Nathaniel Philbrick’s new non-fiction work BUNKER HILL, A CITY, A SIEGE, A REVOLUTION is a rewarding history of the early stages of the American Revolution including the battles of Lexington and Concord, Breeds Hill/Bunker Hill and the siege and eventual evacuation of Boston by the British. Philbrick, as was his style in his previous books Mayflower and The Last Stand, Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of Little Big Horn ( see review at gordonsgoodreads.com ) , is focused. His historical research is precise and the development of the characters of the historical figures adds new dimension to this period of American History.
Set in 1775 and 1776, Philbrick explores the passions and the conflicts between Patriots , Loyalists and the multitude of views of those suspended in the middle. Many Patriots remained loyal to King George but simultaneously reviled against the British Parliament, clearly defining the difference between a call for “Liberty” and the pursuit of “Independence.” In the ensuing American Revolutionary War, liberty and independence became synonymous.
Readers will meet a key revolutionary who stands unique among the better-known Sam Adams , John Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere. Thirty three-year-old physician Joseph Warren cobbled together a group of independent thinking community leaders and often unmanageable farmers turned militiamen into what would become the Continental Army. Warren was a self-styled political and military leader. If it were not for Warren’s death at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Philbrick speculates that relatively obscure George Washington may never have been called upon to assume leadership of the Patriot forces, which of course ultimately lead to Washington becoming the nation’s first president. Thus , Bunker Hill gains even greater historical importance.
The Battle of Bunker Hill ( June 17, 1775) , which came two months after Concord and Lexington ( April 19, 1775 “The Shot Heard Round the World” ) , is considered the actual beginning of the Revolutionary War. Concord and Lexington are referred to as ” skirmishes.” British loses were so great at Bunker Hill, despite a technical victory, General Howe concluded that the British had in fact lost the battle for Boston, and was later forced to withdraw to Halifax, Nova Scotia following a winter long siege of the city .
I greatly appreciate well researched non-fiction like BUNKER HILL that focuses on specific events and the individuals that played a vital role in the larger story. Another example is David McCullough’s biography John Adams , critical to understanding the American Revolution, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. An enlightening part of the puzzle pertaining to George Washington and the Revolutionary War is David Clary’s book Washington Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution. The book details the relationship between the childless George Washington and a glory seeking teenage French Aristocrat, Marquis de Lafayette. They become unlikely comrades-in-arms , forming an unbreakable trust with great impact on the war’s outcome and the forming of a new nation.
BUNKER HILL, A CITY, A SIEGE, A REVOLUTION is worthy of your time and your library.