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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789
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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (Oxford History of the United States #3)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  4,078 ratings  ·  137 reviews
The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically acclaimed volume--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic.
Beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing to the election of George Washington as first president, Robert Middlekauf
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Paperback, 736 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1982)
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1776 by David McCulloughJohn Adams by David McCulloughAlexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowWashington's Crossing by David Hackett FischerFounding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
Best Books About The American Revolution
13th out of 126 books — 112 voters
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US History Reading List
43rd out of 64 books — 35 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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StoryTellerShannon
This book tends to be tedious even if informative with the occasional social commentary by the author. The typos don't help much either.

That said, there's some really good information here especially about the many battles and fumbles and stumbles made by Washington (mediocre to average military commander, better politician).

Where's a fair assessment of Benedict Arnold's turning on us? Don't expect it within. Middlekauff operates in black and white perspectives especially when it comes to deify
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John
Another excellent entry in the Oxford History of the United States. I didn't personally find it quite as engrossing as "Empire of Liberty" or "What Hath God Wrought," but still extremely interesting and informative. This book goes to some lengths to explain and document just how radical much of America was before the revolution (which flies in the face of some of my collegiate history instructors, who pitched the revolution as more of a minority driven phenomenon). Likewise, it at times adopts a ...more
Jeff
So, you pick up a book about the American Revolution. And the first 20 pages talk about the coming of the war and glosses over such things as the Stamp Act and the Townsend Acts and and the Intolerable Acts and never really discusses anything enough in detail for you to understand who these people (especially in Britain) were and why they kept to a course that angered the colonists and BOOM! You're at Lexington and Concord.

Not this time.

I've been reading history for over 50 years and this is the
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Richard
Several decades ago, editor C. Vann Woodward and his collaborator Richard Hofstadter founded the Oxford History of the U.S. series, to bring rigorous historical scholarship to a wide reading audience. The subject matter would consist of a series of books by distinguished historians, each focusing on an important era of American History, from colonial times to the present day, in random order. Robert Middlekauff produced the first book in the series in 1982; it was expanded and revised into this ...more
James Murphy
Wow. The Glorious Cause is the most comprehensive history of the American Revolution I know. Most general histories of it treat it more as a war and military events rather than as the overall political and social transformation it in fact was. Middlekauff's history covers every aspect of the war. For one thing, he begins the story in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War, when he says the discontent which blossomed into open rebellion began. And he doesn't end his story until 1789 and th ...more
Jeremy Perron
As I continue my march through the ages, where I explore all the historical eras of the United States of America, I finally arrive at the age and event that would create the nation itself. Having finished Fred Anderson Crucible of War, I had already arrived at that generation of Americans, which we would describe as the Founding generation, and they were living under the man they would call tyrant, King George III. As I stated in an earlier post the biggest challenge in this little project is to ...more
Jeff
It was a book with a massive amount of information to grasp and remember but since I love history I gave it my best and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I’m a nerd and a geek when it comes to history, sue me. This audiobook was over 26 hours long but it’s one of the best books I’ve found that really examines in detail the politics, the battles and the personalities of the American Revolution. I found this brief review sums it up better than I could.

There's really almost nothing to criticize in "The Glo
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Bob
A good, solid overview of the American Revolution, but unlike the other books I've read in the Oxford History of the United States, not one I would recommend as an introductory text. Middlekauf seems to assume a prior knowledge about much of the personalities and events of the Revolution, and his narrative can be difficult to follow if you're not already familiar (sometimes very familiar) with the story of American Independence.

His choice of focus was at times curious as well: great detail is p
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Andrew
Gina bought me this book for my Kindle awhile back, as I've expressed greater interest in exploring American history in the past few years.

The Revolutionary period is my favorite period of American history as the "idea" of America continues to exercise a powerful hold on my imagination. Sometimes, I wonder whose side I would have been on had I been alive at the time as the history reveals that it was not all good guys vs. bad guys.

I would not consider this an introduction, but more of a specia
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Clinton Rice
This is my first book review, so the 4-star rating is a little tenuous; the book met many expectations in excellent fashion, but due the complexity of subject matter, there were parts that became a bit disjointed or left me hoping uncertainly that issues would be dealt with later (they almost invariably were, but foreknowledge would have been nice).

There were two primary facets that I cared about: the historical narrative of America's evolution from colonies to functioning nation, and ideologica
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11
NOTE: This was a little more detail here than I wanted, but it was interesting enough to keep me going all the way through. Over the course of two months, I plodded through these six hundred pages with overall less enjoyment than I had hoped for, particularly during the order-of-battle sections, which I’ll admit I skimmed through. In truth I probably only really read about 3/4 of this book.


If for some reason you ever find yourself in the vicinity of my hometown of Buffalo (NY), the coolest thin
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Joel Arnold
I came to this book after reading 1776 by McCullough and wishing I could finish the war. Middlekauff did not disappoint.

This work is certainly written on a scholarly level and Middlekauff is a careful historian. As a result, the book is hardly as entertaining as 1776, but the picture it presents of the era is often more illuminating. Middlekauff includes chapters on religion, domestic life, international events, politics, and culture, in addition to the military events. I finished this book feel
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Dave
This book is an onerous, though rewarding, introductory historical text. It doesn't offer much commentary outside the battles and conventions--though I wouldn't expect as much from a general history from 30 years ago. Middlekauff acquits himself well, and he knows his stuff. The best moments (among the 600+ pages) are when Middlekauff lets his hair down a little bit and gently ribs the Founding Fathers as if they were his old school chums. I read about a half-hour every night (I don't recommend ...more
Kai Palchikoff
The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically acclaimed volume--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic. Beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing to the election of George Washington as first president, Robert Middlekauff offers a panoramic history of the conflict between England and America, highlighting the drama and anguish of the colonial ...more
Philip Knoerzer
Long, thorough book. Many typos in this edition and the index was nearly unusable. I plan to write to the Oxford Press...
All in all, though, it was engaging and once you can hear Middlekauff's "voice" it becomes more readable. The sections on the war were great and the sections on the writing, debating and eventual ratification of the Constitution excellent and illuminating. Who could have imagined that NY and NJ were the original leaders of the states' rights fight?
A.
Oct 21, 2014 A. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
This book is part of the series, "Oxford History of the United States".

I found it curious.

Negatively, it provided very little fresh history of the Revolutionary War, with the exception of the surender at Yorktown; also, I could not follow the battle maps. Having read extensively about the war, it seemed to me that the treatment of important campaigns was missing or deficient.

Positively, it explicated at great length how the war came about and its major consequence, namely, the Constitution. The
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Diana (Bever) Barber
When I saw the title of this book, I thought, "Wow, I bet this will be a four or five-star hit for me!" I'm ordinarily fascinated by history and especially recently by American History. However, I'm sad to report that this hefty tome was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn't help feeling this "narrative history at its best" was really a droning professor's efforts to engage his class in a detailed expository of American History (1763-1789). Perhaps my view is skewed and I had best try to read it ...more
Jack Hrkach
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It is not exactly written in academese - then it would have been unbearable (yes, even to this academic) but the style and language is high-flown and more than a tad pompous, which at times made me want to put the book down (well, put my Kindle down, for that is the edition I read, my eyes these days unable to deal with small print) and find another history of the Revolution.

As to content, Middlekauff spends much time, perhaps too much time (?) on the
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Troy Rodgers
In gearing up for the upcoming July 4th holiday, I decided to revisit the Colonial effort for Independence. These days I think the hardest thing about finding a book that covers this subject is that politics often comes into play. Either the Founders can do no wrong, and their mission was ordained by Providence, or the story's focus will shift to spotlight the atrocities of the era such as slavery or the incompetence of command decisions. Fair and balanced is something that's difficult to find s ...more
David
Part of the Oxford History of the United States, this is the 2nd edition of the title and has been extensively revised. It's a challenging read. SPOILER-The British lose.
Diane
Wow, I never knew how much I didn't know! Still couldn't pass a quiz on the American Revolution though. Liked the tangents more than battle descriptions.
Jim Jones
Very engaging story - almost reads like a novel. A couple of nits bothered me...first, IMHO the author spent too much time on the Stamp Act of 1763 and other causes leading up to the war (about 140+ pages). Good background info, but a little long. Second thing was that it wasn't always clear which battle he was describing. He'd refer to a location and talk about what went on...maybe I'm thick-headed but I would have preferred a more explicit approach, like "the battle of Bunker Hill started on x ...more
Nishant
The American Revolution in a single 700-page volume. A little dense, but well worth the effort.
Lindsay Luke
This is a very informative history of the American Revolution. It starts in the 1750s and covers the events leading to the war, the politics and battles of the war itself, as well as the aftermath of the war. I was familiar with the factors leading to the war, but not as familiar with the military history outside of the few famous battles. The book helped bring it all together for me. I listened to the audio book, and while I generally enjoyed it, it was complicated to follow in this format. I l ...more
Matthew
After enjoying several other books in the "Oxford History of the United States" series, this was a huge let down. Although it bills itself as a history of the "American Revolution," it is primarily just a play-by-play on the various battles in the Revolutionary War. Very little about the politics, or really anything else that was happening in the country more than 10 feet away from George Washington between 1776 and 1783. Sure, the war is important, but was there nothing else going on?

Also, the
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Matt
Middlekauff's history of the American Revolution describes why British colonists joined in opposition to their mother country and how they remained united to form a nation. The book shows the Revolution to have been an intellectual journey as much as a military conflict. His examination of the postwar period that gave rise to The Constitution and The Federalist Papers that defended it illustrate the careful thought our founding fathers gave to to the creation of the nation.

When reading about the
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Caesar Augustus
Absolutely incredible. This book is a completely satisfying, exhaustively rich & thorough intellectual presentation of the culmination of events that encompass the history of the American Revolutionary War.

The writing style is of the highest intellectual fashion, etiquette, and shimmering fluidity like an intellectual Mozart masterpiece performed in the moonlight. Fluid, rich, comprehensively informative, meticulously detailed, & exemplifies panoramic views from all angles & perspec
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K.H.
This book reminds me of what Philip Larkin once said about life, it has a "beginning, a muddle and an end".

The Glorious Cause starts off well enough, setting up the basics and giving an overview of the main players – but then it degenerates into a rambling, directionless description of minor skirmishes and troop movements. A good 300+ pages could have greatly benefitted from an editor who thought on the reader's behalf (and one that could have pointed out that Rhode Island is not an island.) Th
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Jim
This book is considered a standard history of the American Revolution, but I found it slow going at times. The entries in the various Oxford history series are all solid works, but some are better reads than others.

The problem I had with this book stems from my philosophy of history. I think that while there are forces beyond individual control, most of history derives from collective choices people make. Some people, the great and famous, have more impact on history, but these "great men" exist
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Brian
Glorious Cause does an excellent job of proposing a theory about the early years of the republic. America's struggle for independence was seen in the eyes of many as a cause to be one. It was pure and idealistic. Its values were entrenched in our battles and fighting spirit. While this book does focus quite a bit on the military content as others have pointed out it lives up to the series expectations. Overall this book conveys a sense of American history that is lost in most books talking about ...more
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disccuss the glorious cause 1 30 Oct 22, 2007 04:21AM  
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