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A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783
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A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  100 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
In this highly acclaimed book, Charles Royster explores the mental processes and emotional crises that Americans faced in their first national war. He ranges imaginatively outside the traditional techniques of analytical historical exposition to build his portrait of how individuals and a populace at large faced the Revolution and its implications.
Paperback, 463 pages
Published September 9th 1996 by University of North Carolina Press (first published 1980)
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Sean Chick
A classic work of new military history. Ignore reviewers who proclaim this work as a rehash of the founding mythology. This book challenges the myth that the people won the war by showing just how lacking many of the people were in their commitment to victory. The army won the war (and France!) but the people wrote the myth we live by today. If I have a gripe it is that Royster, like many other historians, has ignored the fact that many American soldiers did defect to the British. Nevertheless, ...more
Robert Speziale
Jan 09, 2017 Robert Speziale rated it liked it
The author, to his credit uses nothing but primary sources to paint a historically accurate picture of Revolutionary era America, but in the process sacrifices what could be a lively narrative to instead burden the reader with numerous hypotheses and opinions. A tedious read at times.
Lauren Albert
Jul 07, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it liked it
Shelves: history-american
A surprisingly negative book. Certainly a different angle than any I've read before. Royster writes about difficulties with recruitment (demands for bounties, refusal to commit to over a year of service, etc.), desertion (a 20-25% average apparently) and lack of discipline. From his description, the problem was a kind of libertarianism plus an intense distrust of standing armies. Peoples' actions didn't live up to their ideals but they thought ideals were enough. That is Royster's view anyway, " ...more
Apr 08, 2016 Jan rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Charles Royster’s A Revolutionary People at War documents the ideological, structural, and psychological changes experienced by the Continental Army between 1775 and 1783. Royster argues that what drove those changes was the conflict between revolutionary ideals, and the realities that forced different groups of revolutionaries to make compromises that undermined those ideals. Further, he argues that by “creating, recruiting, and fighting in an army” (p. viii). Americans defined and refined a sh ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Seth rated it really liked it
From beginning to end, Charles Royster’s A Revolutionary People at War is an analysis of Americans and their revolutionary ideals in relation to the war to defeat the British army and secure independence from 1775 to 1783. This comparative study takes an in-depth look at what those ideals were and how they applied to waging a war as colonists against their mother country. Important to this struggle was how freedom and liberty could be maintained without succumbing to the evils of a standing army ...more
Susan Barsy
Jul 30, 2014 Susan Barsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is one of the most memorable books I read in graduate school. It remains relevant to assessing the prospects of the many popular 'revolutions' bloodying the world today.

The American colonists' early military efforts against the British were relatively inchoate, but changed and developed in the course of the long war in which they found themselves engaged. The frustration and outrage that had led to the Revolution's outbreak were not enough to fuel an initially rag-tag rebellion that spread
Adam Christians
Dec 04, 2014 Adam Christians rated it really liked it
Snippet of the book that proves that the spirit of American Revolution is still relevant in today’s society. If you are fed up with our society, read this book to understand that the struggles of today are no different than the struggles that started in 1775.:

"The character of independence still matters as much as the achievement of it. Unless the winning of the war proved the virtuous strength of the whole people, independence might soon be lost through the revolutionaries’ inability to sustain
Jul 03, 2014 Nate rated it it was ok
Shelves: saw-ay-14-15
A structurally sound history of the American people in Revolution that maybe focuses too much on the Continental Army as an optic.
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Jun 09, 2008 Kevin rated it liked it
A very comprehensive book on the revolutionary war.
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