The radicalism of the American Revolution /
Gordon S. Wood.
1st ed. --
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1992.
x, 447 p. ; 25 cm.
0679404937 :
More Details
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1992.
0679404937 :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [371]-430) and index.
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This item was nominated for the following awards:
Pulitzer Prize, USA, 1993 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-09:
This complements Wood's highly regarded Creation of the American Republic (1969) and extends the argument broached by J. Franklin Jameson in The American Revolution Considered as a Social Movement (1926). Wood (Brown University) refutes a generation or more of scholarship that has labeled the American Revolution "conservative" because, unlike the French and Russian Revolutions, comparatively little blood was shed and the American leaders ended up in charge after the rebellion, rather than losing their heads to the guillotine or assassination. Under the broad categories of monarchy, republicanism, and democracy, Wood explains how the US was transformed from a society that took for granted a nonworking elite and a dependent servile underclass to one in which the free-standing individualist, who worked for a living, became the norm. At the same time, political leadership passed from an aristocracy to common people. Wood concludes with the observation that the founding fathers, who believed a republic would succeed only if controlled by a virtuous people, lived long enough to despair as making money became the modus operandi of American life. In a short review it is impossible to convey the richness and logical argument of this readable book based on hundreds of primary and secondary sources. All levels. E. Cassara; emeritus, George Mason University
Appeared in Library Journal on 1992-01:
Historians have always had problems explaining the revolutionary character of the American Revolution: its lack of class conflict, a reign of terror, and indiscriminate violence make it seem positively sedate. In this beautifully written and persuasively argued book, one of the most noted of U.S. historians restores the radicalism to what he terms ``one of the greatest revolutions the world has ever known.'' It was the American Revolution, Wood argues, that unleashed the social forces that transformed American society in the years between 1760 and 1820. The change from a deferential, monarchical, ordered, and static society to a liberal, democratic, and commercial one was astonishing, all the more so because it took place without industrialization, urbanization, or the revolution in transportation. It was a revolution of the mind, in which the concept of equality, democracy, and private interest grasped by hundreds of thousands of Americans transformed a country nearly overnight. Exciting, compelling, and sure to provoke controversy, the book will be discussed for years to come. History Book Club main selection.-- David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1991-12-13:
Wood vivifies the colonial society out of which the American Revolution arose, delineating in particular the gulf between aristocrat and commoner (he notes in passing that students at Harvard were ranked by social status), then shows how the disintegration of the traditional monarchical society prepared the way for the emergence of the liberal, democratic, capitalist society of the early 19th century. The author dwells lightly on the Revolution itself, concentrating instead on the before-and-after aspect. The study explains the astonishing transformation of disparate, quarreling colonies into a bustling, unruly republic of egalitarian-minded citizens. Most noteworthy is Wood's analysis of the ``explosive'' entrepreneurial forces that emerged during the war and turned Americans into a society ``taken over by moneymaking and the pursuit of individual interest.'' This gifted historian ( The Creation of the American Republic ), who teaches at Brown, gives us a new take on the formative years of the country. History Book Club main selection. (Jan.)
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, November 1991
Publishers Weekly, December 1991
Booklist, January 1992
Library Journal, January 1992
Choice, September 1992
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Table of Contents
Patricians and Plebeians
Patriarchal Dependence
Political Authority
The Republicanization of Monarchy
A Truncated Society
Loosening the Bands of Society
Enlightened Paternalism
The Assault on Aristocracy
Democratic Officeholding
A World Within Themselves
The Celebration of Commerce
Middle-Class Order
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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