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The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789

(Oxford History of the United States #3)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  7,187 ratings  ·  256 reviews
The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically acclaimed volume--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic.

Beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing to the election of George Washington as first president, Robert Middlekauff
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Paperback, 736 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1982)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  7,187 ratings  ·  256 reviews


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Shannon
This book tends to be tedious even if informative with the occasional social commentary by the author. The typos don't help much either.

That said, there's some really good information here especially about the many battles and fumbles and stumbles made by Washington (mediocre to average military commander, better politician).

Where's a fair assessment of Benedict Arnold's turning on us? Don't expect it within. Middlekauff operates in black and white perspectives especially when it comes to
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Jeff
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
So, you pick up a book about the American Revolution. And the first 20 pages talk about the coming of the war and glosses over such things as the Stamp Act and the Townsend Acts and and the Intolerable Acts and never really discusses anything enough in detail for you to understand who these people (especially in Britain) were and why they kept to a course that angered the colonists and BOOM! You're at Lexington and Concord.

Not this time.

I've been reading history for over 50 years and this is the
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Darwin8u
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, aere-perennius
A fantastic look at the American Revolution. This is the ONE book to read if you are fresh off the boat and looking for early American History. It is Vol 3. of the eventual 12 volume Oxford History of the United States (although it was first to be published). Middlekauff is balanced in his approach. He isn't looking to reinvent, revise, or revoke history. But you can't just call what he does a summary. His narrative captures the brilliance of, and the almost accidental start of, the American ...more
John
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another excellent entry in the Oxford History of the United States. I didn't personally find it quite as engrossing as "Empire of Liberty" or "What Hath God Wrought," but still extremely interesting and informative. This book goes to some lengths to explain and document just how radical much of America was before the revolution (which flies in the face of some of my collegiate history instructors, who pitched the revolution as more of a minority driven phenomenon). Likewise, it at times adopts ...more
Richard
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Several decades ago, editor C. Vann Woodward and his collaborator Richard Hofstadter founded the Oxford History of the U.S. series, to bring rigorous historical scholarship to a wide reading audience. The subject matter would consist of a series of books by distinguished historians, each focusing on an important era of American History, from colonial times to the present day, in random order. Robert Middlekauff produced the first book in the series in 1982; it was expanded and revised into this ...more
Brian Pate
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Thoroughly enjoyed this volume in the US Oxford History series. Well written (by Robert Middlekauff) and well read (by Robert Fass). I listened to this book while traveling to language school in May 2019.

Things I learned:

- Most interesting was seeing the background that led to the conflict (e.g., Britain's disorganization, King George III's lack of preparation, etc.).

- Most alarming was hearing of the mob violence in the colonies (e.g., destroying property, murder, almost burying a guy
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Jeremy Perron
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As I continue my march through the ages, where I explore all the historical eras of the United States of America, I finally arrive at the age and event that would create the nation itself. Having finished Fred Anderson Crucible of War, I had already arrived at that generation of Americans, which we would describe as the Founding generation, and they were living under the man they would call tyrant, King George III. As I stated in an earlier post the biggest challenge in this little project is to ...more
Jerome
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive and ambitious work, with a good deal of primary and secondary research. It is a military history as well as a political history, and wanders into social commentary as well. Middlekauff does a great job of explaining how pivotal the Seven Years' War was in American History as it forced England to re-examine her relationship to her American colonies. Prior to that war the colonies had not provided England with the wealth that imperial nations desire from their colonies, but they ...more
James Murphy
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow. The Glorious Cause is the most comprehensive history of the American Revolution I know. Most general histories of it treat it more as a war and military events rather than as the overall political and social transformation it in fact was. Middlekauff's history covers every aspect of the war. For one thing, he begins the story in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War, when he says the discontent which blossomed into open rebellion began. And he doesn't end his story until 1789 and ...more
Clinton Rice
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is my first book review, so the 4-star rating is a little tenuous; the book met many expectations in excellent fashion, but due the complexity of subject matter, there were parts that became a bit disjointed or left me hoping uncertainly that issues would be dealt with later (they almost invariably were, but foreknowledge would have been nice).

There were two primary facets that I cared about: the historical narrative of America's evolution from colonies to functioning nation, and
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Carson Stones
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the Stamp Act to the Washington's Inauguration and everything in-between, Robert Middlekauff manages to capture the passion, sacrifice, and larger-than-life personalities which made the cause glorious. What really stood out to me about this narrative was the constant state of desperation and near-catastrophe in which the rebels found themselves. In fact, without the aid of French warships and materiel (not to mention Lafayette!), I'm not convinced that Washington and his Continental Army ...more
Bob
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, solid overview of the American Revolution, but unlike the other books I've read in the Oxford History of the United States, not one I would recommend as an introductory text. Middlekauf seems to assume a prior knowledge about much of the personalities and events of the Revolution, and his narrative can be difficult to follow if you're not already familiar (sometimes very familiar) with the story of American Independence.

His choice of focus was at times curious as well: great detail is
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Rindis
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, kindle
As a one volume history of the American Revolution, The Glorious Cause is nicely complete, but seems to assume some prior knowledge. Now, as there's plenty of 'everyone knows' bits about the American Revolution, that's not awful here, but this is definitely an introductory book, and I think it assumes too much on occasion.

It is at its best in the early chapters, which deal with the decade or more of political problems that lead up to the outbreak of hostilities. After that, it feels like
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Jeff
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was a book with a massive amount of information to grasp and remember but since I love history I gave it my best and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I’m a nerd and a geek when it comes to history, sue me. This audiobook was over 26 hours long but it’s one of the best books I’ve found that really examines in detail the politics, the battles and the personalities of the American Revolution. I found this brief review sums it up better than I could.

There's really almost nothing to criticize in "The
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nonviolently
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good overview of the American Revolution with rare shortcomings.

If you want an extensive overview of the dominant personalities in the period, long descriptions of the battles, or a roving look at each colony one-by-one, look elsewhere. Middlekauff instead hits the highlights and explains them well.

In his retelling of events he is quite unbiased, I think. Yet when he offers his own conclusions, they seem radically wrong in places. For example, he says that a group of elites led the way
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Joel Arnold
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I came to this book after reading 1776 by McCullough and wishing I could finish the war. Middlekauff did not disappoint.

This work is certainly written on a scholarly level and Middlekauff is a careful historian. As a result, the book is hardly as entertaining as 1776, but the picture it presents of the era is often more illuminating. Middlekauff includes chapters on religion, domestic life, international events, politics, and culture, in addition to the military events. I finished this book
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Rod Zemke
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It gets a five because it is such a comprehensive history of the birth of the American Republic. This book is part of the Oxford Series on American History. Reading this book in 2017 reminds the reader that the Constitution was written by men and not Gods. Although the Constitution has served us well, it may need 21st-century revisions. The Electoral College is obviously out-of-date. Also, representation in Congress has to be addressed. How long can we continue to give Wyoming and California ...more
Nishant
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
The American Revolution in a single 700-page volume. A little dense, but well worth the effort.
Ray Palmer
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Glorious Cause is a great objective history of the American Revolution. Its 700 pages cover approximately 20 years of history, so about a decade on either side of 1776. And it is about as detailed as one can expect within those constraints.

If you want jingoistic hagiography, it’s probably not the book for you. But by taking a fair and dispassionate approach the author is able to show just how unique and transformative the founding of the USA was in the history of the world. The story of the
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Piker7977
The Glorious Cause is an exhaustive history of the late 18th century in North America. Events leading up to, during, and after the American Revolution are thoroughly examined for the most part. However, there are greater emphases placed on certain aspects of this time period that leave a misleading interpretation of why this era is so important.

What Middlekauff does very well is describe the build up to the Revolution within an international context. The reader gets a glimpse into the main
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Gage Garlinghouse
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff is a book that depicts the glorious battles of the war and its political struggle and ideals all in one fell swoop. While building up through the war, and going all the way to its end.
Being published in 1982 the book has had two editions. With them each being part of the two sets of the Oxford History of the United States book series. the story of the book is, for lack of a better word, history. It is an in depth look at
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Brian Willis
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This overview of the causes and results of the struggle for American independence takes 250 pages to detail the numerous causes and grievances that led to the conflict, 350 pages to detail the military history of the battlefield conflicts themselves, and the final 100 pages to enumerate the need and drafting of the Constitution. A fundamental claim, which I haven't encountered elsewhere, is that the socio-religious background of those Americans informed their opinions of the fallibility of ...more
Xavier
Unfortunately I did not finish. I went into this work because I wanted to know why the Americans rebelled against Great Britain. The beginning chapters explain these events fantastically. However, once the book got into battle formations, troop movement, military tactics etc, I became uninterested and struggled. Military theory isn't my cup of tea. Also I have taken a course on the events following post-Revolutionary War, so I know about the US Constitution and all the drama surrounding the ...more
Matt Davenport
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliantly in-depth account of the American Revolutionary period, from the first grumbles of protest in 1763 to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. This book served as the de facto textbook for my "American Revolution and Constitution" class at Baylor, and it does an excellent job going in depth about the roles played in every single event from every single side. With that, it can be an overly lengthy read at times, but the writing is well-done and the separations by chapter ...more
latner3
" The Americans answer was the political understanding established in the years of the Revolution.This answer has posed a challenge for Americans ever since-to act in ways that capture the wisdom of their revolutionary past."
Great book,for me 300 pages to long but for hard core historians a great read.
Brian
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I didn't read all of it, but the parts I didn't read I skimmed and I doubt I'll re-read it since it's so long and there's so much out there. But it's good.

There were some notable shortcomings and glaring omissions, such as the arrival of Martha Washington at Valley Forge, Adams' nomination of Washington, Benedict Arnold's treachery, etc. I think the main thing to note about the Revolutionary War is that it really was an accident. Nobody quite knew it was going to happen until they were in the
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Andrew
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gina bought me this book for my Kindle awhile back, as I've expressed greater interest in exploring American history in the past few years.

The Revolutionary period is my favorite period of American history as the "idea" of America continues to exercise a powerful hold on my imagination. Sometimes, I wonder whose side I would have been on had I been alive at the time as the history reveals that it was not all good guys vs. bad guys.

I would not consider this an introduction, but more of a
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Michael
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked "The Glorious Cause" a lot, finding it as complete a history of Revolutionary period of the United States as I've found. Robert Middlekauff, the author, presents a well researched factual account which spans the time period from roughly the French and Indian War until the ratification of the constitution. This was not a fight between two homogeneous sides; there were actually four sides in the fight, Patriots and Tories in America, pro-war and anti-war factions in England. All are well ...more
Dave
Nov 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009, history
This book is an onerous, though rewarding, introductory historical text. It doesn't offer much commentary outside the battles and conventions--though I wouldn't expect as much from a general history from 30 years ago. Middlekauff acquits himself well, and he knows his stuff. The best moments (among the 600+ pages) are when Middlekauff lets his hair down a little bit and gently ribs the Founding Fathers as if they were his old school chums. I read about a half-hour every night (I don't recommend ...more
Art
Jul 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
My God........this book was dry as a bone baked in the sun for a billion years!! I've read numerous histories of the Revolution and this, while very well researched, could make an insomniac go comatose. Enough said.....not recommended.
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Robert L. Middlekauff is a professor emeritus of colonial and early United States history at the University of California, Berkeley.

Other books in the series

Oxford History of the United States (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815
  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848
  • Battle Cry of Freedom
  • The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896
  • Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945
  • Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974
  • Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush V. Gore
  • From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776
  • Years of Peril and Ambition: U.S. Foreign Relations, 1776-1921
  • The American Century and Beyond: U.S. Foreign Relations, 1893-2014
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