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The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777

(The Revolution Trilogy #1)

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,154 ratings  ·  520 reviews
In the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy Rick Atkinson recounts the first twenty-one months of America’s violent war for independence. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a saga aliv ...more
Hardcover, 800 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”The odds were heavily stacked against the Americans: no colonial rebellion had ever succeeded in casting off imperial shackles. But, as Voltaire had observed, history is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.”

 photo Lexington_zpsx0nbm4td.jpg

Whenever I read about the Amercian Revolution, I’m always struck by the enormity of the task our founding fathers were facing. They were not prepared for war, not in the least. They had no navy, no standing army, very few officers with mil
...more
Matt
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“This would not be a war between regimes or dynasties, fought for territory or the usual commercial advantages. Instead, what became known as the American Revolution was an improvised struggle between two peoples of a common heritage, now sundered by divergent values and conflicting visions of a world to come. Unlike most European wars of the eighteenth century, this one would not be fought by professional armies on flat, open terrain with reasonable roads, in daylight and good weather. And thou ...more
Lorna
The British are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 is a meticulously and deeply researched history of the American Revolution by renowned historian Rick Atkinson. This first volume of the anticipated Revolution Trilogy was riveting as you watch the struggling Continental Army up against the mighty and formidable forces of the British Army and Royal Navy dispatched by King George III. This is the story of the newly formed colonies in America and their struggle, not onl ...more
Tony
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: top-10-2019
Anyone who has read Rick Atkinson's The Liberation Trilogy will understand that when he begins another massive examination of another war, the reader must follow. And right away.

And so, although I had not scheduled the Revolutionary War on my reading journey this year, and although the Revolutionary War is not my war, I really had no choice but to read this immediately. I was not disappointed.

This is a military history, but the story would not be complete without Ben Franklin's seducing the Fr
...more
Dan
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson

Three thousand patients jammed the hospital at Fort George, thirty miles south of Ticonderoga, where hemlock boughs served for bedding. “In the name of God,” one physician pleaded, “what shall we do with them all?” Too often the answer was: bury them. A surgeon estimated that three hundred men had died there in just over a month. When inventories were taken of drug supplies in September, five artillery companies reported, “Medicines — none.”

In this excerpt
...more
David Eppenstein
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The history of our Revolution and Founding is among my favorite reading subjects and Mr. Atkinson has become an author of some interest and appeal for me. When it was announced that he was beginning a Revolution Trilogy there wasn't much doubt of my making a purchase of this first volume. Now that I have read this book I give it 4 stars because its quality is deserving of that rating. However I have to admit that I had some difficulty with the book and I think this is more a problem of the reade ...more
Steve Smits
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable history of the first two years of the American Revolution. The research is deep and the topics covered are broad. Atkinson has chosen to write not only on the military campaigns but also the political currents at play in America, England and France,and on the personalities that shaped the decisions on both sides. The narrative is told in chronological order making it easy to follow the events as they unfolded and making the connections between various dimensions clear to see ...more
David C Ward
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
If everything is important, then nothing is. Writing history is as much about knowing what to leave out as to include in making a narrative or interpretation. In contrast, Atkinson piles on the minute, close grained details of military operations - much of this is a recitation of material and logistics - in a way that loses the forest for not just the trees but the pine needles. The result makes the Revolution dull while also missing all the things that made it important including why it was fou ...more
Sean Smart
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A masterful detailed account and the first volume in Atkinson’s planned series of Histories of the American Revolution/American War of Independence.

My only small issue was a perceived bias of the American author for the American rebels.
It seemed at times that the British were all fools and or rogues and all the Americans were fighting the British despite some references to Loyalists, when most figures show one third of Americans were rebels, one third were Loyalists and one third tried to stay n
...more
Lucas
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book does an excellent job of covering the first few years of the Revolutionary War from all angles; British and American, General and foot soldier, military battles and political battles. I think the length is about right for such a formidable task. Key battles and characters are covered in detail without lingering too long on any one subject.

With so many people featured, no one figure is covered at the length of an individual biography, but the essence of many individuals are captured. I
...more
Ash Jogalekar
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
When the British army of regulars captured American troops during the Battle of New York, they contemptuously noted how they were surprised to see so many ordinary people among them – tanners, brewers, farmers, metal workers, carpenters and the like. That observation in one sense summed up the difference between the British and American causes: a ragtag group of ordinary citizens with little battle experience pitted against a professional, experienced and disciplined army belonging to a nation t ...more
Ozymandias
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american, english, history
This is a very good general overview of the American Revolution told from a military perspective. Or rather, it’s the first part of a trilogy on the Revolution and covers from the early days in Boston (1774/5) to the battles of Trenton and Princeton (1776/7). The highlight of the book is the author’s military understanding and ability to express it in words. There is little that is superfluous here, although the author does display a skill at integrating interesting tangents in ways that enhanci ...more
Christopher
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The United States of America was first forged in the fires of the American Revolution. The War for Independence is where the American experiment in self-government truly begins. But, aside from the key moments in the first years of the Revolution, few Americans know how the war was fought and won. There have been some books that have focused on a particular battle or person during the Revolution, but too few authors have attempted to take a more comprehensive look at the entire war. This book fr ...more
Chris Farrell
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For those who are fans of Rick Atkinson’s tremendous Liberation Trilogy covering the US involvement in WWII, this may be slightly disappointing. In my opinion it’s not quite as good - the prose style isn’t super-tight, and I’ve become a bit disenchanted with the “historical present” voice that modern historians use to make history feel more immediate (did he use it in the Liberation Trilogy? I don’t remember it being as prominent).

One of the things that was great about the Liberation Trilogy was
...more
Cynda
3 1/2 Stars

Military history is not much my thing, but this was a group read for GR Nonfiction Side Reads. Also I wanted to read as part of my stack of American Revolution/North American to US History study in honor of US Independence Day.

At first I was unsure about committing to this book due to the amount of details and number of pages. Now I am glad I have read the book. I knew enough to feel adequately conversant about some aspects of the American Revolution and fully able to Follow any discu
...more
Richard Subber
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Atkinson offers an appealing mix of academic rigor and entertaining prose. This is both a history and an expertly rendered story about the early stages of the American Revolutionary War.

If you think you know a lot about this critical time during our history, read The British Are Coming to broaden your knowledge and your understanding. If you’re working at being a student of the Revolution, dig in.

Read more of my book reviews and poems here:
www.richardsubber.com
...more
Ned Frederick
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This history of the Revolutionary War often wore me down with its obsession with trivial details, but just as often it inspired me. I suppose serious students of history would be in hog heaven learning that precisely 368 horses were commandeered during the occupation of Boston. Or, how about this list of abandoned items discovered after the evacuation of Boston: 1,107 blankets, 236 stoves, 582 iron pots, and a thousand buckets, as well as 350 tons of hay, 79 horses, and 27 wagons? Frankly, a lot ...more
Ken
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As histories go, a good one. Eminently readable, as they say, with chapters jumping from this front (say, Quebec) to that front (how's about Boston or New York?) to that front (Bad King George Trifecta in Not-So-Jolly-Olde).

Civil Wars are the nastiest, and the Brits considered this one of those oxymoronic messes. One of the earlier proofs that you can't win wars on another country's turf, especially if the "army" fights "unfair" (read: from behind rocks and trees instead of in the open in bright
...more
Robert Sheard
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
If you want a (very) deep dive into the Revolutionary War, this is the trilogy for you. But for me, and I imagine for most general readers, this is far too much trivial information and the overarching narrative of the war gets lost in the details. It's a shame because I really enjoyed Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy.
Tom Mc Kenna
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thomas Paine's words “These are the times that try men’s souls.” aptly describes the predicaments the American rebels find themselves in this first book of the trilogy.
Vincent
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good history of the beginning of the war. Atkinson continues to yield the inciteful and thoughtful extra comments and information that I have found in his other books.
I am just disappointed that I could not read through to finish the whole war - but I hope it will come - this is book one of a planned three book trilogy.

But the maps, although good, were a bit lacking and I supplemented the book with maps from A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution by Craig Symonds which g
...more
Fred Svoboda
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good Lord, this is wonderfully written, stylish and well illustrated with detailed examples from the times. Thus it is both an overview and an ant's-eye view of the American Revolution.

At 750+ pages of fairly small type this is going to take a while to get through (and it's only 1/3 of the Revolution), but it's all interesting so far.

The fairly long prologue focusing primarily on George III and his fall from triumph in the Seven Years' War to the folly of his American policy is full of gems and
...more
Melissa Dee
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rick Atkinson’s flair for the colorful detail of a country at war is demonstrated again in “The British are Coming”. I’ve long been a fan of Atkinson, and his “Liberation Trilogy”, and am delighted that he has brought his research and writing talents to the early battles of the Revolutionary War in Volume 1 of the Revolution Trilogy.

Atkinson brings the horror and glory of battle vividly to life with quotes from the actors themselves, from the lowliest to the the most exalted. His descriptions of
...more
Casey Wheeler
This is the first in a three part series on the Revolutionary War. It is by far the most comprehensive book I have read about the time period (and I have read several) presenting the perspectives of both sides and a number of the individuals involved. This book is not one for someone who is a casual history reader nor without a keen interest in the subject due to the detail in the book. I personally found the book rewarding  and well worth the time spent reading it. I am looking forward to the n ...more
Peter
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, military
In The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (2019) Rick Atkinson, one of today's most popular military historians, has time-travelled from his home base in WWII to the American Revolution . This history of the Revolutions first two years is lush, with deep detail and great background, and studded with excellent maps. Atkinson's contribution is particularly timely in these modern days of miseducation, when many citizens know nothing of WWII, much less the Ame ...more
Jill
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The poem "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson paid tribute to the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official military engagements between Britain and the colonies in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the thirteen American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. Emerson's poem describes "the shot heard round the world" fired by Patriots at the North Bridge in what is now Charlesto ...more
Stephen
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I consider his other trilogy amongst the best history I have read, I think the British are Coming falls slightly short of those lofty highs. In particular, I think Atkinson's strengths are in his tireless primary research which fuses the story at the top, from notable elites on both sides, with the story at the bottom, from ordinary participants. Here, because of the temporal remoteness of the subjects and the selection effect of what is notable historiography worth keeping over the centur ...more
Sam
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is the first of Rick Atkinson's intended trilogy on the American War of Independence or Revolutionary War. Atkinson's style here is quite similar to what he successfully used in his trilogy about U.S. involvement in the European theater during World War Two, where the prose engaged us, placing us seemingly, right in the action, and if you enjoyed the earlier trilogy, you should enjoy this. I think this is where Atkinson shines and I have chosen to review this for its entertainment valu ...more
James Foster
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unfortunately, I don't have time the detailed review this masterpiece deserves. Other reviews here capture the essence of what I would say, though.

As usual, Atkinson presents history as if we were there. It is too easy to think of the 1700s as so long ago that the world was so different as to be almost alien. A world of iPhones and online banking seems immeasurably different from a world of wigs and flintlocks. Atkinson does us the immense and essential favor of making us feel part of this era,
...more
Todd
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-u-s
What a chore it was to read this book. But, holy crap, the writing of history can be beautiful.
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The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK: THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - GLOSSARY ~ (Spoiler Thread) 130 298 Aug 29, 2020 01:59PM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Eleven - July 20th - July 26th, 2020 - Catch-Up Week - Epilogue (pages 555 - 574) Non Spoiler Thread 24 36 Aug 09, 2020 08:00AM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Twelve - July 27th - August 2nd, 2020 - BOOK AS A WHOLE AND FINAL THOUGHTS (Spoiler Thread) 11 58 Aug 07, 2020 02:34PM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Six - June 15th - June 21st, 2020 - Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen (pages 297 - 347) Non Spoiler Thread 41 29 Jul 27, 2020 09:55PM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Seven - June 22nd - June 28th, 2020 - Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen (pages 348 - 402) Non Spoiler Thread 77 48 Jul 27, 2020 01:19AM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Eight - June 29th - July 5th, 2020 - Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen (pages 403 - 464) Non Spoiler Thread 23 28 Jul 16, 2020 12:45AM  
The History Book ...: * WE ARE OPEN - SPOTLIGHTED BOOK - THE BRITISH ARE COMING: THE WAR FOR AMERICA, LEXINGTON TO PRINCETON, 1775-1777 (THE REVOLUTION TRILOGY #1) - Week Two - May 18th - May 24th , 2020 - Chapters Two and Three (pages 55 - 115) Non Spoiler Thread 108 53 Jul 13, 2020 04:57PM  

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Rick Atkinson, editor, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and historian who worked for twenty-five years as a correspondent and editor for The Washington Post. He is the author of several books, including the acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about World War II: An Army at Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History, The Day of Battle, and The Guns at Last Light, as well as The British Are Comin ...more

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