Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere's Ride

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Description

Paul Revere's midnight ride is a legendary event in American history - yet it has been largely ignored by scholars, and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious study of this event - what led to it, what really happened, what followed - uncovering a truth more remarkable than the many myths it has inspired. In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer has created an exciting narrative that offers new insight into the coming of the American Revolution. From research in British and American archives, the author unravels a plot that no novelist would dare invent - a true story of high drama and deep suspense, of old-fashioned heroes and unvarnished villains, of a beautiful American spy who betrayed her aristocratic British husband, of violent mobs and marching armies, of brave men dying on their doorsteps, of high courage, desperate fear, and the destiny of nations. The narrative is constructed around two thematic lines. One story centers on the American patriot Paul Revere; the other, on British General Thomas Gage. Both were men of high principle who played larger roles than recent historiography has recognized. Thomas Gage was not the Tory tyrant of patriot legend, but an English Whig who believed in liberty and the rule of law. In 1774 and 1775, General Gage's advice shaped the fatal choices of British leaders, and his actions guided the course of American events. Paul Revere was more than a "simple artizan, " as his most recent biographer described him fifty years ago. The author presents new evidence that revolutionary Boston was a world of many circles - more complex than we have known. Paul Revere and his friendJoseph Warren ranged more widely through those circles than any other leaders. They became the linchpins of the Whig movement. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere played that role in a manner that has never been told before. He and William Dawes were not the only midnight riders to ca
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Product details

  • Hardback | 463 pages
  • 162.8 x 242.8 x 32.3mm | 798.34g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones, maps, bibliography
  • 0195088476
  • 9780195088472

Back cover copy

Paul Revere's midnight ride is a legendary event in American history - yet it has been largely ignored by scholars, and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious study of this event - what led to it, what really happened, what followed - uncovering a truth more remarkable than the many myths it has inspired. In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer has created an exciting narrative that offers new insight into the coming of the American Revolution. From research in British and American archives, the author unravels a plot that no novelist would dare invent - a true story of high drama and deep suspense, of old-fashioned heroes and unvarnished villains, of a beautiful American spy who betrayed her aristocratic British husband, of violent mobs and marching armies, of brave men dying on their doorsteps, of high courage, desperate fear, and the destiny of nations. The narrative is constructed around two thematic lines. One story centers on the American patriot Paul Revere; the other, on British General Thomas Gage. Both were men of high principle who played larger roles than recent historiography has recognized. Thomas Gage was not the Tory tyrant of patriot legend, but an English Whig who believed in liberty and the rule of law. In 1774 and 1775, General Gage's advice shaped the fatal choices of British leaders, and his actions guided the course of American events. Paul Revere was more than a "simple artizan", as his most recent biographer described him fifty years ago. The author presents new evidence that revolutionary Boston was a world of many circles - more complex than we have known. Paul Revere and his friendJoseph Warren ranged more widely through those circles than any other leaders. They became the linchpins of the Whig movement. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere played that role in a manner that has never been told before. He and William Dawes were not the only midnight riders to carry the Lexington alarm. This first careful study of that event finds evidence of more than sixty men and women who were abroad that night on the same mission. The more we learn about them, the more interesting Paul Revere's role becomes. More than any other figure, he organized that activity and set it in motion. That night, Paul Revere had many other adventures. He was captured by a British patrol, and was freed in time to rescue Hancock and Adams (twice) and save the secret papers of the Revolution. At sunrise he was present on Lexington Green when the first shots were fired, in what General John Galvin describes as "one of the least known of all American battles". Drawing on extensive new research, Fischer finds evidence that this conflict was very different from the spontaneous rising of patriot legend. The New England militia were elaborately organized and actively led. On the morning of April 19, 1775, they stood against Thomas Gage's Regular Infantry in fixed positions and close formations at least six times. Twice the Regulars were broken. In the afternoon, the American leaders changed their tactics. Now facing a larger enemy and artillery, they forged a moving "circle of fire" around the British force and maintained it for many hoursan extraordinary feat of combat leadership with citizen soldiers. After the fighting was over, many of these same men, including Paul Revere and Thomas Gage, fought thesecond battle of Lexington and Concord. This was a contest for what their generation was the first to call popular opinion, and even more decisive than the battle itself. Yankee leaders were victorious in spreading their version of events through the colonies. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine all testified that the news of Lexington was, in Adams's phrase, their revolutionary Rubicon. The true story of Paul Revere's ride is very different from the popular myth of the lone rider of the Revolution. It is also far removed from the heavy determinism of academic historiography. This is a tale of contingency, with great events hanging in the narrow balance. It is the story of free people, making hard choices. Most of all, it is about America's half-remembered heritage of collective action in the cause of freedom. When Paul Revere and his many friends alarmed the Middlesex countryside, they were carrying that message for us.
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Review quote

"Fischer knows how to grip the reader as few historians do....Fischer succeeds brilliantly in re-creating the milieu of the 1770s."--The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)


"This well-written, carefully researched, and interesting book dispels much of the myth and legend that has grown up around Paul Revere's famous ride and has replaced it with an exciting account of the events on those early spring days of April, 1775....A good read as well as an excellent reference."--KLIATT


"In one of the best recent books on the Revolution, Fischer takes what might be the most famous episode from the war and carefully sifts accumulating legend from a substantial body of fact heretofore little recognized about the famous 'midnight right.'"--The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star


"Fischer has provided a nice update of one of the semi-mythological events associated with the American revolutionary experience. What is most impressive about the book is the scholarly apparatus indluded. Revere is now a human figure acting out an historical role without mythology to get in the way. For contextural biography, this is a first-rate volume."--Gerald Michael Schnabel, Bemidji State University


"The action in this exciting history illuminates New England's culture--especially the ways that it differed from old England's--on the eve of the American Revolution....Fischer's details are meticulous, and provide an irresistible sense of immediacy as a slumbering countryside is wakened to war."--The New Yorker


"A work of rare historical distinction, an unputdownable narrative scraping away the tarnish of time and myth to reveal the essential metal of Paul Revere, silversmith. It is crammed with anecdote, represents a meticulous standard of research...and offers a peerless portrait of its subject."--The Boston Sunday Globe


"It is rare when a scholarly history will appeal to a general readership, but such is the case with this book....A meticulously researched and wonderfully evocative narrative that will be enjoyed by history lovers and scholars alike."--Library Journal


"A detailed account of the legendary 'midnight ride' as narrated by a professional historian with a scholar's command of the facts and a gift for storytelling."--Los Angeles Times


"Restores Paul Revere to his place in the pantheon of American heroes by clearing away the junk of myth and mockery that has grown up around him....The book tells the story of Revere's ride in great detail and the ensuing battles with all the drama they possess."--Milwaukee Journal


"A rare volume of history that has something for every reader. Readers with a general interest in American history will find it engaging and richly illuminating. Specialists will find it packed with a wealth of fine detail. And scholars will appreciate the close attention to the sources, evidenced by more than 100 pages of notes, appendices, bibliographical commentaries, and scholarly apparatus. The maps are excellent, illustrations numerous and skillfully interpreted, and the prose sprightly and polished....Educational and though-provoking without ever bogging down in pedanticism."--Richmond Times-Dispatch


"A thrilling read. Part biography, part history, this is a mesmerizing look at democracy's infancy....This is a superb examination of the whys and hows of our Revolution."--Trenton Times


"A valuable contribution to the debate over the social structure of New England as well as an exceptionally vivid picture of the outbreak of war. This is historical writing of a very high order."--Colin Bonwick, The Journal of American History


"This is the perfect book for my honors seminar--it is beautifully written, carefully researched, and carefully illustrated. The historiographical section in the appendix addresses the very issues that my students will focus on as they examine different historical and fictional accounts of major events in America's past."--Christine Compston, Western Washington University


"Students loved it! I enjoyed using it in classroom--will use it again."--Anthony Iacono, University of Central Florida "Fischer knows how to grip the reader as few historians do....Fischer succeeds brilliantly in re-creating the milieu of the 1770s."--The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
"This well-written, carefully researched, and interesting book dispels much of the myth and legend that has grown up around Paul Revere's famous ride and has replaced it with an exciting account of the events on those early spring days of April, 1775....A good read as well as an excellent reference."--KLIATT, September 1995


"In one of the best recent books on the Revolution, Fischer takes what might be the most famous episode from the war and carefully sifts accumulating legend from a substantial body of fact heretofore little recognized about the famous 'midnight right.'"--The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star


"Fischer has provided a nice update of one of the semi-mythological events associated with the American revolutionary experience. What is most impressive about the book is the scholarly apparatus indluded. Revere is now a human figure acting out an historical role without mythology to get in the way. For contextural biography, this is a first-rate volume."--Gerald Michael Schnabel, Bemidji State University


"The action in this exciting history illuminates New England's culture--especially the ways that it differed from old England's--on the eve of the American Revolution....Fischer's details are meticulous, and provide an irresistible sense of immediacy as a slumbering countryside is wakened to war."--The New Yorker
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About David Hackett Fischer

David Hackett Fischer is Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His books include the highly acclaimed Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America and Growing Old in America.
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Rating details

3,409 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 43% (1,475)
4 33% (1,140)
3 18% (612)
2 4% (127)
1 2% (55)
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