The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war—one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand.
In Scars of Independence, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners were starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately, and Washington’s army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois. In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock’s new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint toward fellow subjects, while the Patriots documented war crimes in an ingenious effort to unify the fledgling nation.
For two centuries we have whitewashed this history of the Revolution. Scars of Independence forces a more honest appraisal, revealing the inherent tensions between moral purpose and violent tendencies in America’s past. In so doing, it offers a new origins story that is both relevant and necessary—an important reminder that forging a nation is rarely bloodless.
Hoock has definitely done his research on a topic that many people continue to have a romanticized version of our nations beginnings. Describing it more as a civil war with the Loyalists vs the Patriots. These were people torn apart by their loyalty to the Crown and those who wanted total separation from the Crown. Brothers fought brothers and Slaves and Native Americans all chose sides.
While General George Washington was waging a cruel war on the Native Americans, the rest of the country was having birth pains.
Not all the colonies were on board with this uprising and meeting to write our Continental Association. Georgia did not send delegates to the Continental Congress.
This is the unvarnished version of the birth of a nation. And it was ugly and mean and violent. As America constantly intervenes in other countries civil wars, we would do well to remember our own violent past and present and maybe take care.
A really good Historical read from Crown Publishing/Random House. Thank you to Netgalley and Crown for this copy! Release date is May 9, 2017.