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Nathaniel Philbrick - Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution

Bunker Hill, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick provides an excellent bridge between books that cover the ideological fervor of the Boston patriots and those that focus on the hard, years-long fight of the Revolutionary War. During the sixteen months between the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, key figures in Boston society worked hard to find a middle ground between the Patriots and the Loyalists.  The book pays particular attention to the efforts of the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Dr. Joseph Warren, to avoid open conflict and to the restraint and indecisiveness of Loyalist Governor Thomas Hutchinson.  While the opening chapters can be slow at times, readers will welcome the nuanced re-introduction to familiar figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere, and the slow building of tension pays off with the dramatic events that began in April of 1775.

Philbrick's attention to detail in the movements and actions of the British Regulars and the Colonial Militia, and the popular responses to the events on both sides, is masterful.  The narrative climaxes at the Battle of Bunker Hill, with an impressive description of the bravery and the mistakes of militia leaders, British officers, and common soldiers.  The book would be a success if it ended there, but it continues with an engrossing account of the arrival of George Washington and his efforts to lead and to shape the Continental Army throughout the Siege of Boston.  Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution is a must read for lovers of American history, offering excellent insight to the political motivations, the military efforts, and the people who began the Revolutionary War.

Jeff Hartman

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