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The First Salute

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,583 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Barbara W. Tuchman, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the classic The Guns of August, turns her sights homeward with this brilliant, insightful narrative of the Revolutionary War.

In The First Salute, one of America’s consummate historians crafts a rigorously original view of the American Revolution. Barbara W. Tuchman places the Revolution in the context of the centuri
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 6th 1989 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 15, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"First Salute" is the best book I've read on the American Revolution. It starts with a mistaken cannon salute by an obscure cannoneer in a Dutch port in the Carribean which inadvertently recognizes the government of the rebelling colonies which is an insult to England which leads to war between England, France and the Netherlands which leads to a fleet being sent by France. The French fleet stops in Cuba and receives news that George Washington wants to move the army from New York to Yorktown to ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.75* of five

The American Revolution is so often romanticized and distorted by the political needs of Government and Policy that its reality, a ragtag rebellion of seditious wealthy men subsidized by the long-term enemies of England, gets completely lost. Tuchman, in her trademark popular-narrative, chatty style, reminds us that, had things gone a different way, we'd be *horrified* at the foolhardy yahoos who thought they could break the safe, profitable cocoon of Empire.

It's why I enjoy
Jul 07, 2012 Jerome rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call me a traditionalist, but I think it is reasonable to assume that a book promising to be about the American Revolution, even one claiming a "fresh approach", should have more than a passing reference to the battle for American independence. Instead, Barbara Tuchman has given us a very scholarly and well-researched discourse on the Dutch and British navies, with an occasional mention of the conflict in the colonies. Ms. Tuchman wants to demonstrate the importance of the Dutch navy, the Dutch' ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 11, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I first got turned on to Barbara Tuchman by Richard Hyde back in high school, reading her The Proud Tower and The Guns of August at the time. Since then I've kept my eyes open for more of her titles, reading March of Folly, Stilwell, Distant Mirror and The First Salute over the years.

This book contextualizes the American Revolution within the broader canvas of intra-European conflicts of the eighteenth century, using as its device the first recognistion of the new American republic by the Dutch
Nov 18, 2013 GoldGato rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, summer, war
Tuchman delivers a history of the American Revolution with a perspective on repercussions for Europe. She sees the War of American Independence as the beginning of the modern Western world, where inflamed passions would presage the upheavals of the nineteenth century. She makes an excellent example of France, which in coming to the aid of the colonists, basically bankrupted herself and set the stage for her own revolution, just around the corner.

Given the large sweep of history to be explored,
May 12, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
What an eye-opening account of the American Revolution! Who knew the Dutch played such an important role? It's an facet sadly left out of history lessons today.

Plus, the author herself had such a light touch, making history accessible to the general public. Her skill at prose brought history back to life.
Jun 16, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable history of American Revolution with strong focus on the European involvements and very little on many of the commonly known battles.
Jun 16, 2016 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book of Barbara Tuchman that I read and the irony for me is that this is the last one she wrote prior to her death in 1988. I have had Ms. Tuchman’s books on the radar for quite some time and I am hoping to get to her book “Guns of August” before the end of this year or early 2017. Ms. Tuchman had dedicated this book to her four grandchildren – keeping this thought in mind I could see clearly how she was also attempting to teach her grandchildren the finer more detailed levels ...more
Steven Peterson
Jul 01, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
This is an interesting take on the American Revolution. It unfolds in a discursive, indirect manner, so that getting from A (a cannon salute by the French colony at St. Eustatius in the West Indies to an American ship, representing the first recognition of the revolutionary government) to Z (Washington's triumph at Yorktown) is nonlinear.

Sometimes this is frustrating, as one asks: "Where is this narrative leading us?" But Tuchman writes well (one time, she associated an army marching ahead, livi
Au Yong Chee Tuck
On 16 November 1776, the little known port of Saint Eustatius fired her guns in salute to the American vessel "Andrew Doria." The vessel then entered the port while bearing the red and white flag of the newest country in the world, the Continental Congress. This was the incident that marked the "First Salute" by a foreign port to the United States of America.
This book looked at the naval events during the American Revolution. However, unlike most other naval histories of the period, Ms Tuchman d
Jan 22, 2016 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Barbara W. Tuchman wrote a new view of history following the Revolution War time with a focus on world naval powers. Her writing tells the story of how the power from of the seas went from Spain to the Dutch, from the Dutch to the British, from the British to the French and the effects these changes had upon the United States before, during and after the Revolution.

The first country to recognize the United States as independent from Great Britain with a salute of cannon fire were the Dutch at a
Nov 26, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled A View of the American Revolution, it examines the affair from points not usually considered - the Dutch, the French, the English. Heck, Ben Franklin and John Adams only make cameo appearances in this book, and George Washington plays a key role, but remains on the periphery for the first 3/4 of the history. A lot of really interesting insight into politics and military strategy, and Tuchman loves to drop in highly quotable sentences to her descriptions. I'll leave you with this excell ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Kcatty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-done, i-has-it, history
The point of this book was to show the effects of the American Revolution on European geopolitics, and I don't think Tuchman did it quite as effectively as she could have.

The problem is that the book doesn't really talk about European politics. Sure, there's a lot about the Dutch and the British, but for the influence they had in the Revolution the Spanish and French are definitely not given their due, and the other two European powers at the time - the Prussians and the Russians - are barely me
Raymond Hwang
Feb 18, 2012 Raymond Hwang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read books that tell the usual information about the American Revolution but this book takes a fresh look at a perspective from the naval point of view. This book emphasizes the contribution of the Dutch and the French to the cause of independence. If you are a fan of this period, then your education is incomplete without this book.
Graham Polando
The subtitle here is "a view of the American Revolution," and it's certainly a unique and valuable one. The book focuses on the Revolution from a European perspective, which helps put the War in context and makes its outcome seem far less pre-ordained. It also emphasizes the "strange bedfellows" nature of the War, where the Netherlands and France both had odd and perhaps ultimately counter-productive reasons for supporting the colonies.

That counter-productivity is of course a focus for the misan
Jun 07, 2010 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about the historical context of my nation's birth from this book than I learned in my schooling. I have read many of Tuchman's books, and was not disappointed with this one. Her popular histories have a nice flow, and she doesn't pad the book with poetic attempts to put the reader into the scene.
W.C. Clinton
Jan 27, 2016 W.C. Clinton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book by Barbara Tuchman, this time a history of the American Revolution. However, the focus is from an unusual vantage for an American - Tuchman provides the history of how the Revolution was perceived and fit into the economic and political agendas of the European powers. The titular salute was provided by the Dutch for an American ship entering one of its Caribbean ports, and marked the first official recognition of the United States as an entity by a foreign power. Tuchman e ...more
Bonnie Carruth
Wonderful book. Wanders into places you would think have nothing to do with American Revolution but then ties it up very neatly. Worth the time and effort.
Feb 10, 2008 Flan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A look at the colonies from a perspective I hadn't considered before. Appreciated the view.
Aug 15, 2015 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The First Salute" is a terrific story of our American Revolution! Great Britain was unable to deliver the decisive stroke to quash the rebels...and it was so confident it would that she willingly engaged in wars with three other countries at the same time she was fighting to put down the revolution in America.

It seemed hard to believe that the British Generals and Admirals running the war effort for Britain were unwilling to make decisive decisions on war strategy.

"Pessimism is a primary sourc
Mark Stidham
Mar 26, 2016 Mark Stidham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The re-read reconfirmed my five-star rating. Tuchman's style is vivid, original, and compelling. She sets the scene, including pithy sketches of the cast of characters in the action, then uses quotations and detailed descriptions from the sources, creating tension that makes the reader wondering what happens next. Most satisfying is how she then steps back from the event to ask, "What were they thinking?" Then there are offered intelligent guesses, some ruled in, others ruled out, and often conc ...more
Simon Dobson
Oct 31, 2015 Simon Dobson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A broad and fast-moving account of the endgame in the American War of Independence.

I'm an enormous fan of Tuchman, but this is far from being her best work. She still has the same eye for detail, same same telling turn of phrase, but the narrative is a little confused and the timeline hard to follow. She deals with some of the same issues in The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, a much better book. I think the weakness in this book stems from her taking an explicitly American perspective ("o
Lissa Notreallywolf
It's been a long time since I read anything pertaining to the Revolutionary War, except Ezra's Stile's literary journal, more recently. While I enjoyed an excellent American history teacher in high school, that was a very long time ago, and I don't recall the focus on the Revolutionary period as much as other aspects of American history. This book makes critical connections with Europe, something I was hoping to find, although I picked the book because of Tuchman's well earned reputation as a hi ...more
Abigail Hartman
An interesting look at the American Revolution, though I confess I wasn't entirely sure what Tuchman's main point was. She begins with the first official recognition of American sovereignty, the salute of the guns of St. Eustatius; moves on to show the connection in revolution and republicanism between the Netherlands and the rebellious Colonies; and then shifts again to talk about Britain's sea-power, her handling of the war, and French intervention. The perspective is very broad in scope, addr ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I have read nearly all of this author’s historical works; and after a slow start, I really enjoyed reading this one about the American Revolution and the effects it had on most of the other Western countries besides Great Britain. (At one point, Empress Catherine II of Russia (Catherine the Great) offered to mediate the disputes between Great Britain and her American colonies.)

Generally, the book covers the period from 1776 to 1781, and covers the salute to the American colors of the Andrew Dori
Willis Whitlock
Not her best book. Still, a useful perspective on the Revolution

I found Tuchman's writing to be less compelling than other books she authored. Some sections are repetitive and move slowly. The first few chapters describing the Dutch role and other nations perspectives were new to me. I nearly gave up finishing by the last. She became as ponderous and hesitant as many of the commanders she indicted.
Apr 05, 2012 Rw rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Rw by: heard a review on NPR Radio years ago.
The author tell us a new story of the birth of a nation. The Revolutionary War in America was won through the arrogance and incompetence of the British to take the Colonies seriously. Dutch support and direct French intervention were of immense value to the American's; however, the Americans received this support more to antagonize the British than to help the budding new country in the New World. Notwithstanding the ultimate motives of the countries that helped American, Barbara Tuchman shows t ...more
Michael Hettinger
Sep 09, 2015 Michael Hettinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a traditional history of the Revolutionary War. Tuchman digs into some facets of the Revolution about which I knew very little, such as the critical role of Dutch merchants in providing gunpowder and ammunition before the French intervened. Lots of interesting detail on the Revolution's naval aspects. I'll definitely be revisiting this one.
This is the third book I have read from Barbara Tuchman. The setting is the American Revolutionary War, yet the book is more about Dutch and French contributions to American Independence. What started at Lexington and Concord blossomed into a major European conflict when the Bourbon powers joined the nascent Colonial forces. Barbara Tuchman describes the conflicts in the West Indies, the financial and military Dutch support, and the English naval and army commanders that ultimately lost the war. ...more
Matthew Hines
Aug 21, 2014 Matthew Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always enjoyed reading Barbara Tuchman's books, and this one is no exception. She gives an original account of the American Revolution and it's effect on the world around us.

I am a lover of the historically obscure fact and how a small deed had huge repercussions on history. This book is replete with such deeds.

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Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was an American self-trained historian and author. She became best known for The Guns of August, a history of the prelude and first month of World War I.

As an author, Tuchman focused on producing popular history. Her clear, dramatic storytelling covered topics as diverse as the 14th century and World War I, and sold millions of copies.
More about Barbara W. Tuchman...

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“Pessimism is a primary source of passivity,” 5 likes
“Preconceived, fixed notions can be more damaging than cannon.” 5 likes
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