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American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  153 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Before there could be a revolution, there was a rebellion; before patriots, there were insurgents. Challenging and displacing decades of received wisdom, T. H. Breen's strikingly original book explains how ordinary Americans—most of them members of farm families living in small communities—were drawn into a successful insurgency against imperial authority.

A few celebrated
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Hill and Wang (first published May 6th 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 342)
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Mary Adams
May 03, 2015 Mary Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you study popular books on the American Revolution, it's easy to come away with the idea that the Revolution was led by the 56 men, give or take a few that were taking care of business elsewhere during pivotal moments in American history. American Insurgents, American Patriots shows that there's much more to the story than that.

From the role of the Black Regiment to the periodicals and pamphleteers to every day working men — and women — this book tells the story of a revolution that would nev
Jo Stafford
Feb 21, 2015 Jo Stafford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting, highly readable and thought-provoking look at the American Revolution. Rather than retreading familiar ground or invoking the Founding Fathers, Breen examines the vital role of ordinary people in the making of the revolution and how insurgency led to revolution and insurgents became patriots.

While I found everything in this book illuminating, Breen addresses two topics particularly well. He explains why the American Revolution did not lead to the excesses of many oth
Dec 03, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd only recommend this to history lovers. It's an academic approach for sure. It's a view of the American Revolution from the "average-Joe" perspective. It leads you to ask the question: was the Revolution carried out by the Founding Fathers pulling the common man up by his bootstraps, or was it the common man dragging the Founding Fathers along for the ride? GREAT READ!!
Lauren Albert
Breen has a convincing argument about the role of everyday people in the Revolution, and good primary material to back it up. But he makes the book a much less enjoyable read with his repetitiveness--it seems to be a common syndrome for writers to try to hammer in their arguments, even when the material speaks for itself.
The strength of T.H. Breen's book is the author's documentary evidence supporting his argument that the origins of revolution against the British Crown were rooted with the people -- ordinary, or middling, Americans who defied imperial authority after King and Parliament tried to punish the North American colonies with the passage of the Coercive Acts.

Been also explores their motivations and their understanding of political rights. Rather than engaging learned discussions about Lockean theory o
Thomas Kidd
Jan 08, 2013 Thomas Kidd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review of American Insurgents, American Patriots, at Books and Culture:
Mike Hankins
Most histories of the American Revolution tend to focus on the founding fathers, the war for independence, or the philosophies of American political leaders, neglecting the experience of the common man. T. H. Breen attempts to remedy that with American Insurgents American Patriots, asserting a populist interpretation of events in an incredibly readable and entertaining style. Breen's narrative focuses on events involving average Americans in small communities creating a widespread insurgency tha ...more
There's a lot in here. Ever heard of the Suffolk Resolutions? They negated the law of the Crown about 2 years before the Declaration of Independence. How about The Crisis? The first best seller, preceded Common Sense by at least a year. Putnam's War? Thousands of men took up arms, women made ammunition, and marched to Boston on the rumor that it had been sacked by the English before there was a Continental Army.

This book is about 1774 and 1775. It's about the local committees that formed to man
Jun 03, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breen isn't the only scholar lately who wants to give the American Revolution back to the people, but this is a better book than most. Tight, readable...good academic history book for people who might usually read pop histories but want something with a little more meat. The break with Britain, Breen argues, did not take place because of the founding fathers in their Continental Congress. By the time they were signing the Decl. of Independence, the break had already happened among common people ...more
Fascinating account of the events leading up to the Signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. Breen successfully argues that smalltown America had already begun the Revolution as early as 1774. The people we now call the Founding Fathers had to climb to the head of the movement that was already getting ahead of them. Average folks in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas had been practicing successful Lockian self-government for a few years befo ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Jon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
Hey Professors, if you want to write an esoteric academia work then please feel free to keep it amongst your luminaries and not beguile such a work behind a pretty cover that compels passionate readers of history like myself to pick up a book like this thinking I'll be enthralled. Man was this a dry read. No narrative or prose. Just the facts Mam! What could have been a very intriguing and compelling narrative about the insurgent characters never materialized. This was a textbook.
Edward Sullivan
An engaging, informative, and insightful look at the origins of the American Revolution from a grassroots perspective.
Sep 14, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting discussion of the American revolution before the declaration of independence, but thesis was a little too basic. a good demonstration off the bath and depth of revolutionary feelings. ell written and an easy read
Apr 10, 2014 Gregg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinatingly different view of the revolution.
Feb 11, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is interesting; it's not about Jefferson, Madison, or Wahsington. It's about "middling folk" who were involved in the build up to the Revolution. It paints another side of the stories we all know.

The downside is that in an attempt to be scholarly, the author (who is a scholar) proves many statements with actual cases. Not a bad idea, but he often tells five or six on each point where one or two would do. It reads slow but you do get a whole new feeling for common people caught in the Re
Fredrick Danysh
A history of dissent in the American colonies prior to the Revolution. The work discusses how colonists organized protests, boycotts, and militia groups that would challenge British authority. This is a good examination of the roots of the American War for Independence.
Pretty good, but it seemed to drag in the middle. That might have been me, getting distracted.

This is a good job of bringing out the foundations of the Revolution, often ignored by the focus on the Founders and the military action. Before Lexington & Concord, the Crown lost control of just about everywhere in the colonies, without a 20th-century-style bloodbath. Yet another reason I believe in something like American exceptionalism.
Cynthia Karl
Mar 08, 2011 Cynthia Karl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I started it but was not entranced with the writing. After the first few pages of explaining that there were INSURGENTS in the colonies that let to the revolutionary war, I got it. But the author kept telling me and telling me that there were INSURGENTS and not every one was like Ben Franklin. So I gave up; the actual stories of these people would have been interesting if just told in a narrative.
Bill Ellingboe
A very interesting and fresh (at least to me) point of view. However, I get the feeling someone (editor, agent, publisher, etc.) succeeded in coaxing the author into stretching a rather succinct argument into book length. It could have either been a nice essay in a historical journal; or even better yet, I would have enjoyed reading the primary sources with this author's comments.
Judith G.
Jul 25, 2013 Judith G. rated it it was ok
Very, very, very thorough. Every point is made, remade and remade again.
Might be a good historical thesis; he does prove his point, but it's a
painful slogging read. Scholarly and convincing, the revolution was not
top down from the big names, but also and perhaps more importantly
a man-on-the-street insurgency. I got the lesson.
John Hansen
Feb 22, 2013 John Hansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A revolution created and led by the people, and largely reacted to by the elite? That is Breen's hypothesis, and it is a fascinating one, with a lot of research and great stories to provide evidence for his argument. Agree or disagree with his theory, it's a provocative and useful book.
Jul 13, 2010 Naomi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read about many revolutionary war participants that non-historians wouldn't know about. I gave the book 2 stars because it was dryly written and I felt the author really could have "puffed" it up since it isn't a text book history book and is written for the general public.
Meg Winkler
Apr 22, 2013 Meg Winkler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice comprehensive work that discusses the domino effect of insurgent passions during the Revolution. As you read it, Breen illustrates the developments well so you can see how things fell in line. Great read for the student of history or those interested in terrorism.
May 18, 2013 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read on the unheard voices and actions of the common man during the months leading up to the War for Independence. Makes you want to stand up for what you believe is right as these people weren't afraid to do.
Jul 17, 2013 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to see that popular rebellion was years ahead of the "founding fathers," but I found his description of ideological conformity amongst "the people" a little unconvincing.
Sep 16, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new way of looking at the American Revolution. It was good to see how important the average person was and not just our Founding Fathers.
Jan 02, 2012 Pesha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting idea with a compelling argument, but tends to get a little bogged down in the details and perhaps-excessive examples.
Mar 04, 2010 Mike marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
We'll be meeting Professor Breen (again!) in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping we can get some proofs or advance copies...
A people's history of the American Revolution. Or viral, crowd-sourced, socially mediated history.
Jun 25, 2013 Arie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
very dull. amazing topic, but book fell short of capturing reader
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T.H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University. He is also the founding director of the Kaplan Humanities Center and the Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at Northwestern. Breen is a specialist on the American Revolution; he studies the history of early America with a special interest in political thought, material culture, and cultu ...more
More about T.H. Breen...

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