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Faces of Revolution


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Bernard Bailyn is Adams University Professor and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History Emeritus at Harvard University. He founded, and for many years directed, the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, which helped to reorient the study of the Atlantic region in the early modern era. His books include The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, which received the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes in 1968; The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, which won the 1975 National Book Award for History; Voyagers to the West, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987; Atlantic History: Concept and Contours; The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675, and Sometimes an Art: Nine Essays on History.


This book of essays comprises nine previously published articles on the American Revolution and an unpublished paper on the Constitution. Restating his well-known consensus thesis, Bailyn contends that an American people, united by a democratic, individualistic spirit, inevitably separated from the centralized authority of the British king and, refining their ideology, created a national government which safeguarded personal liberty. Though sometimes providing a compelling explanation for the motivations of Revolutionary leaders, Bailyn generally offers a simplistic view which largely ignores the many complex, conflicting interests within and between the American elite and the general populace. He adds little to his Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (LJ 4/15/67). Recommended for historiographical purposes. History Book Club alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/90.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

The American Revolution was far from inevitable, argues Bailyn, Harvard professor and Pulitizer Prize-winning historian ( Voyagers to the West ), who contends that ideological passion and human will tipped the scales in favor of revolt. Hastening the rupture were John Adams's conviction that British policies were evil and bankrupt Quaker corset-maker Tom Paine's aggressive attack on those who feared severing ties with Mother England. In the book's eight masterful biographical sketches, we also meet Thomas Jefferson, shedding his ``deep conventionality'' for pragmatic political decision-making, and Boston shopkeeper Harbottle Dorr, compiler of a massive, annotated dossier of newspapers and pamphlets. Four thematic essays highlight the antifederalist challenge to the Constitution and the reactionary muddle in Britain whose ``every major institution was inadequate to its task.'' History Book Club alternate. (Sept.)

"An extraordinarily lucid and informative representation of the revolutionary age."
--The Chicago Tribune

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