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1774: Book summary and reviews of 1774 by Mary Beth Norton

1774

The Long Year of Revolution

by Mary Beth Norton

1774 by Mary Beth Norton X
1774 by Mary Beth Norton
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Book Summary

From one of our most acclaimed and original colonial historians, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2018 president of the American Historical Association, a groundbreaking book--the first to look at the critical "long year" of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the first Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

This masterly work of historical writing, Mary Beth Norton's first in almost a decade, looks at the sixteen months during which the traditional loyalists to King George III began their discordant "discussions" that led to their acceptance of the inevitability of war against the British Empire and to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775.   

Drawing extensively on pamphlets, newspapers, and personal correspondence, Norton reconstructs colonial political discourse as it happened, showing the vigorous campaign mounted by conservatives criticizing congressional actions. But by then it was too late. In early 1775, governors throughout the colonies informed colonial officials in London that they were unable to thwart the increasing power of the committees and their allied provincial congresses. Although the Declaration of Independence would not be formally adopted until July 1776, Americans, even before the outbreak of war in April 1775, had in effect "declared independence" by obeying the decrees of their new provincial governments rather than colonial officials.

The much-anticipated new book by one of America's most dazzling historians--the culmination of more than four decades of Norton's research and thought.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Norton brings underappreciated figures such as Pennsylvania lawyer John Dickinson to the fore, and elucidates complex developments in all 13 colonies. This ambitious deep dive will remind readers that America has a long history of building consensus out of fractious disputes." - Publishers Weekly

"Though the book is most useful to specialist readers, of particular interest are episodes that illustrate how Colonial thinkers viewed the prospect of war with the mother country in that climacteric period...Norton makes a good case for considering 1774 and not 1776 to be the foundational year of the new republic." - Kirkus Reviews

"Norton's cogent discussion of the details of the 'long year' will appeal to colonial and revolutionary period scholars and enthusiasts. Her inclusion of suppressed female and loyalist voices should be applauded." - Library Journal

"Many assume a clear, straightforward trajectory from the Tea Act and Tea Party to independence. But Norton's elegant, learned account shows otherwise ... a crisp, persuasive narrative of the collapse of British rule and the decisive movement for independence." - Richard D. Brown, author of Self-Evident Truths

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Author Information

Mary Beth Norton

Mary Beth Norton is the author of five books and co-editor of several others. Her textbook, A People and a Nation, a survey of U.S. history written with five other authors, has been published in ten editions and has sold more than 500,000 copies. Norton is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor Emerita of American History at Cornell University. She lives in Ithaca, NY.

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