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Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  563 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed, and danger into the life of every American. In this groundbreaking history, Carol Berkin shows us how women played a vital role throughout the conflict.

The women of the Revolution were most active at home, organizing boycotts of British goods, raising funds for the fledgling nation, and managing
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Mar 08, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating glimpse into the lives of many women at different levels of society during the Revolutionary War. The first few pages were a bit dry and difficult to get through, but once I was past them, I was hooked.

I greatly enjoyed hearing the many stories of heroism performed by the women of the era, be they patriot or loyalist. These women proved that they were every bit as invested in the events of the era as their fathers, husbands, and sons. Even though they were denied many of the same
Robert Krenzel
Apr 24, 2016 Robert Krenzel rated it really liked it
This is a well-researched book that explores an oft-misunderstood aspect of the American Revolution: the role of women. It first covers pre-war norms, then looks at how the war affected women, and how women affected the war. It looks at various aspects of society, patriot and loyalist points of view, and the impact on slaves and Native Americans.
The writing is a bit dry, but it is a quick read, and makes a valuable contribution to ones understanding of Revolutionary America.
Wisteria Leigh

Much praise is given to Carol Berkin for this important addition to our American Revolutionary War history shelves. It is a fascinating history of women that may surprise some readers and raise questions for others. Often overlooked and forgotten, the women who lived and died while the struggle for our independence was fought are recognized in REVOLUTIONARY MOTHERS: WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.

Some may be surprised to learn that Martha Washington and many other officers wiv
Sep 10, 2009 Pamela rated it liked it
I'm giving this three stars to applaud Berkin for bringing these women and their stories to light. However, I wasn't thrilled by the presentation, There is a lot of room for bringing this exciting era and these women to life. Unfortunately, Berkin's prose and the organization of her material seems hamstrung by her academic background. It is more readable than most academic tracts, but still flat and workaday. If she had only trusted the women's own words from their letters and diaries to give us ...more
Carolyn Noe
Jul 20, 2015 Carolyn Noe rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-nerd
Very much an overview of women's roles during the Revolutionary War. I learned quite a bit about the lives of native women and loyalists, as well as those who followed the army. I loved that they left the references in the book - often times when books like this one are published for the masses, they omit the references. Though, this was obviously meant for a more general audience than someone like me with a masters in history. Still very enjoyable and was perfect for my vacation reading.
Melissa (ladybug)
Really good. The author tells us the story of the women during the Revolutionary War. Both loyalist, Patriot and even British women. I loved this about the book. We are able to get a view of both sides of the problem. I was lead to understand the issues and the feelings of both sides of the war.
Cathy Griffith
Jan 26, 2013 Cathy Griffith rated it really liked it
Very good! My favorite part was the story of Frederika Charlotte Loiuse von Massow, the Baroness von Riedesel from Wolfenbuttel. I must do some research on her. We have friends from Wolfenbuttel, which is a mid-size town in Germany.
Paul Haspel
Mar 09, 2015 Paul Haspel rated it really liked it
Shelves: womens-history
Revolutions are not made by men alone, as Carol Berkin makes clear in her book Revolutionary Mothers. This study of the American Revolution is distinctive in its focus on Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence. Berkin, a professor of American history at Baruch College, provides a thoughtful look at the roles that women from a wide variety of backgrounds and classes played during the Revolutionary War.

Starting with a consideration of the place assigned to women in the English colonial s
Brett Peto
Oct 10, 2013 Brett Peto rated it really liked it
In most every popular history of the American Revolution, women are present, but rarely featured as protagonists, rarely drawn with much complexity. But if women constitute about half the population of any area, is it not ignorant to treat them so shabbily?

Historian Carol Berkin appears to have made her contribution to rectifying this problem with "Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence."

"Revolutionary Mothers" swaps the traditional importance placed on men with
Andrew Brozyna
Dec 21, 2012 Andrew Brozyna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: colonial-america
Revolutionary Mothers is an important contribution toward our understanding of the Revolutionary War and women in early American society. The book is a study of all women who were affected by the war—at all levels of society and on both sides of the conflict. Bergan begins with a description of the gender roles found in the American colonies before the Revolution. When war breaks out we learn about the wives of patriot politicians and generals, ordinary mothers and daughters, loyalist women, sla ...more
Jul 02, 2015 Coolcurry rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Revolutionary Mothers is an overview of the role women played in the revolutionary war. Since it was a home front war, American women were very close with the events. Among other roles, some acted as spies or messengers, organized funds for the troops, took care of homes and businesses while the men were away, or were actively involved in battles.

Revolutionary Mothers is a short, fairly general overview of the topic at hand. I think it is most suitable as supplemental material for a history cour
Oct 20, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
If you want to learn more about the social history of the United States, not just the cries of Paul Revere, or the exploits of George Washington. If you want to hear the voices that have been silenced for too long, or drowned out by outbursts like Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!" then this is a perfect read for you.

Carol Berkin does a brilliant job of giving voice to the women of the American Revolution. Berkin presents first hand accounts of women who supported men, fought
May 16, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
A fascinating, intimate look at a wide variety of women and their experiences during the American Revolution. Ms. Berkin has a nice flow to her writing; I felt like I was reading a story book rather than a history text. The women she profiles are so varied, from Martha Washington to Molly Brant (a Mohawk Indian who married the British northern superintendent of Indian affairs), camp followers to Native American negotiators. I loved her use of first person accounts and appreciated her recognition ...more
Michael Hattem
Jul 23, 2010 Michael Hattem rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-america
While there have been numerous "popular" books about women in the American Revolution, this one stands above the others as history. This is because not only does Professor Berkin have a most readable style but she is a true historian. This book seeks to show the different roles women played in the Revolutionary period through vignettes detailing specific (and, in the case of Molly Pitcher, not-so-specific) women. Highly illuminating for those who may only be familiar with political or military ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok
I swear I already did this review. Stupid phone. Stupid user . . .

The book was okay. There is a lot of material for a good historical fiction writer to use, and more women than I can count who I'd love to know more about. The book was very academic and a little dry at times, but mostly just left me wanting to know more than what is available through historical records. Thus the historical fiction reference.

The information about camp life was probably the best fleshed out section of the book, a
May 30, 2016 Sabrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Women are too often overlooked. I mean this in two ways: one being that generally in history we only speak of men and their accomplishments, and the second being that it's absurd how many times this book mentions women outwitting soldiers by playing on gender stereotypes. Seriously. And men of the time thought women were the ones incapable of intelligent thought. *rolls eyes*

This book was awesome. It focused on many different kinds of women: camp followers, the wives of Generals, patriots, loyal
Sep 02, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
It was interesting to read about some of the things that women did, the ways that they participated in the American Revolution.

My particular struggle is this: I appreciate franchise rights, property rights, liberty rights and the efforts made by women (and men) to secure these rights -to codify them. It's great that society recognizes that women have the right and ability to participate in politics and business. I wish it wasn't so regularly accompanied by the implication that the traditional (
Jun 28, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
This book is an assigned reading for a history institute I will be participating in later this summer so it's a little different from the "escapist" fiction I usually read in the summer. That being said, once I got past the introduction, it held my interest and was thought-provoking and well-written. In spite of my lifelong love of history, this book made me realize how much I do not know about the events of the Revolutionary War, especially the contributions of the women of the time. Thankfully ...more
Karen Goltz
Aug 13, 2015 Karen Goltz rated it really liked it
This book gives tantalizing glimpses into the lives of women from all walks of life who showed tremendous courage and fortitude in the most difficult of situations. The narrative of the Revolutionary War is so familiar, yet this book reveals a new perspective. Women of that time (and ours, sadly) are often seen as merely providing the supporting structure for the men who decide the fate of the world. 'Revolutionary Mothers' demonstrates that without that support, the men will fall. Furthermore, ...more
Jan 25, 2009 Tako added it
Shelves: read-2008-2009
The reason why I started readiong this book was the history propject, but as i was looking for some qwuotes i got very interested in this book. Even the cover grabs the readers attention, there's a women with a gun in her hands, that women represents all the american first ladies. Berkin calls them "Revolutionary mothers." they were really revolutionary, each first lady lived in sucha different time periods but they have some stuff in commom. I like the wway the author described those first ...more
Mar 16, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, thesis
I really enjoyed this book, because it gave really good summaries of what different groups of women were experiencing during the American Revolution. Instead of focusing on a single group, it gave accounts for several including Tory women, African Americans, Native Americans, Camp-followers, officers wives, etc. With this said, the accounts were obviously not extremely detailed. However, I think Berkin did a fine job of giving readers a good overview, with some detailed describtions. Berkin's ...more
Amy Lynn
Sep 17, 2012 Amy Lynn rated it really liked it
You didn't really think that the men did all the work in the founding of our nation, did you? If you believe that all that the women of the Revolution did was stay home, raise babies, and make cookies then you NEED to read this book! This is an inspiration and a must-read for anyone who wants a clear picture of how women purposely, diligently, and decisively aided in the founding of our nation to include some who fought alongside the men. Carol Berkin offers an highly accessible and historically ...more
Samantha Bartley
Dec 03, 2014 Samantha Bartley rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I had to read this book for history class. If I wasn't pressured into finishing it at a certain time and didn't have to write a lengthy book critique on it, I may have enjoyed it more. The writing was good, and it kept my interest for the most part. I felt the author was very passionate about the topic. It also helped me look at the revolution differently. This book is not filled with stories you've read in your textbook. These stories and brand new and different. This isn't a bad thing...but it ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
The "real" story of the women of the Revolution. It includes those that were raped, killed, mistreated, starved, widowed and survived despite all the hardships. Hard for me to read, but it gave me a new perspective and a new respect for these incredible women. The women are as much or more responsible for our free country today as the men who fought and died. The women "fought" and died as well.
Jan 10, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok
There isn't a lot of recorded information on women during this era. So much information was general and loyalist, slave, and native women were included to to pad out the information. So the title Revolutionary Mothers was misleading as not all the women discussed were mothers and the were not all patriots. Interesting but not compelling. I did enjoy the quotes from Abigail Adams. At least she felt safe expressing her concerns to her husband about the rights of women.
Oct 08, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introductory book on the topic of women in the American Revolution. Berkin doesn't just discuss the famous white women, such as Abigail Adams, but instead devotes chapters to slave women's and Native American women's experiences. I felt that a major drawback of this book was its length. I really wish it could have been longer! There were so many figures, and so much material, that I'd be very excited to see an expanded version.
May 09, 2009 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Berkin is an impressive historian, with a terrific ability to relay a story, especially these stories about women in the American Revolution. When I teach American history, I make an effort to point out the lives of those who are marginalized by the standard historical narrative. In all honesty, American historians do attend to these people, so it's not hard to do. Berkin is among the very best, placing their lives in context and place. An easy, engaging read. Highly recmmended!
Oct 24, 2014 Kathy rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Not what I was expecting, but an okay read all the same.
Some fairly interesting tidbits of history. The writing is very much like reading a history text, I have read many other histories and know that the writing can make or break the interesting factor of the book.
I would have enjoyed more depth, but agree with the author that the woman's role was not often recorded in history.
Mar 18, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Berkin does a great job here, re-telling the familiar story of the Revolution from different angles. Even the familiar anecdotes of Molly Pitcher and Deborah Sampson Gannett gain new depth and sophistication in Berkin's telling. I think this one will be most appreciated by folks with a pretty solid background in the history of the era.
Stacey Preston
Feb 14, 2014 Stacey Preston rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Interesting, and yet frustrating. I'm not sure I liked the writing style, I felt like it jumped around. And also, there just wasn't anything new to me in here. It was either, "yeah, that's how I would have guessed the women would have acted", or "yeah, I've read of this before". But, basically an interesting read for what the women went through during the revolutionary war.
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