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

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,802 Ratings  ·  156 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
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 ChernowFounding Brothers by Joseph J. EllisWashington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Best Books About The American Revolution
10th out of 135 books — 124 voters
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US History Reading List
16th out of 71 books — 47 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
May 10, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2015 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2015
A fantastic look at the American Revolution. This is the ONE book to read if you are fresh off the boat and looking for early American History. It is Vol 3. of the eventual 12 volume Oxford History of the United States (although it was first to be published). Middlekauff is balanced in his approach. He isn't looking to reinvent, revise, or revoke history. But you can't just call what he does a summary. His narrative captures the brilliance of, and the almost accidental start of, the American Rep ...more
Oct 05, 2011 John rated it really liked it
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
Nov 13, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2011 James Murphy rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2013 Jeff rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 08, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
I liked "The Glorious Cause" a lot, finding it as complete a history of Revolutionary period of the United States as I've found. Robert Middlekauff, the author, presents a well researched factual account which spans the time period from roughly the French and Indian War until the ratification of the constitution. This was not a fight between two homogeneous sides; there were actually four sides in the fight, Patriots and Tories in America, pro-war and anti-war factions in England. All are well r ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Clinton Rice
Feb 14, 2012 Clinton Rice rated it really liked it
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
May 16, 2015 11 rated it liked it
Shelves: glimmer-of-hope
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
Joel Arnold
Nov 29, 2011 Joel Arnold rated it really liked it
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
Dec 15, 2009 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009, history
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
Nov 16, 2014 Kai Palchikoff rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Jun 19, 2015 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-military
On one hand, this is the best single volume history of the American Revolution I have ever read. On the other hand, I found myself disappointed in some cases where I thought the author hurried through some topics that deserved much more attention - but then again I would have gladly read 1,000 well written pages on this topic so my critique may actually be a positive for some readers wanting an abbreviated tour. It was fascinating and informative throughout - most of it was absolutely five-star ...more
Michael A
May 31, 2015 Michael A rated it liked it
I possibly read this book too fast, but I had originally planned on finishing it much sooner. Despite the speed, I found it to be a helpful reminder about what passes for the official, slightly revisionist and corrected, version of early American history before and after the revolution.

It has three distinct parts. The first covers the period of time directly after the Seven Years War up to the start of the problems in Boston -- it is about one-third of the book and possibly a bit too detailed, t
Bill V
Feb 03, 2016 Bill V rated it liked it
Most books on history, especially history involving combat or warfare, usually also include the politics and/or economic circumstances that were also involved.
This book is no different although I found the political aspects to be drier than most other books I've read. Politics were more prominent in this conflict as the United States struggled to gain freedom and chart its own political path.
One thing that surprised me about the battles of the war is that many of them were quite small. The oppos
Oct 21, 2014 A. rated it liked it
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
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
Feb 08, 2015 Jack Hrkach rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
May 26, 2009 David rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 03, 2011 Diane rated it liked it
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
Feb 22, 2015 Jim Jones rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2012 Nishant rated it really liked it
The American Revolution in a single 700-page volume. A little dense, but well worth the effort.
Lindsay Luke
Jul 07, 2014 Lindsay Luke rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened
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
Aug 10, 2015 Samantha rated it liked it
I think it took about three months, but I've finally finished this beastly tome chronicling the American Revolution in immense detail. For me it was a disappointment, despite the fact that the author did a remarkable job in his depth, breadth, and accuracy of information.

No one will ever accuse Middlekauff of not being thorough, that's for certain. And the quality of the information he provides in The Glorious Cause is indisputably excellent. But as far as how this actually reads?'s a
Oct 23, 2014 Matthew rated it it was ok
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
Jun 10, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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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disccuss the glorious cause 1 31 Oct 22, 2007 04:21AM  
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  • The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861
  • Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign That Won the Revolution
  • American Colonies: The Settling of North America
  • The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown
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  • The Americans, Vol. 1: The Colonial Experience
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  • American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic

Other Books in the Series

Oxford History of the United States (8 books)
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  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
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  • Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974
  • Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore
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“The cause of liberty, he wrote, had always attracted “knaves” and “Qua[c]ks in Politics,” “Impostors in Patriotism” who imposed upon the “credulity of the well-meaning deluded Multitude.” 0 likes
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