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Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  185 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
In this exciting work of popular history, Michael Barone brings the story of the Glorious Revolution–an unlikely late-seventeenth-century British uprising–to American readers and reveals that, without it, the American Revolution may never have happened. With a strong narrative drive and unforgettable portraits of kings, queens, and soldiers, Barone takes an episode that ha ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Aug 31, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I have read a lot of books on English monarchy and this is a first that really showed how intricately moving within the monarchy and British public the movements that brought the importance of William and Mary and James II and Charles II to the future of the United States and around the world. This was during the time period of 1680- 1689. Barone makes his characters interesting, his subject matter understandable, and I got so hooked I want to go back and read the rest of his books.....
Dec 21, 2009 Pflentov rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A 243-page book that would have worked better if it had been under 200 pages long; Barone is very repetitive and makes the same point several times over, often using the same words.

Disappointed that the book did not make a better attempt at linking the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 with the American Revolution nearly a century later. The premise that the political changes that preceded and followed William III's rise to power in England were a direct precedent to the American Revolution nearly
Frank Roberts
Sep 29, 2008 Frank Roberts rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Barone turns his eye for political machinations on the events of 1688-89, the "Glorious Revolution." He convincingly explores how those fortuitous events have reverberations down to the present day and were key to the development of British and American politics.

This was a historical event for which I had only the barest outline of knowledge, and I enjoyed very much learning the details. Barone skillfully explores the character of William of Orange, the main character of this epoch, as well as
***Dave Hill
(Original review:

Overall: Good
Writing: Fair
Info: Good
Re-Readability: Fair
Audio: Good

The book’s subtitle is, “The Remarkable British Upheaval that Inspired America’s Founding Fathers.” Barone takes on a subject well-known to most Brits, but nearly unknown to Americans — the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-89, where the autocratic “divine right” James II was ousted by British lords and a Dutch invasion by William of Orange (whose wife, Mary, was next in line
Dec 19, 2008 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Citrus lovers
Shelves: audiobook, history
A lot of the stuff covered by this book sounds familiar: William and Mary, the Sun King, tangerines, the Test Acts. I had the vague understanding that William had led the last successful invasion of England. However, I did not know most of the details laid out in this engaging book. For instance, why is the Orange Order so named and how long have they been around? The answer to this question is inconspicuously laid down throughout the entire narrative, so that by the time I reached the Battle of ...more
Feb 14, 2010 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Randy by: Powerline Blog (political)
History at its best. When I first read the title to this book I couldn't help but thinking, "huh." Once I started the book though I was able to connect the dots and I learned a ton of history. Anytime reading about European roalty it can be enormously confusing, but Barone walks us through the roalty labyrinth with clarity. I also like reading Barone's weekly article and blog writing. Keen insight into to todays political environment.
Aug 12, 2012 Dean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, britain
This is an excellent history of the Glorious Revolution and its effect on our own American Revolution in general and the American Bill of rights specifically. I saw Michael Barone’s book tour on the Daily Show. I was unsure if it would live up to the sales pitch, but it did. If you want to know where our Founding Fathers came up with some of the ideals that became the foundation of our liberty, check out this book.
Sep 09, 2009 Eric rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I had a hard time getting into this book - at least once every few pages the author would say something that seemed to contradict something he had said in a previous paragraph. I'm too anal to let that sort of thing go, so I'd spend 20 minutes going word by word through the seeming contradictions until I could make sense of them. I've only gotten to page 15, but I'm exhausted and can't work up any enthusiasm to pick this book up anymore. On to lighter reading for now...
This is based upon the audio download from [].

Narrated by: Stephen Hoye

Ugh...what can I say? Maybe its because I have no frame of reference on European history but I could not get into this one. I never understood where the revolution was. It will be interesting to see reviews from others who know European history to see if it was just me.
Charles Pearce
Terribly boring recounting of the British "Glorious Revolution" which inspired in part the American Revolution. I could not get past a few pages of this tediously detailed work.
Oct 19, 2014 Ray rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
Did not finish. See Pflentov's 12/16/09 review.
Sep 19, 2013 11 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose you could just read about The Glorious Revolution on a cake, but this book is easier to travel with, and slightly more detailed.

This book covers "The Glorious Revolution", which sounds like something out of Communist China, but actually happened in England in 1688.

Background information: (view spoiler)
May 26, 2010 Daryl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
A boring professorial book with little or no new information
Nov 26, 2016 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's a facile and thoroughly Whiggish tale of the Glorious Revolution as the precursor to the American Revolution. We should care about the Glorious Revolution, Barone says, because without it, Britain would never have become a great liberal democracy, a great capitalist economy, or a geopolitical actor capable of standing up to "hegemonic powers" throughout the world - and if Britain never fulfilled these roles, then America would not have either! Yes, Barone does draw counterfactual conclusion ...more
Mar 22, 2013 KJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers an excellent chronological account of the events that occurred to bring about the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England. A little misleading in the title, if you are looking for a book about the events of 1688, this is an excellent book! Not too dry, but too engaging, the writing is very middle-of-the-road when it comes to a history book for popular consumption.

Barone does an excellent job of describing most of the events, but do be careful, keep track of the players (there is
May 18, 2016 Gordon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
A Goodread's friend of mine has a shelf called "Couldn't finish"... I thought Hey, that's a good idea.

This is the first book that has inspired me to create that shelf for myself.

Now there are often many reasons one can't finish a book, and some of those played a role, however, ultimately it is a lack of motivation. I struggled reading this, a few pages at a a time. It plodded along, night after night, forward and backward in time, decades at a time. At one point referring to Churchill's writing
Casey Mahon
Nov 10, 2015 Casey Mahon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading Our First Revolution by Michael Barone. A very readable history of the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688. Plenty of background history on the events leading up to 1688 and the prime motivators of the main personas. I was surprised at how near to failure, or at least major disruption, the whole thing was; King William's accession was far from an assured thing.
One point that really struck me was the level of compromise acceded to by many participants, including some who had the
John Maniscalco
I don't know why Michael Barone wrote this book. Scratch that. I mean to say, I don't know how Michael Barone can claim credit for writing this book. Every page, literally every page, cites another historian's take on this historic issue. This is a very interesting event and Barone (read several other historians that are cited in this book) makes a strong case that the English Civil War led directly to the cause and ideology of the American Revolution. The only problem is this book is incredibly ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Neill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly sourced non-fiction work, Revolution begins dryly with an overly informative and extensive style that includes nearly everyone to live in the second half of the 17th century. However, Barone's portrayal of William of Orange makes for a good protagonist that you really pull for and respect throughout the book. The endless explanations of the elections and makeup of every parliament get a little tiring, but are necessary to understand why the main characters took the risks that they d ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American & British History lovers,
In my studying of History I wanted to find out more about the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion of 1685 so I was reading the Churchill tomes, History of the English Speaking Peoples and Marlborough: His Life and Times, abridged from 4 volume set to One 1000+ pages, 3.3 lb.
With this book, Michael Barone has drawn from Churchill's writings regardng Marlborough, his famous Ancestor who lived and helped shaped events of that tumultous time that gave rise to our American Revolution.
I will go back and reli
Jacob Lines
Jan 16, 2015 Jacob Lines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Incredibly interest story of how Englishmen became the freest people on earth. How did their constitution come about? Through a lot of struggle over a long time between powerful interests. How those powerful people challenged each other and fought for dominance led to this “first” revolution – an invitation to be invaded by William and Mary, with their recognition of certain constitutional arrangements. This was part of the long constitutional history that Americans inherited and used in their o ...more
Celia Christensen
It is difficult to make English history read like a story because it's so detailed. There are so many names, dates, and acts passed that it tends to start sounding like a list of facts. Though it seemed to plod along at times, I will say that I understand the author's point that without the Glorious Revolution of 1689 in England, the American Revolution may not have come about in the way that it did. I feel much more informed about English political history and I enjoyed learning about the overt ...more
Lauren Albert
Apr 12, 2014 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-british
An interesting look at the Glorious Revolution. My one criticism is that Barone, while trying to show William's importance both to the event and subsequent British history, leaves out Mary almost entirely. I know she deferred to him but her very existence was necessary to the events.

I particularly liked Barone's examination of the financial system and how it was changed for the better because of the Revolution.
Jan 24, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If you want to learn about how reoccurring religious tensions between Catholics and Protestants in Britain directly lead to the narratives that we in the United States hold as our origin story, this is a good read for you.

It's a very well-told history of a pivotal era in the British Isle, and therefore directly relates to the history of the United States.
Jan 07, 2009 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Great idea, not entirely followed through. Nice explication of the Glorious Revolution; it's that "inspire America's Founding Fathers" that it doesn't carry through on. There are mentions of it, here and there, but I kept waiting for the in-depth "and here's where they got X, Y, and Z" and it never happened. Too bad, as the pieces given are interesting, and as an idea, I found it fascinating.
May 28, 2013 Mhd rated it liked it
Interesting, but I had to make my own timelines in an attempt to follow this history. My lack of familiarity with the Royals and their sequence was also a problem. Perhaps I need to start my study with something simpler, perhaps written for a school child?! But, this is definitely a topic with which all Americans should be more familiar.
David R.
Mar 05, 2012 David R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent narrative history of the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. Barone provides lucid characterizations of the players and issues, and clearly relates how the Revolution's outcome shaped the American Revolution and modern Britain. And this is not a text for the hardcore Jacobite: no tears are shed for the foolish James II and his hapless heirs.
Sandra Strange
Great book for history buffs: this book tells in detail the "remarkable British upheaval that inspired America's founding fathers," the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that replaced the Catholic James II with his daughter and amazing son in law. The book does a good job of portraying the major players and their concerns. Fascinating history well researched and interestingly told
Excellent book in many ways and some parts were awesome (part about coffee shops being birth place of democracy), but it advertised itself as being how the Glorious Revolution inspired the American Revolution and it never showed a relationship between the two. I think the publisher decided saying the book related to the American Revolution would help sell the book but that's dishonest.
Nov 05, 2015 Don rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to a point, but I really don't care that much about English royal history. I would have liked more specifics about what the colonists copied along with the general information about the consequences the glorious revolution.
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Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. Barone has also written for many major market publication ...more
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