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Redcoats And Rebels

June 2024
1min read

The American Revolution Through British Eyes

by Christopher Hibbert; W. W. Norton & Co.; 375 pages; $29.95.

The British historian Christopher Hibbert has made a career of writing books that are highly readable, informative, and accessible. This is one of the reasons for his unpopularity among academic historians. He is treading on their turf and having a good time doing it. Not for him is the dusty tone endemic to many professional scholars. Like the late A. J. P. Taylor, he flies in the face of the Oxbridge establishment, pulling the odd beard and upsetting the occasional household god by Grafting carefully reasoned histories that both entertain and reward the amateur historian. In his latest book, Redcoats and Rebels , Hibbert makes no pretenses about his aims: “This is a narrative history … intended for the general reader rather than the student, although I hope the student to whom the field is new may find it a useful introduction.”

And indeed it is. However, it is also more. Hibbert has successfully rendered a compact history of the American Revolution that would be of use to even the most devout history buff. He gives us the view from London: the gossip in the coffeehouses and clubs lining St. James’s, the reluctance among senior army officers to leave the comforts of home, and the unwillingness of the king and his treasury to pay for the supplies and men that were needed to win a war. Hibbert portrays the British not as a nation of bellicose lobster-backs but rather as the frustrated and frequently apathetic warriors and statesmen that they were.

Mr. Hibbert continues to write history as well as his critics only wish they could. No wonder he annoys them so much.

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