Craig's Reviews > The Radicalism of the American Revolution

The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood
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Apr 26, 08

bookshelves: history, politics
Recommended for: those with a strong interest in the role of history on America today.
Read in April, 2008

This book does a really good job explaining the dramatic cultural changes prmopted by the American revolution. I came away from this read persuaded by the writer's thesis.

The writer argues that the revolution wasn't strictly a change to the self-rule of democratic government but also a transformation of society. The argument goes that society was composed largely into cultural elites with high manners, learning, and property, and a laboring mass with little learning, a meanness of character, and a strong work ethic but no political voice of their own with one.

For a period of time, by effect the revolution eliminated both extremes in the culture with a large middle-class group of white males that gained its voice, its own education and its own work ethic, and the freedom and equality to act for their own independence, prosperity and happiness. The notion that there became a middle class and that these pursuits were available for this new class is a really radical outcome of the revolution.

This book is written with a somewhat scholarly bent and is a somewhat harder read than books by historians such as David McCullough or Stephen Ambrose.

I recommend this book to those with a strong interest in the role of history on America today.
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