History Podcasts

Book about Glorious Revolution

Book about Glorious Revolution

I am currently reading Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James: Why Nations Fail, which made me want to read more about the Glorious Revolution of 1688. I am particularly interested in an economic perspective and works looking at how inventions helped drive economic growth and eventually lead to the industrial revolution. Is there any good book that deals with this particular angle that you would recommend?

It's a hard request to fulfill. The interesting economic stuff happened later, so there aren't too many books covering what you're looking for.

Arnold Toynbee is your best bet.


After that, I recommend Eric Hobsbawm.

  • The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848
  • The Age of Capital: 1848-1875
  • The Age of Empire: 1875-1914

Glorious Revolution

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Glorious Revolution, also called Revolution of 1688 or Bloodless Revolution, in English history, the events of 1688–89 that resulted in the deposition of James II and the accession of his daughter Mary II and her husband, William III, prince of Orange and stadholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

What was the Glorious Revolution?

The Glorious Revolution refers to the events of 1688–89 that saw King James II of England deposed and succeeded by one of his daughters and her husband. James’s overt Roman Catholicism, his suspension of the legal rights of Dissenters, and the birth of a Catholic heir to the throne raised discontent among many, particularly non-Catholics. Opposition leaders invited William of Orange, a Protestant who was married to James’s daughter Mary (also Protestant), to, in effect, invade England. James’s support dwindled, and he fled to France. William and Mary were then crowned joint rulers.

When did the Glorious Revolution occur?

The Glorious Revolution took place during 1688–89. In 1688 King James II of England, a Roman Catholic king who was already at odds with non-Catholics in England, took actions that further alienated that group. The birth of his son in June raised the likelihood of a Catholic heir to the throne and helped bring discontent to a head. Several leading Englishmen invited William of Orange, a Protestant who was married to James’s eldest daughter, Mary (also Protestant), to lead an army to England. He arrived in November, and James fled the next month. In April 1689 William and Mary were crowned joint rulers of the kingdom of England.

What caused the Glorious Revolution?

The Glorious Revolution (1688–89) in England stemmed from religious and political conflicts. King James II was Catholic. His religion, and his actions rooted in it, put him at odds with the non-Catholic population and others. Many tolerated him, thinking that the throne would eventually pass to his eldest child, Mary, who was Protestant. This view changed with the birth of James’s son in June 1688, as the king now had a Catholic heir. Alarmed, several prominent Englishmen invited Mary’s husband, William of Orange, to invade England. He did so in November. James soon fled England, and William and Mary were crowned joint rulers in April 1689.

Why is the Glorious Revolution significant?

The Glorious Revolution (1688–89) permanently established Parliament as the ruling power of England—and, later, the United Kingdom—representing a shift from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. When William III and Mary II were crowned, they swore to govern according to the laws of Parliament, not the laws of the monarchy. A Bill of Rights promulgated later that year, based on a Declaration of Rights accepted by William and Mary when they were crowned, prohibited Catholics or those married to Catholics from claiming the throne.

After the accession of James II in 1685, his overt Roman Catholicism alienated the majority of the population. In 1687 he issued a Declaration of Indulgence, suspending the penal laws against Nonconformists and recusants, and in April 1688 ordered that a second Declaration of Indulgence be read from every pulpit on two successive Sundays. William Sancroft, the archbishop of Canterbury, and six other bishops petitioned him against this and were prosecuted for seditious libel. Their acquittal almost coincided with the birth of a son to James’s Roman Catholic queen, Mary of Modena (June). This event promised an indefinite continuance of his policy and brought discontent to a head. Seven eminent Englishmen, including one bishop and six prominent politicians of both Whig and Tory persuasions, wrote to William of Orange, inviting him to come over with an army to redress the nation’s grievances.

William was both James’s nephew and his son-in-law, and, until the birth of James’s son, William’s wife, Mary, was heir apparent. William’s chief concern was to check the overgrowth of French power in Europe. Between 1679 and 1684, England’s impotence and the emperor Leopold I’s preoccupation with a Turkish advance to Vienna had allowed Louis XIV to seize Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Casale Monferrato, and other places vital to the defense of the Spanish Netherlands, the German Rhineland, and northern Italy. By 1688, however, a great European coalition had begun to form to call for a halt to aggressions. Its prospects depended partly upon England. Thus, having been in close touch with the leading English malcontents for more than a year, William accepted their invitation. Landing at Brixham on Tor Bay (November 5), he advanced slowly on London as support fell away from James II. James’s daughter Anne and his best general, John Churchill, were among the deserters to William’s camp. Thereupon, James fled to France.

William was now asked to carry on the government and summon a Parliament. When this Convention Parliament met (January 22, 1689), it agreed, after some debate, to treat James’s flight as an abdication and to offer the crown, with an accompanying Declaration of Rights, to William and Mary jointly. Both gift and conditions were accepted. Thereupon, the convention turned itself into a proper Parliament and large parts of the Declaration into a Bill of Rights. This bill gave the succession to Mary’s sister, Anne, in default of issue from Mary, barred Roman Catholics from the throne, abolished the crown’s power to suspend laws, condemned the power of dispensing with laws “as it hath been exercised and used of late,” and declared a standing army illegal in time of peace.

The settlement marked a considerable triumph for Whig views. If no Roman Catholic could be king, then no kingship could be unconditional. The adoption of the exclusionist solution lent support to John Locke’s contention that government was in the nature of a social contract between the king and his people represented in Parliament. The revolution permanently established Parliament as the ruling power of England.

The Glorious Revolution

The disappearance of the king [James II] left no legal government in England. There was no parliament, and no existing council which could claim authority. William was the only person who could deal with the emergency, and he did so characteristically. He summoned an assembly consisting of all those who had sat in any of the parliaments of Charles II not members of James's parliament, because elections since the suspension of the charters were held not to have been free.

William's assembly
To these were added fifty members of the corporation of London. This assembly promptly resolved that a free Convention should be summoned, a parliament in all but name, like the Convention which recalled Charles II. Till this body should be assembled William was requested to exercise the executive functions of government, and to this request he acceded. The boroughs elected their representatives under the old charters which had been cancelled in the last years of Charles II.

The Convention
The Convention's first step was to pass two resolutions &mdash that James by his flight had abdicated the throne, which was therefore vacant and that it was against public policy that it should be occupied by a prince of the popish religion. By the Lords, however, the first resolution was so far changed that it did not assert the throne to be vacant. The Commons, among whom there was a great Whig preponderance, in effect declared that a monarch was to be elected the Lords implied that some one or other was already dejure monarch.

The settlement was not a very simple matter. Many Tories clung to the old plan of a regency. Danby and others, supported by some of the Whigs, desired to claim the crown for Mary herself. According to the strict law of hereditary succession, if the infant prince were excluded, Mary stood first, Anne and her children next, and after them William. These three came to the rescue.

Royal manoeuvering
Mary declined to accept the crown unless it was shared by her husband. Anne recognised that it would be to the public advantage that William should reign, and that her own succession should be deferred till after his death as well as Mary's. William recognised that this was a personal arrangement, and that in the event of his having children by another wife than Mary, Anne and her offspring should, have precedence of those children.

It merely remained for William to remark that he did not claim the throne for himself, but that he had no intention of remaining in England in any capacity except that of king. If the crown were offered him he would accept it if it were not he would return to Holland. Both Houses were now ready to accept the solution which placed William and Mary on the throne as joint sovereigns, the sovereignty being continued to the survivor.

If they had children, those children would succeed their parents in due course if not, Anne and her children would succeed. William being the next heir, his children by any subsequent marriage would stand next in the succession, and after them the Protestant who stood nearest to the throne, whoever that might be.

It was further resolved that, before the throne should be actually filled, securities should be obtained for the national laws, liberties, and religion. But it was clearly impossible to wait for the preparation of a detailed written constitution and the Houses satisfied themselves by drawing up the Declaration of Right. The practices of the last two reigns which were regarded as subversive of the constitution were precisely set forth.

Thus once more the exaction of money without a direct parliamentary grant was expressly prohibited the suspending and dispensing powers &mdash the right, that is, of sus­pending the general operation of a statute, as in the case of the Declaration of Indulgence, or of granting dispensations from its operation in particular cases, as in the appointment of Romanist officials &mdash was pronounced contrary to the law so was the maintenance of a standing army without consent of parliament so was the establishment of arbitrary courts, such as that of Ecclesiastical Commission.

William and Mary take the throne
Popular rights were further definitely asserted the right of presenting petitions to the- king, violated by the treatment of the seven bishops the right of free election and free debate in parliament and the right to the frequent assembly of parliament. The crown was offered to William and Mary conditionally on their acceptance of this latest charter of national liberties.

Their acceptance was accompanied by the Act of Settlement fixing the succession on the lines laid down and William and Mary were proclaimed king and queen of England and Ireland on February 13, 1689. Thus was the Glorious Revolution of Whig tradition carried to completion and since the official New Year was still dated not from the January 1 but from March 25, 1688 remained the titular date year of the new order.

A History of Britain

This article is excerpted from the book, 'A History of the British Nation', by AD Innes, published in 1912 by TC & EC Jack, London. I picked up this delightful tome at a second-hand bookstore in Calgary, Canada, some years ago. Since it is now more than 70 years since Mr Innes's death in 1938, we are able to share the complete text of this book with Britain Express readers. Some of the author's views may be controversial by modern standards, particularly his attitudes towards other cultures and races, but it is worth reading as a period piece of British attitudes at the time of writing.

Book about Glorious Revolution - History

The First Modern Revolution

View Inside Format: Paper
Price: $22.00

Listen to the music of 1688

Based on new archival information, this book upends two hundred years of scholarship on England’s Glorious Revolution to claim that it—not the French Revolution—was the first truly modern revolution

For two hundred years historians have viewed England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689 as an un-revolutionary revolution—bloodless, consensual, aristocratic, and above all, sensible. In this brilliant new interpretation Steve Pincus refutes this traditional view.

By expanding the interpretive lens to include a broader geographical and chronological frame, Pincus demonstrates that England’s revolution was a European event, that it took place over a number of years, not months, and that it had repercussions in India, North America, the West Indies, and throughout continental Europe. His rich historical narrative, based on masses of new archival research, traces the transformation of English foreign policy, religious culture, and political economy that, he argues, was the intended consequence of the revolutionaries of 1688–1689.

James II developed a modernization program that emphasized centralized control, repression of dissidents, and territorial empire. The revolutionaries, by contrast, took advantage of the new economic possibilities to create a bureaucratic but participatory state. The postrevolutionary English state emphasized its ideological break with the past and envisioned itself as continuing to evolve. All of this, argues Pincus, makes the Glorious Revolution—not the French Revolution—the first truly modern revolution. This wide-ranging book reenvisions the nature of the Glorious Revolution and of revolutions in general, the causes and consequences of commercialization, the nature of liberalism, and ultimately the origins and contours of modernity itself.

"Mr. Pincus’s cogently argued account of what really happened during

England’s revolution destroys many comforting notions that have prevailed for more than 200 years. . . . It leaves the reader with something much more exciting: a new understanding of the origins of the modern, liberal state."—Economist

"We all know that the year 1688 is a milestone in

England's history now, thanks to Steve Pincus, the book 1688 will be a milestone in its historiography. Pincus transforms what once seemed a peaceful compromise among agreeable aristocrats into a fractious and all-encompassing crisis, the ‘first modern revolution.’ Provocative, erudite, and accessible, 1688 is a must read for anyone interested in seventeenth-century Europe and its possessions."—Cynthia Herrup, University of Southern California

"A magnificent, fully documented, very well written study of how the first thorough-going modern revolution was achieved with effort and against substantial obstacles over several years. It was bloody and popular, not merely a palace coup achieved with little loss of life, as is commonly held. Taking a broader chronological view and considering more aspects of society than previous historians, Pincus convincingly shows how England had become a commercial society by the 1680s, and the race was on to harness new wealth—a race between the absolutist modernizing vision of James II and the more tolerant and liberty-minded vision of his opponents. What emerged was the first modern state, with independent financial institutions and a strong sense of national and civil, as opposed to confessional, interest. The triumph of William III and his supporters was a conscious re-ordering of the place of the three kingdoms on the European and world stage. Pincus's commitment to vigorous argument (in which he overturns many received views his definition of revolution itself is bracingly refreshing) makes this book exciting reading, and will raise fascinated interest in the late 17th-century for many years to come. For anyone interested in modern liberal society, its origins, and why it is worth defending, this book is indispensable."—Nigel Smith,

"A magnificent, fully documented, very well written study of how the first thorough-going modern revolution was achieved with effort and against substantial obstacles over several years. Pincus overturns many received views: this book will raise fascinated interest in the late seventeenth century for many years to come, making it indispensable reading."—Nigel Smith, Princeton University

"One of the most ambitious works of history to appear in recent years--a radical reinterpretation of events that intends not merely to update and improve prior accounts but to vanquish them conclusively. The book is a marvel of scholarship."—The National

A finalist in the category of Nonfiction for the 2010 Connecticut Book Award, given by the Connecticut Center for the Book

The Glorious Revolution: The History of the Overthrow of King James II of England by William of Orange

“We have great reason to believe, we shall be every day in a worse condition than we are, and less able to defend ourselves, and therefore we do earnestly wish we might be so happy as to find a remedy before it be too late for u *Includes pictures
*Includes quotes and accounts from people involved
*Includes online resources and a bibliography
*Includes a table of contents

“We have great reason to believe, we shall be every day in a worse condition than we are, and less able to defend ourselves, and therefore we do earnestly wish we might be so happy as to find a remedy before it be too late for us to contribute to our own deliverance . the people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the government, in relation to their religion, liberties and properties (all which have been greatly invaded), and they are in such expectation of their prospects being daily worse, that your Highness may be assured, there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the kingdom, who are desirous of a change and who, we believe, would willingly contribute to it, if they had such a protection to countenance their rising, as would secure them from being destroyed. – Excerpt from the invitation by The Seven to William of Orange to become monarch

17th century Europe, particularly its latter years, is often hailed as the beginning of the Enlightenment as nations across the continent experienced a surge in innovation and scientific progress, a period also commonly referred to as the Age of Reason. There was English natural philosopher, Francis Bacon, whose book Novum Organum challenged Aristotelian philosophy and stressed the significance of inductive reasoning. Bacon's ideas, which emphasized observation and the implementation of various premises to form conclusions, was later referenced by famed French mathematician René Descartes.

The Enlightenment had been awakened by the European Age of Discovery, a transformative era that succeeded the Medieval Years of Yore, but the continent was also a seedbed of insurrection, holy wars, and volatility. People were growing weary of the unpredictable system of monarchy, a post that was inherited only by members of an exclusive bloodline or connection, one that often muted the voices of the people. Time and time again, grossly incompetent and seemingly diabolic rulers had come to power through the rigged regal system.

The Glorious Revolution is an intriguing story of a power war exacerbated by ruthless ambition, under-the-table plotting, and the treachery of familial betrayal. In 1678, a sinister scheme to assassinate King Charles II was unearthed, sending the public into a frenzy of mass panic. Fingers were pointed at the Catholics, who had been accused of concocting the elaborate conspiracy, and this very event would intensify the white-hot flames of the Anti-Catholic hysteria that was already running unchecked within the nation. 7 years later, the openly Catholic King James II rose to the throne, and needless to say, the largely Protestant public was anything but pleased. As the people slowly turned against him, the king's daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, watched across the English Channel from a distance. The people were begging for change in a broken system, and something drastic had to and would be done.

The Glorious Revolution: The History of the Overthrow of King James II of England by William of Orange explores the story of an English kingdom in turmoil, and how one king's overly ambitious quest led to his undoing. It also tells the story of how the aspiring monarchs achieved their prize in this “Bloodless Revolution” with a political game of cat and mouse, assisted along the way by secret plotting, persistence, and betrayal in order to forever change the course of history. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Glorious Revolution like never before. . more

The Glorious Revolution

This was a good book summarising and looking at the Glorious Revolution what happened, why it happened, who was involved.

What I particularly loved about this book was that it looked at the impact of the Glorious Revolution on Ireland and Scotland, which many books either ignore or skim over.

The book itself felt very brief. It does examine the reign of Charles II before moving onto James II, but it doesn’t really go into depth over what happened to make the small group actually request help from This was a good book summarising and looking at the Glorious Revolution what happened, why it happened, who was involved.

What I particularly loved about this book was that it looked at the impact of the Glorious Revolution on Ireland and Scotland, which many books either ignore or skim over.

The book itself felt very brief. It does examine the reign of Charles II before moving onto James II, but it doesn’t really go into depth over what happened to make the small group actually request help from William of Orange, or even why William of Orange, Mary and Anne were so against their father, stepmother and brother, besides basically repeating the word RELIGION repeatedly. Obviously, religion was incredibly important in the Stuart era, but this book doesn’t really progress past that point. . more


On the surface, this is a story about religion. However, it is also about the balance between monarch and Parliament. A civil war had been fought because Charles I tried to rule as an absolute monarch. Charles II had been accepted back because he agreed to limit his powers. However, his brother, James II, made it clear he wanted to get back the absolute power that their father Charles I had.

When Charles II died without any legitimate children in 1685, his brother the Duke of York became King as James II in England and Ireland. He also became James VII in Scotland. He tried to give freedom of religion to non-Anglicans. He did this by making the acts of Parliament invalid by Royal Decree. [1] The public did not like this. [1] Several Protestant politicians and noblemen began talking with Mary's husband as early as 1687. In May 1688, James forced Anglican clergymen to read the Declaration of Indulgence. The Declaration of Indulgence was a statement that gave religious freedom to those who did not agree with the Church of England. This made him much less popular. [1]

Protestants became even more fearful when James's wife, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a son–James Francis Edward–in June 1688. They were afraid because the son, unlike Mary and Anne, would be raised a Roman Catholic. [2] Some said that the boy had been secretly carried into the Queen's room in a bed-warming pan instead of her stillborn baby. [3] There was no strong proof to support this story, but Mary publicly doubted the boy's legitimacy. She sent a list of suspicious questions to her sister, Anne, about the boy's birth. [4]

On 30 June, the Immortal Seven secretly asked William, who was in the Netherlands with Mary, to come to England with an army. [5] William, who was jealous of Mary's position and power, did not want to go at first. [5] But Mary told William that she did not care about political power. She said "she would be no more but his wife, and that she would do all that lay in her power to make him King for life". [6]

William agreed to attack. He declared that James' newborn son was the "pretended Prince of Wales". He also gave a list of what the English people wanted, and said that he only wanted to have "a free and lawful Parliament assembled". [7] The Dutch army, which had been turned back by a storm in October, landed on 5 November. [5] The English Army and Navy went over to William. At this time, the English people's confidence in James was very low. They did not even try to save their King. [8] On 11 December, the King tried to run away, but failed. He tried to run away again on 23 December. This second attempt was successful, and James escaped to France. He lived there in exile until his death. [1]

Though Mary was sad because of the deposition of her father, William ordered her to look happy when they arrived in London. Because of this, people thought she was being cold to her father. James also thought his daughter was unfaithful to him. [7] This hurt Mary deeply. [2] [7]

In 1689, a Convention Parliament called by the Prince of Orange came together to discuss what they should do. [9] William of Orange felt uncomfortable about his position. He wanted to rule as a King, not simply as a husband of a Queen. The only example of joint monarchy was from the sixteenth century. This was Queen Mary I and the Spanish Prince Philip. When they married, it was agreed that Prince Philip would take the title of King. But Philip II was King only during his wife's lifetime. He also did not have much power. William wanted to remain King even after his wife's death. Some important people suggested making Mary the only ruler. [9] But Mary, who was faithful to her husband, refused. [2] [9]

On 13 February 1689, Parliament passed the Declaration of Right. In this declaration, it said that James, by trying to run away on 11 December 1688, had abandoned the government, so no one at the time was king. [9] [10] Normally, James's oldest son, James Francis Edward would have been the heir. However, Parliament offered the crown to William and Mary as joint Sovereigns instead. But it was added that "The sole and full exercise of the regal (royal) power be only in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joint lives." [9] The declaration was later extended to take out all Catholics. This was because "It hath been found (discovered) by experience that it is inconsistent (not in harmony) with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist prince". [10]

William and Mary were crowned together at Westminster Abbey [2] on 11 April 1689. The Archbishop of Canterbury usually performed coronations. But William Sancroft, the Archbishop at that time, felt that James II's removal had been wrong. [11] Therefore, the Bishop of London, Henry Compton, crowned them instead. [11] [12] On the day of the Coronation, the Convention of the Estates of Scotland declared at last that James was no longer King of Scotland. William and Mary were offered the separate Scottish Crown. [13] This was because the two kingdoms were not united until the Acts of Union in 1707. [13] They accepted on 11 May. [13]

Even after this was declared, there was still strong support for James in Scotland. John Graham of Clevehouse, the Viscount of Dundee, raised an army and won a victory at Killiecrankie on 27 July. But Dundee's army suffered great losses, and he was seriously wounded at the start of the battle. This stopped the only effective resistance to William, and the revolt was quickly crushed. The next month, there was a great defeat at the Battle of Dunkeld. [14] [15]

Vol. Author Title Release date Pages ISBN Awards
1 Peter Mancall American Origins TBA TBA TBA
2 Fred Anderson Imperial America TBA TBA TBA
3 Robert Middlekauff The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 1982 2005 (2d ed.) 760 978-0195162479 Finalist 1983 Pulitzer Prize for History
4 Gordon S. Wood Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 2009 800 Finalist 2010 Pulitzer Prize for History
5 Daniel Walker Howe What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 2007 928 Won 2008 Pulitzer Prize for History
6 James M. McPherson Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era 1988 904 Won 1989 Pulitzer Prize for History
7 Richard White The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896 2017 928
8 Bruce Schulman Brand Name America: The Birth of the Modern United States, 1896–1929 [2] Expected 2022 TBA
9 David M. Kennedy Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 1999 990 Won 2000 Pulitzer Prize for History
10 James T. Patterson Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 1996 880 Won 1997 Bancroft Prize
11 James T. Patterson Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore 2005 448
12 George C. Herring From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 2008 2017 (2d ed.) 1056 Nom. for 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award

Woodward editorship Edit

The series originated in the 1950s with a plan laid out by historians C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter for a multi-volume history of the United States, one that would provide a summary of the political, social, and cultural history of the nation for a general audience. [3] The project proved to be more challenging than initially envisioned. New fields of historical study emerged in the 1960s, and personal issues intervened for some of the authors. [4] Among the historians connected with the series at one time or another were Willie Lee Rose, Morton Keller, John Lewis Gaddis, Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick. Though some of these historians completed books as a result of their respective assignments, none of them was published as part of the series. [5]

The first volume published in the series, Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789, finally was released in 1982 ( 0-19-502921-6). Included on the rear dust jacket flap to the original hardcover edition was a projected outline for the series at that point:

  • Volume 1: Colonial America by T. H. Breen
  • Volume 2: The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff
  • Volume 3: Early National America, 1789–1815 by Gordon S. Wood
  • Volume 4: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 by Charles Grier Sellers
  • Volume 5: The Civil War by James M. McPherson
  • Volume 6: Reconstruction and Industrial America by George M. Fredrickson
  • Volume 7: Early 20th Century America, 1900–1930 by William H. Harbaugh
  • Volume 8: The New Deal, 1930–1945 by David M. Kennedy
  • Volume 9: Postwar America, 1945–1968 by William E. Leuchtenburg
  • Volume 10: The American Economy by Stuart Bruchey
  • Volume 11: American Diplomacy by Norman A. Graebner

McPherson's volume on the Civil War and its causes was subsequently published in 1988 as Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Two more volumes followed under Woodward's editorship. Volume 10, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 by James T. Patterson, was published in 1997, while Volume 9, David Kennedy's Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945, was published in 1999. Sellers's contribution was published separately from the series in 1991 as The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 ( 0-19-503889-4), supposedly for its excessive focus on the economics of the era, and the volume reassigned to another historian.

Kennedy editorship Edit

After Woodward's death in 1999, David Kennedy assumed the editorship of the series. Since the start of his tenure, in addition to the revised and expanded edition of Middlekauff's book, four more volumes have appeared: Volume 11, Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore by James T. Patterson, which was published in 2005 ( 0-19-512216-X), Volume 5, Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 ( 0-19-507894-2), which was released in 2007, Volume 12, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 ( 0-19-507822-5) by George C. Herring, published in October 2008, and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 ( 978-0195039146) by Gordon S. Wood, published in September 2009. Volume 9 was also published in 2003 as two smaller volumes: The American People in the Great Depression: Freedom from Fear, Part One ( 978-0195168921) and The American People in World War II: Freedom from Fear, Part Two ( 978-0195168938). Also in 2003, The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom was published, a new edition of James M. McPherson's book with the footnotes and a fifth of the original text removed, instead adding numerous maps and photographs with McPherson's commentary ( 978-0195159011). [6]

Herring's 2008 book From Colony to Superpower was republished in 2017 in a two-volume paperback edition: Years of Peril and Ambition: US Foreign Relations, 1776–1921 ( 9780190212469), [7] featuring a new introduction covering this period, and The American Century and Beyond: US Foreign Relations, 1893-2014 ( 9780190212476), [8] also with a new introduction on the period, as well as a new chapter bringing the original book's timeline up to 2014.

A volume written by H. W. Brands covering Gilded Age America — Leviathan: America Comes of Age, 1865–1900 — was also to be published as part of the series, but was withdrawn in 2006 [5] and published outside the Oxford History series in October 2010 as American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900. Richard White wrote volume 7, The Republic for Which It Stands, which covers Reconstruction and the Gilded Age and was published in September 2017.

Volume 2 was being written by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton under the title Imperial America, 1672-1764, [9] however, the volume is currently on hold after the death of Andrew Cayton in 2015. [10]

For the most part, the publication of each volume has been greeted with laudatory reviews. Three of the volumes (McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, Kennedy's Freedom from Fear, and Howe's What Hath God Wrought) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History upon their publication. [11] [12] Middlekauff's Glorious Cause and Wood's Empire of Liberty were finalists for the prize in 1982 and 2010, respectively. [13] Patterson's Grand Expectations also received the 1997 Bancroft Prize in American history, [14] and Kennedy's Freedom from Fear also received the 2000 Francis Parkman Prize.

When originally published in hardcover, McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom spent 16 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, and an additional 3 months for the subsequent paperback edition. [15]

However, in the October 2006 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, the magazine's book editor, Benjamin Schwarz, criticized volumes 9 through 11 in the Oxford History of the United States as "bloated and intellectually flabby" compared to the entries in the New Oxford History of England, maintaining that the volumes "lack the intellectual refinement, analytic sharpness, and stylistic verve" of their English counterparts. [16] However, Schwarz's criticism has been described as "idiosyncratic." [17]

In 1927, Oxford University Press published a two-volume history of the United States by Samuel Eliot Morison, entitled The Oxford History of the United States, 1783–1917. [18] Morison later invited Henry Steele Commager to join him in preparing a revised and expanded version, under the title The Growth of the American Republic. This history in two volumes became the leading undergraduate American history textbook it appeared in seven editions between 1930 and 1980 (1930 1937 1942 1950, 1962 1969 7th edition, with William E. Leuchtenburg, 1980). In 1980, Leuchtenburg prepared a revised and condensed version, A Concise History of the American Republic, which saw a second edition in 1983.

The Glorious Cause

The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States, this critically acclaimed volume--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--offers an unsurpassed history of the Revolutionary War and the birth of the American republic.

Beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing to the election of George Washington as first president, Robert Middlekauff offers a panoramic history of the conflict between England and America, highlighting the drama and anguish of the colonial struggle for independence. Combining the political and the personal, he provides a compelling account of the key events that precipitated the war, from the Stamp Act to the Tea Act, tracing the gradual gathering of American resistance that culminated in the Boston Tea Party and "the shot heard 'round the world." The heart of the book features a vivid description of the eight-year-long war, with gripping accounts of battles and campaigns, ranging from Bunker Hill and Washington's crossing of the Delaware to the brilliant victory at Hannah's Cowpens and the final triumph at Yorktown, paying particular attention to what made men fight in these bloody encounters. The book concludes with an insightful look at the making of the Constitution in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 and the struggle over ratification. Through it all, Middlekauff gives the reader a vivid sense of how the colonists saw these events and the importance they gave to them. Common soldiers and great generals, Sons of Liberty and African slaves, town committee-men and representatives in congress--all receive their due. And there are particularly insightful portraits of such figures as Sam and John Adams, James Otis, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and many others.

This new edition has been revised and expanded, with fresh coverage of topics such as mob reactions to British measures before the War, military medicine, women's role in the Revolution, American Indians, the different kinds of war fought by the Americans and the British, and the ratification of the Constitution. The book also has a new epilogue and an updated bibliography.

The cause for which the colonists fought, liberty and independence, was glorious indeed. Here is an equally glorious narrative of an event that changed the world, capturing the profound and passionate struggle to found a free nation.

The Oxford History of the United States
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, a New York Times bestseller, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. The Atlantic Monthly has praised it as "the most distinguished series in American historical scholarship," a series that "synthesizes a generation's worth of historical inquiry and knowledge into one literally state-of-the-art book." Conceived under the general editorship of C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter, and now under the editorship of David M. Kennedy, this renowned series blends social, political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and military history into coherent and vividly written narrative.


  • The classic history of the American Revolution--now in an updated and expanded twentieth anniversary edition.
  • A glorious narrative of an event that changed the world, capturing the profound and passionate struggle to found a free nation.
  • The first book to appear in the illustrious Oxford History of the United States.
  • Revised and expanded, with fresh coverage of topics and a new epilogue and an updated bibliography.

About the Author(s)

Robert Middlekauff is Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. The winner of a Bancroft Prize for The Mathers, he was Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University and also served as Director of the Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens.


Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for History

"This is narrative history at its best, written in a conversational and engaging style. A major revision and expansion of a popular history of the American Revolutionary period."--Library Journal

"A tour de force. Middlekauff has the admirable ability to capture historical truths in vivid images and memorable phrases. Middlekauff's empathy enhances this massive book's cumulative power. The cause was glorious the book is too."--Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

"The reader in search of a wide-ranging overview of the Revolution would be better off turning to any number of earlier books (from Trevelyan's classic 'American Revolution' to more recent works like 'The Glorious Cause' by Robert Middlekauff)."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Acclaim for the First Edition: "One of the best one-volume accounts of the Revolutionary war."--The New York Times "A striking success. Middlekauff is both elegant and eloquent. Whether he is describing the making of British policy, or sketching the character of Washington or Pitt, or explaining why Daniel Morgan positioned the American troops at Hannah's Cowpens so retreat would be impossible, he does in a few paragraphs or pages what others might struggle through a chapter to get right."--The New Republic "A first-class narrative history. There is probably no history of the Revolution that better combines a full account of the military course of the war with consideration of all the other forces shaping the era." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Middlekauff's energy and clarity often make us read as eagerly as if we did not know how this struggle will come out."--The New Yorker "Writing with a grace and clarity that recall Samuel Eliot Morison, Middlekauff gives us classic entry into the critical period of American history." --The Los Angeles Times "His narrative account goes along at a fast pace. He moves with agility from profound political and philosophical disputes of the period to the scenes of battle and the problems of military strategy. A welcome addition to the history of the Revolution." --The Washington Post Book World

"First-rate narrative history--one can hardly imagine a better one-volume introduction to the period. Graced with plentiful illustrations, gracefully written and long enough (at nearly 700 pages) to afford ample attention to detail, this book is highly recommended to the general reader."--Newsday

Table of Contents

    Editor's Introduction
    Porlogue: The Sustaining Truths
    1. The Obstructed Giant
    2. The Children of the Twice-Born
    3. Beginnings: From the Top Down
    4. The Stamp Act Crisis
    5. Response
    6. Selden's Penny
    7. Chance and Charles Townshend
    8. Boston Takes the Lead
    9. The "Bastards of England"
    10. Drift
    11. Resolution
    12. War
    13. "Half a War"
    14. Independence
    15. The War of Posts
    16. The War of Maneuver
    17. The Revolution Becomes a European War
    18. The War in the South
    19. The "Fugitive War"
    20. Inside the Campaigns
    21. Outside the Campaigns
    22. Yorktown and Paris
    23. The Constitutional Movement
    24. The Children of the Twice-Born in the 1780s
    25. The Constitutional Convention
    26. Ratification: An End and a Beginning

Best Books About the American Revolution

The American Revolution is one of the most thoroughly documented subjects in American history. Countless books have been published on the topic and there are new ones coming out every year.

For readers interested in learning more about the revolution, these books are a great place to start. Since the topic is very broad, the focus of each book tends to vary.

Some books cover the entire span of the American Revolution while others focus on particular battles, years, places or people involved.

I’ve compiled a list of what I think are some of the best books about the American Revolution. The books mentioned in the list are some of the best-selling books on the topic and all have great reviews on sites like Amazon, Goodreads and etc.

I have also used many of these books in my research for this website and can personally recommend them as some of the best books on the American Revolution:

(Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

1. Bunker Hill: a City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

Published in 2013, this book explores the role of Boston and the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolution.

In the book, Philbrick argues that the Revolutionary War started in Boston with defiant acts like the Boston Tea Party and the Stamp Act riots, not at the battles of Lexington or Concord, which he considers important yet not pivotal encounters between the redcoats and the militia.

As Philbrick explains in the preface, the book discusses how the rebellion in Boston sparked a nation-wide war for independence:

“Thus, the Battle of Bunker Hill is the critical turning point in the story of how a rebellion born in the streets of Boston became a countrywide war for independence…In the pages that follow I hope to provide an intimate account of how over the course of just eighteen months a revolution transformed a city and the towns that surrounded it, and how that transformation influenced what eventually became the United States of America.”

Nathaniel Philbrick is an author who has written numerous books about American history including Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex and Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery.

2. 1776 by David McCullough

Published in 2005, this book explores the events of the year 1776 both in the colonies and overseas.

The book discusses the actions and events that led Great Britain to engage in war with the colonies as well as the events of the war itself in that particular year.

The New York Times review of the book states it is “a stirring and timely work, reminding us that it’s soldiers rather than ‘tavern patriots and windy politicians’ who have always paid the price of American idealism and determined its successes.”

The Guardian newspaper also reviewed the book and described it is a “well written, conventional war history, illustrated with quotations from the letters and diaries of men and some women on both sides…” yet also argues that the book’s narrow focus on just one year in the war has its drawbacks, mostly a lack of political background and context:

“The minus is the lack of political background, which is perfunctory. So New York and Long Island were full of ‘loyalists’? What were their own dreams for America and what happened to them in the end? So Washington was a slave-owner and a friend of liberty? Plenty has been written about that elsewhere, but at least a sample should have entered this book.”

David McCullough is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author who has written many books about American history including John Adams Truman The Wright Brothers The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

3. Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Published in 1994, this book explores Revere’s famous midnight ride and discusses what really happened that night, what led up to that moment and what happened after, revealing that the ride had an important impact on the events that followed.

David Hackett Fischer is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and history professor at Brandeis University where he has been a faculty member for over 50 years.

Fisher has written many books about American history including Washington’s Crossing Champlain’s Dream and Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America.

4. Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution by A.J. Langguth

Published in 1989, this book explores the entire span of the American Revolution by following the major political figures involved in the revolution.

Rather than focusing on the chronological events of the war, the book discusses the motives of the people involved and, in doing so, provides a portrait of the mindset of the revolution.

A.J. Langguth, who died in 2014, was a journalist, author and journalism professor at the University of Southern California.

Langguth served as a war correspondent for the New York Times during the Vietnam war and also wrote numerous books about American history including After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence and Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975.

5. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789 by Richard Middlekauff

Published in 1982, this book explores the events of the eight-year-long revolutionary war starting with the events that indirectly caused it, such as the French and Indian War, and ending with the election of George Washington as President of the United States.

Richard Middlekauff is an author and history professor at U.C. Berkley. Middlekauff has written many books on American history including Ancients and Axioms: Secondary Education in Eighteenth Century New England The Mathers: Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals and Benjamin Franklin and His Enemies.

6. The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice 1763-1789 by Don Higginbotham

Published in 1971, this book discusses the political and military history of the American Revolution, spanning the entire length of the revolution while doing so.

Rather than provide a blow-by-blow of the battles of the revolution, this book instead discusses the military people, events, and issues of the revolution.

Don Higginbotham, who died in 2008, was an author and history professor at the University of North Carolina. Higgingbotham specialized in 18th century American history and was a leading scholar on George Washington.

Higginbotham wrote many books about American history including George Washington and the American Military Tradition George Washington: A Uniting Nation, Revolution in America: Considerations and Comparisons and War and Society in Revolutionary America: The Wider Dimensions of Conflict.

7. Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick

Published in 1997, this book covers the entire span of the American Revolution and also discusses the issues and events that led up to the war, such as how debt incurred from the French and Indian War prompted the British government to heavily tax the colonies which then spurred the colonists to rebel.

Benson Bobrick is an author who has written many history books including Fight for Freedom: The American Revolutionary War East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia and Testament: A Soldier’s Story of the Civil War.

8. A History of the American Revolution by John R. Alden

Published in 1969, this book covers the span of the American Revolution from the days of the French and Indian War to Washington’s inauguration and, while doing so, details the important political, military and social aspects of the revolution.

The book is noted for being a balanced, fair portrayal of the revolution. It doesn’t glorify the patriots or the founding fathers and instead provides an accurate depiction of both sides involved in the war.

The New York Times critic, Charles Poore, said in a review of the book when it was first published:

“I know of no other single volume that revitalizes the era with such balance and candor. Even the cockiness that used to invigorate whacks at King George III is replaced with an urbane understanding of that rather Germanic monarch’s hangups.”

John R. Alden, who died in 1991, was an author and history professor at Duke University. Alden wrote numerous books about the American Revolution including The South in the Revolution, 1763-1789, George Washington: a Biography General Gage in America: Being a Principal History of His Role in the American Revolution and Rise of the American Republic.

9. Decisive Day: The Battle of Bunker Hill by Richard M. Ketchum

Published in 1962, this book also explores the events of the Battle of Bunker Hill which took place during the Siege of Boston.

The book discusses the events of the battle as they happened, using first-hand accounts to bring them to life, and also describes the various factors that influenced the battle and its outcome. Although the book was published several decades ago, it is still considered one of the best books about this famous battle.

Richard M. Ketchum, who passed away in 2012, was an author and magazine editor who wrote a number of books about the American Revolution including Saratoga Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign that Won the Revolution Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton.

10. The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood

Published in 1991, this book discusses the transformation American society went through as a result of the American Revolution.

The book explores how the colonies went from being a “deferential, monarchial, ordered, and static society” to a liberal, democratic society virtually overnight. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993.

Gordon S. Wood is an author and a history professor at Brown University. He has written many books about the American Revolution including The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787 The American Revolution: a History and Empire of Liberty: a History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.

Although I tried to include as many books as I could in this list, keep in mind that there are so many great books about the American Revolution that this list is just a small sample of the great works available on the subject.

If you are interested in learning more about American history, check out the following article about the Best Books About American History.

Watch the video: Englands Glorious Revolution Explained (January 2022).