1774: The Long Year of Revolution

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WINNER of the 2021 George Washington Prize. The George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards.

“1774: The Long Year of Revolution”. By Mary Beth Norton. ISBN:  978-0-385-35336-6. Copyright 2020. Hardcover 528 pages.

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.

This is 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.