ward and Brit Thomas Gage) are given more credit for the good they may have done than in any other account of Bunker Hill that I have read. ...more
One battle - the premise of this book is one early battle in the Revolutionary War. One might think that it would be a rather boring book given this, but instead the pages of this book contain inspiring images of average men running to the call of duty.

I think the most amazing thing about the beginning of the USA is that it really was just average/normal people that started the uprising that turned into something so much more. In this book two armies struggled through figuring out war - the terr
Profesor Lockhart wriien an excellent account of the events leading up to the battle of Bunker Hil, the battle itself and the aftermath. I really liked this book on a numer of levels. First, it is extremely readable - none of the pretentious diction that seems to characterize so much historical writing nowdays. The Whites of their Eyes reads almost like a novel. Second, if Lockhart had an axe to grind, I can't fathom what it was. He seems to me to be very objective in his outlook and goes to som ...more
Keith Parrish
Paul Lockhart sets out to take a look at the first pitched battle of the Revolutionary War and examine how and why it resulted in a technical victory (although one paid for with very high casualties) for the British. In a very light and easy to read narrative, Lockhart shows how the army came together and what was going on in the minds of both the patriot and British thinking. He spends a great deal of time debunking many of the myths of the battle (including the quote that gives the book its na ...more
Gary Brecht
Paul Lockhart debunks what he feels are common myths and misconceptions of America’s first great battle of the Revolutionary War. The author paints vivid portraits of the generals of both the American and British forces thereby illuminating this famous conflict in a new light. The tendency to assume the same American Army that fought our revolution’s first major battle consisted of the same participants in later battles is dispelled here. Moreover, past historians have given little credit to Art ...more
Wes A
An excellent work on the battle of Bunker Hill. One if the things which stuck out to me most prominently was the familiarity many of the officers on both sides had with each other. We often forget that the Revolution was civil conflict where friends, and former allies, ended up opposing each other in battle.

I am half a step away from being an outright pacifist, but I appreciate the magnitude of what the first American army did at the battle. Bunker hill was no militia reaction, it was a battle i
The second book I've read by this author, and even better than his earlier "The Drillmaster of Valley Forge". Lockhart makes the time, place, and people involved in the Battle of Bunker Hill come alive, and how the formation of the very first American army, even before it was popularly known as the Continentel Army, was a vary iffy proposition, at best. A really good read, and informative. My RevWar knowledge is greater now that it was 3 days ago when I opened this book on Christmas. I'll defini ...more
James Stevens
Focused on the battle of Bunker Hill, this narrative is simple in its telling, but not as wholistic of the entire 1773 to 1776 timeline in the Boston arena. This book is helpful in understanding the build up to Bunker Hill and an easy read for anyone wanting the story of the early revolutionary war heroes.
Bryn Dunham
Terrific military history of the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, (though on an around Breed's Hill in actuality) that clarifies popular legends and lore and sets the record straight as to why the battle took place and how it set the stage for the long war for American independence. An excellent companion to Nathaniel Philbrick's, "Bunker Hill", another great read that focuses more on the siege on Boston whereas this book focuses on the troop movements and military strategy of the fight and eightee ...more
Stuart Lutzenhiser
Interesting short overview into exactly what the cover says, the events leading up to the creation of the first American Army in 1775, the nomination of George Washington as its first commander and the battle of Bunker Hill (Breed's Hill, really). The battle has a mythic quality in the American psyche - so it was good to dig into the specifics a bit. That being said, there definately seemed to be enough material for a much more in-depth digging. This left me wanting more detail, not less.
I thought it was well researched, presented a lot of information. I couldn't help but compare it to Decisive Day by Richard Ketchum. That really isn't fair to Paul Lockhart but I just could not help it. Decisive Day is my hands down favorite account of Bunker Hill.

I thought the author tried to add too much on after the battle. It wasn't bad information, it just seemed to be added on after the fact. My opinion is that it could have started a new book.
Rebecca (Shieldmaiden)
A very good and informative book. A must for American Revolution nuts like me. I enjoyed it immensely. Recommend it to every one who loves the American Revolution. Four stars for being great and informative.
Mark Luongo
A different perspective about the army before George Washington and the engagement at Bunker's Hill/Breed's Hill. Not many people familiar with Artemas Ward and the job he did before Washington took command. It was well done and a quick read. Would've like to seen a more formal bibliography rather than chapter notes. Can they make them any smaller? "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" Putnam or Prescott? We'll never know.
My husband and I just got back from a trip to Boston and so this book seemed like a good one to read after the time there. I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the how the war with Great Britain was started, and the major players involved. I have many ancestors who fought in this war and so was interested in better understanding the time and circumstances.

One of the best history books that makes the days come to life about
the American Revolution in Boston, how the British took Bunker Hill, and
how the American army began. Also we see George Washington rise to become
head of the army. THis is 1776.
Dan Schroeder
Extremely well-written and engaging. My favorite kind of book: full of battle minutiae about the participants, times, and battlegrounds, as well as the bigger picture of the battle for Breed's and Bunker Hills. Written in a very readable and personal style.
For a well-researched and interesting foray into American Revolutionary history, try The Whites of Their Eyes by Paul Lockhart. This is an in-depth account of the battle of Bunker Hill and the emergence of George Washington as a leader of the revolution.
Luke Henning
An interesting read on the early period of the Revolution. Some factual errors but all in all a fast fun read. Great coverage of names most people would never, but should, know from the era.
Really enjoyed the book. It was interesting to view the "players" in such a different, and to me, reasonable way. It didn't hurt that we had just visited Boston!
Leah marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2015
Kelly Waldron
Kelly Waldron marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2015
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RevWar Revolution...: Suggested next read 1 7 Apr 17, 2012 07:58PM  
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  • The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States
  • Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War
  • A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic
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  • Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution
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  • The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America
  • Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution
  • American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence
Paul Lockhart is a history professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His first four books are about the history of Scandinavia, but in 2006 he decided to write for a broader audience and hence returned to his roots in early American history. His fifth book, THE DRILLMASTER OF VALLEY FORGE: THE BARON DE STEUBEN AND THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN ARMY (HarperCollins, 2008), was his first wid ...more
More about Paul Lockhart...
The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army Denmark in the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648: King Christian IV and the Decline of the Oldenburg State Frederik II and the Protestant Cause: Denmark's Role in the Wars of Religion, 1559-1596 Sweden in the Seventeenth Century (European History in Perspective) The Drillmaster of Valley Forge

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