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The American Revolution
Gordon S. Wood
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The American Revolution (Modern Library Chronicles #9)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,039 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Gordon S. Wood's The American Revolution, part of the Modern Library Chronicles series, is an erudite, concise summary of the events and circumstances surrounding the seminal conflict, both physical and philosophical, in American history. The Modern Library Chronicles are accessible-but-serious works of scholarship, meant to serve as introductions (or refresher courses) on ...more
Published (first published January 1st 2002)
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Dec 02, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it
This is a short book. It isn't about the Revolutionary War (although the war is part of it). It's about all the revolutions in government, economics, culture, and society that we ordinary folk clump together and misinterpret when we refer to the American Revolution. The Revolution was anything but a military revolution; in fact, it was a revolution in just about everything but that. And the author does a fantastic job of revealing just how revolutionary the Revolution was.

It's a quick read and
Oct 26, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: U.S. citizens - bone up on your history!
Shelves: unfinished, own
After my undergraduate history degree focusing on the American Revolution, this book is a nice overview now that I am 3 years out of college. It's an easy read without too many names and dates to make your eyes glaze over. He does lean heavily towards Ben Franklin, but that is only natural as he has done biographies on the man. Rather than get caught up in the details of the Revolution, the reader sees the big picture and how the events relate to one another.
Apr 12, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Wood, considered by many to be one of the better historians of the American Revolution, has written perhaps the classic summary of the conflict that founded one nation,ended the first empire of another and has changed the world. What sets this book, at less than a 170 pages, is its conciseness and ability to sum up many and large complicated issues well.

Wood does a wonderful job if explaining how a struggle between 13 of Britain's 21 North American colonies was virtually inevitable due
Nick Smith
Jul 09, 2012 Nick Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At a little less than 170 pages, this volume on The American Revolution is perfect for any amateur historian. Not only does it describe the calamitous war which broke out first at Lexington and Concord, but it also painstakingly details the contentious array of events which impelled the American people to their separation with Great Britain. Drawing on a number of decades as a professor of history, Wood is able to be what he is: an expert on the Revolutionary period. Wood then goes on to describ ...more
James Smith
Oct 19, 2015 James Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great primer for someone whose high school education took place in Canada; probably a good refresher for others. Succinct overview from pre-Revolutionary background to ratification of the Constitution by a scholar who wrote one of the definitive histories. I learned more than I care to admit. ;-)
Oct 09, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, history
I was looking for a brief overview of the American Revolution, and I found it. It is hard to believe that so much information and insight can be found in just 165 pages.

Gordon S. Wood's The American Revolution: A History summarizes the events surrounding the revolution, and places them in a context that you do not get in K-12 education. Many of the details are not given. For example, why a certain battle was not won, etc. Those are details for other books. What I found here was the societal and
Jenni Lithgow
Dec 22, 2008 Jenni Lithgow rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I should preface this review by saying, the only history books I read are biographies. I find them completely absorbing, so I thought I'd enjoy some "overall history" books. But, either history books just aren't as great as biographies, or this book was sort of total crap.

More specifically. . .

I felt like it was way too much information crammed in to way too short of a volume (only 166 pages). Clearly, the goal here was to give a brief overview, but instead of being a scratch-the-surface sort of
Greg Brown
Jan 09, 2011 Greg Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliantly compact general survey of the American Revolution, starting with the factors that led up to it and ending with the ratification of the constitution. Speaking as someone whose elementary, middle, and high schools covered it mostly on a military and mythic level - with the historiography stalled out somewhere in the 19th century - the book did an amazing job of illustrating the true variety of causes and contexts that this seminal event held. I know most readers come at this subject ...more
Feb 02, 2009 Jc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful short introduction/summary/review (depending on your level of history reading) of the Revolutionary period in America. The book is more than the title promises. It doesn't just outline the war. In fact, the actual Revolution takes up only a small portion of the book. The rest is telling what lead to the war, what life was like for those who lived in the soon-to-be United States at the time, and how the Revolution changed the politics, economy, and daily life of Americans, and how it ...more
Mark Valentine
Jul 20, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle for Wood's primer on the American Revolution should include...'and its greatest result: the U. S. Constitution.' The second half of the history relates path the 13 State Constitutions took which led to the Articles of Confederation which led to the U. S. Constitution. As a social, cultural, and political history, Wood accomplishes much in this brief study.

[Aside: Recently it seems vogue for Presidential candidates to campaign on making America safe but when the new Presidents places
Christopher Blosser
A concise history of the American Revolution, focused not so much on the military conflict (which receives attention in only a single chapter) but rather its intellectual underpinnings and the social-political changes wrought by the conflict. What is impressive is the amount of attention equally distributed among so many pertinent topics (the question of slavery, the role and fate of Indians, post-revolutionary expansion into the West; the plight of the loyalists; religious affairs and economic ...more
Scott Thompson
Jul 29, 2015 Scott Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In college, one of my history professors was adamant that a real revolution is a complete change. The term revolution is overused today. But the American Revolution was a true revolution because it was a complete change from the way things had been. The world changed with the Revolutionary War in America. It wasn’t just that a new country was founded, but that new attitudes and ideas about government, society, and freedom were rooted. Many of the new ideas took time to develop, but they were fir ...more
Bob Mobley
Aug 18, 2014 Bob Mobley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gordon Wood has written a superb, concise, thoughtful and analytical study of the American Revolution that is definitely worth reading. This book is part of the Modern Library Chronicles that feature concise studies by leading authorities in their disciplines. Professor Gordon Wood is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his studies of "The Radicalism of the American Revolution." Drawing upon his deep knowledge of the resources relating to the American Revolution, Professor Wood has written an elegant sy ...more
Mark Geise
Jul 02, 2016 Mark Geise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The American Revolution: A History” by Gordon Wood is an enjoyable little read that drives home the point that the American Revolution was about much more than an armed conflict between a colony and its mother country. The Revolution was a culmination of multiple trends in the United States, Britain, and the western world as a whole.

Wood also does a good job explaining the transition from a weak confederation to a stronger federal government. I think he is a bit too sympathetic to the belief t
SJ Loria
Jan 10, 2010 SJ Loria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most concise, bang for your buck, and informative history of the American Revolution. Each chapter is meticulously researched, wonderfully presented and careful to provide multiple perspectives. This is the kind of history book with no "filler" text or unnecessary rambling. It's almost as if you could underline every sentence because each has so much to offer. This book is outstanding.
Pete Stevenson
Sep 06, 2007 Pete Stevenson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
This is the best American Revolution review book there is. It does not go into depth on any one subject, but it explains everything very easily, and is very short (~200 pages).
Bill Homan
Dec 16, 2015 Bill Homan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harvard's G. S. Wood gives us an excellent, compact social history of the American Revolution. We learn all of the events that lead up to the war and the forefather's original intent on forming America. Thomas Jefferson would be horrified to see what has become of his Enlightenment ideals! Then Wood proceeds through the battles of the 8 year war, the creation of the Articles of Confederation and finally the Constitution. He gives an insight of what it was like to live in those times and how the ...more
Kevin Burrell
Jul 05, 2016 Kevin Burrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A history-professor friend recommended this to me. It's an excellent overview of the Revolution that stays high-level without being overly simplistic. It goes well beyond the Revolutionary War itself (a scant 14 pages: I do wish a bit more time had been spent on the military aspects of the Revolution) and discusses attitudes and motivations, both before and after victory. Its discussion of the 'Connecticut Compromise' and the replacing of the Articles of Confederation with our Constitution was e ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. A great deal of information in a short book that reads reasonably well. Provides what you might call a 'deep', if brief, treatment of the revolutionary era (from the decades of colonial protest proceeding the war through the Federalist vs Anti-Federalist debate over the constitution). In other words, he focuses more on the broad demographic, economic, and social forces that precipitated the break with Great Britain and similiarly the economic and social effects of the revolution, rath ...more
Sep 06, 2008 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Wood, Gordon S. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: A History. (2002). ****. If you are looking for a rehash of the battles of the Revolution, this is not the place to look. Instead, what we get from Professor Wood is a sociological history of America from about 1760 to about 1789. This summing up of the relationship of our young country’s political thinking vs. traditional ideas of government is a fascinating account of a new mindset shaped by the circumstances of our development as a community. The actua ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Gordon Wood is the Dean of US Revolutionary history. This book, roughly 166 pages of text, demonstrates while that title is so rightly bestowed. This text, as part of series exploring great topic of world history, is dense and would appeal to an audience who wants to explore a specific era of history in a greater depth.

I feel I am generally well-read in this era, however, I picked up quite a bit, factually and interpretively. Not only does Wood explore the political, he explores the impact of t
Gordon S. Wood’s The American Revolution: A History provides a pleasantly swift account of the conflicts and motivations of the period from 1760 to 1790. Its language is simple and straightforward, and the organization of the book is logical and precise. Altogether, its pace and elementary approach provides for an entertaining read.

The work’s objectives, according to Wood, are: “How the Revolution came about, what its character was, and what its consequences were – not whether it was good or bad
Dec 08, 2011 Hanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The American Revolution

Wood attempts to survey the most important aspects of the American Revolution without trying to argue whether or not the consequences of the Revolution were good or bad. His reasoning for this, which is explained in the preface of the book, is that “the history of the American Revolution...ought not to be viewed as a story of right and wrong or good and evil from which moral lessons are to be drawn” (xxv, Wood). However, his main argument is that the democracy that forme
I read this book for my book report. Here is my analysis, taken straight from my book report (which is not completely finished as of 7/9/09 but whatever. The analysis is always easiest to do, cuz all you have to do is say how much you hated the book and thought it was horrible or how much you loved the book and think everyone should read it).

I sort of liked this book and sort of wanted to bury it in the dark and leafy depths of my overgrown backyard and never look at it again. Some part
May 26, 2008 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction, class
It's very textbooky-- my professor says that this is because it is actually taken from a real textbook that Wood wrote for. Furthermore, it's a super-simplification of a lot of the stuff I've spent the past ten weeks studying in real depth, so it seemed very superficial to me.
I like a lot of wood's stuff-- I really don't see why so many thinkers are attacking him and the other Ideologists so much lately. I mean, they were all on some level a reaction to the Charles Beard crowd, yes, so they s
Violet Clouds
Jul 13, 2016 Violet Clouds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent re-introduction to the history of the American Revolution having studied it a long time ago. It covered the political and social environment that built to open rebellion, gave details of the battles fought and the leading figures involved in leading the country to victory. It is a short history which gives a comprehensive overview of the subject.
Apr 08, 2014 Garrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an exceptional, concise history of the American Revolution. Wood covers the periods before during and after the revolution in a very well-developed manner. If you are looking for an in-depth approach, this is not the book for you. However, if you wanted to have a great overview, pick up this volume. It is highly engaging and Wood's analysis of the figures and the factors is illuminating.
Josh McConnell
After reading the popular 1776 by David McCullough, which largely focuses on the one year of war, I wanted to step back and read about The American Revolution as a whole. I didn't need every nitty gritty detail, as I got that in other books. I found exactly what I was looking for with Gordon S. Wood's The American Revolution: A History.

It's short and sweet, which was admittedly an appeal for me. Though there is certainly a chunk of text on the war itself, the book more focuses on the bigger pict
Sarah Milne
Jun 06, 2010 Sarah Milne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About a week ago I had to sum up the period proceeding the Revolutionary War and leading through the ratification of the Constitution for a student I was tutoring. It had been a while since I had done that, and it felt dicey - not that she could tell, but it bothered me. So I decided a refresher was in order. I recalled reading this brilliant little book as a graduate student, so I pulled it off my shelf. Wood is a supreme historian and expert on the Revolutionary era. I give him full marks for ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to imagine a book doing a better job of what Wood sets out to do here: namely, provide an overview of the social, political, military, and philosophical aspects of the Revolution in under 200 pages. Although the book is high-level by design, you never get the impression that Wood is oversimplifying or dumbing down his discussion. Highly recommended.
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Gordon S. Wood is Professor of History at Brown University. He received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution and the 1970 Bancroft Prize for The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 .
More about Gordon S. Wood...

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