Synopses & Reviews
Paul Revere's midnight ride looms as an almost mythical event in American history--yet it has been largely ignored by scholars and left to patriotic writers and debunkers. Now one of the foremost American historians offers the first serious look at the events of the night of April 18, 1775--what led up to it, what really happened, and what followed--uncovering a truth far more remarkable than the myths of tradition.
In Paul Revere's Ride, David Hackett Fischer fashions an exciting narrative that offers deep insight into the outbreak of revolution and the emergence of the American republic. Beginning in the years before the eruption of war, Fischer illuminates the figure of Paul Revere, a man far more complex than the simple artisan and messenger of tradition. Revere ranged widely through the complex world of Boston's revolutionary movement--from organizing local mechanics to mingling with the likes of John Hancock and Samuel Adams. When the fateful night arrived, more than sixty men and women joined him on his task of alarm--an operation Revere himself helped to organize and set in motion. Fischer recreates Revere's capture that night, showing how it had an important impact on the events that followed. He had an uncanny gift for being at the center of events, and the author follows him to Lexington Green--setting the stage for a fresh interpretation of the battle that began the war. Drawing on intensive new research, Fischer reveals a clash very different from both patriotic and iconoclastic myths. The local militia were elaborately organized and intelligently led, in a manner that had deep roots in New England. On the morning of April 19, they fought in fixed positions and close formation, twice breaking the British regulars. In the afternoon, the American officers switched tactics, forging a ring of fire around the retreating enemy which they maintained for several hours--an extraordinary feat of combat leadership. In the days that followed, Paul Revere led a new battle-- for public opinion--which proved even more decisive than the fighting itself.
When the alarm-riders of April 18 took to the streets, they did not cry, "the British are coming," for most of them still believed they were British. Within a day, many began to think differently. For George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, the news of Lexington was their revolutionary Rubicon. Paul Revere's Ride returns Paul Revere to center stage in these critical events, capturing both the drama and the underlying developments in a triumphant return to narrative history at its finest.
"Fischer knows how to grip the reader as few historians do....Fischer succeeds brilliantly in re-creating the milieu of the 1770s."--The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
"This well-written, carefully researched, and interesting book dispels much of the myth and legend that has grown up around Paul Revere's famous ride and has replaced it with an exciting account of the events on those early spring days of April, 1775....A good read as well as an excellent reference."--KLIATT, September 1995
"In one of the best recent books on the Revolution, Fischer takes what might be the most famous episode from the war and carefully sifts accumulating legend from a substantial body of fact heretofore little recognized about the famous 'midnight right.'"--The Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star
"Fischer has provided a nice update of one of the semi-mythological events associated with the American revolutionary experience. What is most impressive about the book is the scholarly apparatus indluded. Revere is now a human figure acting out an historical role without mythology to get in the way. For contextural biography, this is a first-rate volume."--Gerald Michael Schnabel, Bemidji State University
"The action in this exciting history illuminates New England's culture--especially the ways that it differed from old England's--on the eve of the American Revolution....Fischer's details are meticulous, and provide an irresistible sense of immediacy as a slumbering countryside is wakened to war."--The New Yorker
Includes bibliographical references (p. 373-421) and index.
About the Author
David Hackett Fischer
is Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His books include the highly acclaimed Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
and Growing Old in America