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The First Salute

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,342 ratings  ·  68 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 2,417)
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"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 Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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,
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.
Enjoyable history of American Revolution with strong focus on the European involvements and very little on many of the commonly known battles.
Steven Peterson
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
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
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
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.
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.
A look at the colonies from a perspective I hadn't considered before. Appreciated the view.
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
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
Apr 05, 2012 Rw rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.

Justina Spencer
This book is full of detailed information on the American Revolution. It is well researched. However, it jumps around throughout the time period which becomes confusing at times. It also was at times kind of boring because it had so much detail. I liked Tuchman's book "The Guns of August" much better. I didn't think the conclusion was all that profound, just your typical 'America struggles to become a good nation ignoring minorities etc.' If you want to learn more about the American Revolution a ...more
A good 4th of July read. "The First Salute" is written by someone who values the intellects and ambitions of our founding fathers and shows the rich contrast they made versus the leading minds of their day.

Tuchman engages in another of her powerful discussions of history. Again the theme of ossified standards leading to the downfall of the powerful is explored. Instead of the knight and decentralized feudal society (as in "A Distant Mirror")it is the man-of-war and the slowly rotting administrat
Barbara Tuchman was at her best in this work, moving away from the standard land battles of the American War of Independence and covering what was happening at sea and in Europe. Always heavily researched, yet always readable...pity she is no longer with us.
Tim Smith
Ive always wanted to better understand the real reasons for British loss of America - this book does that - without French arms, money, leadership - no United States. Of course the British greatly contributed by their lack of leadership and commitment.
Sometimes I found this book really boring, I'll be honest. But it IS interesting to read (or in this case listen to) a book from an unfamiliar perspective. A lot more was going on during the American Revolution than just the usual things we know as Americans (Washington, Valley Forge, Bunker Hill, etc.). This book takes a more global perspective, and focuses on how the British, French, and Dutch were interacting with the Americans and each other.

Davina Porter narrates the audio book and she is
Buddy Don
Nice little book about a part of the American Revolution that I knew little about before reading this book. I like it because it has wonderful maps, a great bibiliography, useful notes, and interesting illustrations, in addition to being a fun read. It's a good reminder of just how dependent the rebels were on help from France.
"Revolutions produce other men, not new men. Half way between truth and endless error, the mold of the species is permanent. That is earth’s burden." Barbara Tuchman, the First Salute

Very good book. Tuchman, as usual does an excellent job with perspective. She reminds us, with our insulated view of history, that the U.S. Was not the center of the universe, the ultimate prize that we imagine ourselves back then and now.
John P
An excellent read for anyone interested in the American Revolution. Barbara Tuchman is an excellent author. I would recommend anything she has written.
Paul Hammer
Tuchman is always a fun read. Nice overview of the American Revolution and a good companion to her book, March of Folly.
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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...
The Guns of August A Distant Mirror:  The Calamitous 14th Century The Proud Tower : A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam The Zimmermann Telegram

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“Preconceived, fixed notions can be more damaging than cannon.” 3 likes
“Pessimism is a primary source of passivity,” 1 likes
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