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1775: A Good Year for Revolution

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  350 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
The contrarian historian and analyst upends the conventional reading of the American Revolution

In 1775, iconoclastic historian and bestselling author Kevin Phillips punctures the myth that 1776 was the watershed year of the American Revolution. He suggests that the great events and confrontations of 1775—Congress’s belligerent economic ultimatums to Britain, New England’s
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Viking
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Jun 05, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok
I learned a great deal from 1775, and more importantly, managed to finish it, despite Kevin Phillips’ best efforts. Phillips sets out to examine the year or so (more on that in a moment) just prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence with a particular eye to debunking most of the myths that have cropped up in the following years. Of this, he does a good job. The lengthy volume focuses largely on economic and religious causes. It also examines the different waves of immigrants from ...more
John Long
Feb 08, 2013 John Long rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The information about the Revolutionary time period was well written. Phillips gave a lot of information and background. Where the book fell apart was in his determination to make sure the reader agreed with his premise that 1775 was the most important year of the American Revolution. One of the most bothersome parts to his point was that part of 1774, all of 1775 and 1776 up until July 4 were part of 1775. Had this just been a book about those periods, without trying to "win an argument" about ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
1775: A Good Year for Revolution by Kevin Phillips is an ambitious book that fulfills its ambitions. Phillips demonstrates in documented detail that the critical mass of the American Revolution came together in 1775, not 1776. Indeed, he traces the development of revolutionary sentiment and action well back into the 1760s and spends a good bit of time on 1774.

Like many histories, this book isn’t for everyone because it is so full of detail and information, designed to bolster its argument, that
Gary Baughn
Jan 28, 2014 Gary Baughn rated it really liked it
Our education about the American Revolution in this country is so scant and filled with self-serving half-truths that any decently objective and well-rehearsed book can be a revelation. Such a book is 1775, which uses as an organizational excuse the author's premise that 1775 was a more important year for the the Revolution than the often heralded 1776.
Since Phillips' definition of 1775 stretches back into 1774 and onward into 1776, it is hard to argue with his thesis, and who would want to, sin
Sep 21, 2013 Jerome rated it liked it
As Americans, the year 1776 is ingrained in our thinking as being the pivotal year of the Revolution. Phillips makes a persuasive case that this view is not accurate. He tells in vivid detail the events that seem to support this view. Phillips re-examines many of the basic assumptions we have about 1775 and crafts a vivid and realistic portrait of the problematic year.

Phillips shows how colonial revolutionaries dominated local governmental institutions and used various means to impose their agen
Jud Barry
Jan 14, 2013 Jud Barry rated it really liked it
What does a revolution make? Not just a Declaration of Independence. So says author Kevin Phillips in providing this comprehensive look at how the ingredients of the independent American pie were assembled and baked.

The title is sharply rhetorical, and reflects Phillips's own determination to jolt us out of our naive, mythological focus on 1776 and its neat narrative whereby the Declaration sowed dragon's teeth and generated soldiers who fought to a Yorktown finish. Phillips corrects this reduct
Nestor Rychtyckyj
May 11, 2013 Nestor Rychtyckyj rated it liked it
1775 is not an easy book to read but the effort is worth it. This analytical view of the American Revolution focuses on the year 1775 and provides ample evidence that this was the pivotal year where the American colonies made all the decisions that would lead to independence and the birth of the United States. The level of detail here is extraordinary; each colony is disected and the population is described in terms of religion, ethnicity, economic status and other factors that often determined ...more
John Behle
Jan 09, 2015 John Behle rated it it was amazing
This was, for me, a 19 day college course in The American Revolution. Don't worry, the 656 page length flows easily. Phillips sprinkles in deft wordsmithing and even some wry dry humor that highlights his well researched prose along the way. We covered every facet of the era, from religious influence to economics, to London Whitehall logistical nightmares to sheer patriot fervor.

I recommend this book. No movie screenplay, no novel, no fiction could ever match this pageant for human devotion, swe
Bob Schmitz
Sep 21, 2014 Bob Schmitz rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
The books premise is that this is that though we celebrate 1776 as the banner year of the American Revolution, the success of the revolution was actually set in 1775. If you are interested in the political complexities of the American Revolution as opposed to the standard book on various battles this is a great read.

Unlike the monolithic grand unified story of the American Revolution the book describes the various factions and complexities of that time. For instance Massachusetts, Connecticut,
Keith Davis
Mar 28, 2013 Keith Davis rated it really liked it
I had hoped Phillips' 1775 would be a sort of prequel to David McCullough's excellent 1776, but it is actually something else entirely. Phillips delves deeply into the causes of the American Revolution, focusing particularly on the economic and religious factors instead of the ideological factors that get most of the attention in popular histories of the war. The title references Phillips' thesis that the war was well underway by 1775. Most histories use the signing of the Declaration of Indepen ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Mmetevelis rated it liked it
This was really two books. The author combined what was a really good analysis of the causes of the revolution with a tortuously fumbling narrative of the first year of the war. The individual insights the author had into the causes and realities of the conflict were excellent - especially in identifying both the social and political energy and cohesion of the revolutionary movement. However, the constant way that the author repeats himself, cites data instead of expounding on his conclusions, a ...more
Brent Ranalli
Jun 06, 2013 Brent Ranalli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 18th-century
Well-written, fascinating, and convincing: the Declaration of Independence in the summer of 1776 was just one milestone on the path to independence, and the die was cast long before. The opening phase of the war in the "long 1775" (summer of 1774 to spring of 1776) was critical. Philips offers a wealth of detail on economic, political, geopolitical, and religious factors, the fighting on land and sea from the Bahamas to Canada, the race for supplies and munitions, the force of particular persona ...more
David Eppenstein
It would be easy to hate this book. In fact those people that say they hated studying history in school could point to books like this to justify their attitudes. I have always loved history and can't seem to get enough of it. However, this book had me nodding off on more than a few occasions. I give it one star for readability but 5 stars for research and insight which averages to my 3 star rating. To begin with let's start with the title and apparent premise that 1775 is some how unappreciated ...more
I thought this was going to be life story, a persons view (it is a persons view I guess. But i wanted to hear a personal view.. But I am happy with the book..
This is the history at 1775-71776, historic moments as they occurred. For the beginning of militias to the start of uprising. ALOT of interesting historic moments in our past fun interesting facts(how colored and native Americans joined the fight!!! And fought BRAVELY!!! , and many important people!!!(general George Washington an
Jan 12, 2015 Robertmagee32 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever been cornered at a party by someone who is extremely enthusiastic about something with which you're only passingly familiar? It's a conversation you can't politely exit but which only becomes more interesting the further you resign yourself to your captivity. This book works in the same way. At the beginning of my reading I was overwhelmed by Kevin Phillips' ardent analysis of what I had considered arcane. It was only after that I allowed myself to skim his analysis and take a bird ...more
Sally Monaghan
Mar 15, 2013 Sally Monaghan rated it it was ok
I love reading about history, particularly Revolutionary era America. However, I realllllly did not like this book. I did learn some new information about the Revolution, such as the role that the Spanish played, and the twice failed effort of the British to invade the south. That did not make up for the fact that the author provides innumerable tedious details, repeats himself frequently, and, in the end, did not really prove his thesis that the key year for the American Revolution was 1775 and ...more
The author more than makes his point that the American Revolution really began in 1775, not 1776. Phillips is a dogged researcher and goes through infinite details on economics, international politics, the power of early "Manifest Destiny" philosophy, early battles on the sea and land, the Committees of Safety, the strategies to win the hearts and minds of Americans and so much more. I know that I will use this book for reference in years to come. Unfortunately, Phillips does not have the same s ...more
Jan 19, 2013 Maryellen rated it really liked it
This is a critical look at the year prior to the Declaration when war and the separation from England really began. The Declaration, Phillips argues, was just putting a legal hat on it. Phillips takes you through the social strata and who was for which side and why. He breaks it down economically and religiously, down to the occupations of the period.
He talks about the attempt to invade Canada and the race to keep the army supplied in gunpowder. This is a global look at the revolution. It is not
Apr 15, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
The author's point is that July 4, 1776 is an arbitrary date and then he proves it at great length and incredible detail. Seriously. He is a very academic writer who has done his research. I didn't enjoy reading the book because of his writing style. However, he describes the causes of the revolution (which were many that did not include freedom) clearly, and the importance of the southern colonies, specifically Virginia and South Carolina.

This is a book for people who have more patience than I
May 09, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it
Mr. Phillips has written a thorough and encyclopedic account of the events in 1774 and 1775 thta led to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Mr. Phillips' thesis, if I understand it correctly is that the fighting between the unuted colonists and Imperial Britain actually began in 1775. The formal declaration a year later was a legal necessity, according to sme of the revolutionary leaders and ratified a fait accompli. The forces General Washington commanded were from several colonies and con ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Mommalibrarian rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, history
The premise of the book is that 1776 is overrated. The author digs further back for the roots of the revolution and the point at which the balance tilted from forcing change to insisting on independence. The organization is by concept rather than chronological. Each chapter could be published and understood separately. The problem is when you read the book cover to cover there is an incredible amount of repetition and the chronology is hopelessly scrambled. The author did no new primary source r ...more
Glenn Robinson
Dec 15, 2015 Glenn Robinson rated it really liked it
Excellent! Most Americans have a Jeffrey Spiccoli understanding of our War of Independence. "So we thought it was bogus that there was a tax on tea, so we said 'woah, no more, dude!'" This is a well researched and well written book on the period before July 4, 1776. Details of the battles (most not covered in schools), insights into the thinking of the British, how many other countries helped the Patriots, reasons why the same countries refused to help the British.

Public education has failed to
Timmy V
Oct 28, 2015 Timmy V rated it it was ok
I learned quite a bit from this book, despite the fact that I ended up jumping whole pages and half chapters at the end. Unfortunately this was just not a very compelling read. The points made are well made and thoroughly laid out in detail... to the point that the dead horse no longer has any flesh to beat. Unless you are a Revolutionary War scholar it's a stretch to imagine this holding attention for more then fifteen minutes at a time, keeping in mind this is coming from someone who is typica ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Keith rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have always believed in the importance of what went on in the colonies prior to the "real" kickoff to the revolution (i.e. the Declaration of Independence), so to have such an accomplished and erudite author expound upon it was fabulous. I grew up (and once again live in) Massachusetts, so I have been surrounded by the history of the late Colonial period- early Revolution for most of my life. Kevin Phillips brings to life details of that period tha ...more
Dave Schoettinger
Sep 07, 2015 Dave Schoettinger rated it really liked it
Phillips starts with the premise that July 4, 1776 wasn't the beginning of the American Revolution, but the beginning of the end. He describes in detail the heavy lifting done in the 20 months leading up to 7/4/76 that made American independence a fait accompli and resulted in the next five years being an unsuccessful attempt by the British to regain control. If you always thought that the contributions of Connecticut to American independence were understated, Phillips couldn't agree with you mo ...more
May 13, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
Over all I am glad to read this book. It was an interesting analysis to show how the conditions in the colonies had reached a point ripe for revolutionary action. And I certainly learned new information about and had new insights into an era I'm very interested in. Among them, economic, political, social, and religious. As other reviewers have noted, many of the particular political issues are glossed over. I was less concerned about those oversights since the bigger purpose was to show how the ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Colin rated it liked it
Shelves: scholarly-works
Not a bad book, but a bit dry. A look at 1775 as the beginning of the Revolution.
David R.
Oct 13, 2015 David R. rated it liked it
Presumably written as a counterpoint to McCulloch's "1776", Phillips' latest study of early America is predictably heavy in detail, often repetitive, and very windy. What is amusing is that Phillips doggedly pursues a rather esoteric point of debate: that 1775, not 1776 is properly the "Year 1" of American Independence. (The dating of the official Declaration of Independence presumably counts for nothing). In terms of the issues facing historians and students of history this is right up there wi ...more
Laura Picardo
Feb 21, 2013 Laura Picardo rated it liked it
Great info, but the writing was meh.
Coleen Dailey
Jul 23, 2015 Coleen Dailey rated it really liked it
A very interesting read on the year the revolution began. It is filled with a lot of little known facts as well as those that are generally known. It is a dry read, almost like a college text, but it brings to light many things that happened that year that are generally skipped over in textbooks. Although I was aware that early in the Revolution Benedict Arnold was a great patriot and soldier, this book really details just how beneficial he was in the beginning of the war. Well worth the time to ...more
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