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12 books that will challenge your perception of the American Revolution

Image credit: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Independence Day holds a special place in the heart of the American Nation. Commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbeques and family reunions, The Forth of July commemorates the day when the Founding Fathers declared separation from The British Empire. The Declaration of Independence was strategically important for the thirteen colonies as it ensured a united front in the Revolutionary War that America waged against overwhelmingly powerful British army.

We have selected twelve different stories from contemporary and classic literature that reveal some facts you might not know about.

But first, why not test your knowledge of the American Revolution by watching this video about untold truths.

Courtesy of History Channel

Common Sense, Thomas Paine

Image credit: Laurent Dabos

“Time makes more converts than reason.”

Published six months before the Declaration of Independence, this pamphlet was destined to change the course of history. Common Sense became a source of inspiration for the colonists through a series of compelling reasons for the rebellion against British rule. Thomas Paine’s book sparked debates, supported revolutionary ideas and promoted social equality, transforming the way Americans viewed their personal freedom.

The United States' Constitution

Image credit: John Trumball

The foundation of the American Nation, as we know it, was laid when the U.S. Constitution was signed by Benjamin Franklin and the Framers at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The Constitution set out guiding principles and represented a blueprint that was open to interpretation.

Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes, Christopher Hibbert

Image credit: W. W. Norton and Company

Redcoats and Rebels is a war story told by a renowned historian that focuses on the conflict between British troops and American patriots. Christopher Hibbert closely examines the reasons behind the British defeat providing an insight into poor decision-making and leadership, rugged American terrain and the tenacity of the rebels. The author paints a vivid picture of the cruel and unpredictable nature of this fight for freedom as well as frictions and condemnations within the armies on both sides of the war.

The Eve of Revolution: A Chronicle of the Breach with England, Carl Lotus Becker

Image credit: Nathaniel Currier

The Eve of the Revolution describes the events that led to the Boston Tea Party bringing together facts from different sources. Carl Becker studied a number of works written during the Revolutionary War revealing certain influences that might have altered the perception of the War. "In this brief sketch I have chiefly endeavored to convey to the reader, not a record of what men did, but a sense of how they thought and felt about what they did."

From Boyhood to Manhood - the Life of Benjamin Franklin, William M. Thayer

Image credit: Benjamin West

The life of “the real father of the American Union” is reckoned by the author to be stranger than fiction. A man, who believed that “one to day is worth two to morrows”; and he acted accordingly. The greatest diplomatist of his time, Benjamin Franklin “never failed to speak the right word at the right season" He overcame poverty and obscurity to become one of the key figures in American history.

Wieland; or, The Transformation, Charles Brockden Brown

Image credit: Hacket Publishing Company

The first gothic thriller was inspired by a curious case of multiple murders that took place in wartime Pennsylvania. When a devout Christian Theodore Cairn, hears a voice call in the gloom instructing him to render his wife in proof of his faith, he obeys the higher power and goes on a blood-spattering killing spree. But who is really behind the fateful command to Theodore?

Almost a miracle, John Ferling

Image credit: Oxford University Press

Almost a Miracle lays out a chronological narrative discussing plans and strategies on both sides of the War. Ferling analyses the American victory, drawing the reader’s attention to flaws of familiar heroes (Franklin, Washington, Hamilton) and praising those humble heroes who didn’t get recognition. The author also explores political divides in the Colonies challenging our preconception of the American Revolution.

Founding Mothers: Women who raised our nations, Cookie Roberts

Image credit: Edward Savage

Founding Mothers represents a tribute to wives, sisters and daughters of prominent men, who framed the Constitution. From Abigail Adams and Martha Washington to Deborah Read Franklin, these patriotic and passionate women were as much responsible for the founding of the nation as the men, who fought on the front line. The book encapsulates the trials and triumphs of prominent women of the era through beautifully written excerpts from letters.

The Turncoat, Donna Thorland

Image credit: N. A. L. Publishing

This historical romance tells a story of Lydia Barrington Darragh, who despite adverse weather, manages to walk 12 miles to warn the Washington’s army and mysterious widow of Mount Holly of the unprecedented attack of the British Army. The Quaker spy, who made a significant contribution to the battle at Trenton by seducing Hessian Colonel Carl Von Donop and luring him away from the conflict at the crucial moment, is often associated with Betsy Ross, who played an active, but forgotten part in the war.

Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson

Image credit: Simon and Schuster

An impeccably researched and heart-clenching novel portrays the events that led a 13-year old Isabel to fight for her freedom during the Revolutionary War. A slave to Locktons, a family that condemns the American Revolution, Isabella turns to patriots, who encourage her to spy on her owners in the hope of gaining access to British plans for invasion. A tale of hard choices and determination, the book explores the lengths we are prepared to go to shake off the chains.

Celia Garth, Gwen Bristow

Image credit: Chicago Review Press

When Charleston is captured by the British army, a wave of debauchery and pillage is spread across the Carolina countryside. The seed of panic is planted, and many Americans join the king’s side. However, the fate of the town is changed with appearance of Francis Marion, a little man who is passionate about his cause. Celia Garth, a young seamstress, joins the fight by supplying secret information to colonials, putting her life in danger. A story of love and courage, the novel captures different shades of the American Revolution.

Johnny Tremain, Esther Hoskins Forbes

Image credit: Yearling (1987)

Esther Forbes skilfully blends an accurate portrayal of the economics, politics and social culture in wartime Boston, as well as a boy’s journey to manhood. When Johnny Tremain, a gifted apprentice to a silversmith, burns his hand by molten silver, his dreams are crushed. Johnny’s new job changes his destiny linking him to the Boston patriots, and later becoming involved in Tea Party and the Battle of Lexington.

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