Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775

Written by Derek W. Beck
Review by Justin M. Lindsay

For many today, the American Revolution began on July 4, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In truth, however, the War for Independence had begun earlier, with the Boston Tea Party. What Beck offers in this new work of non-fiction is an account of the three years that preceded the signing, 1773 to 1775. He takes special care to offer up insights and perspectives not only from both sides of the Atlantic, but also from both sides of the conflict, since there were many colonials who would remain loyal to Britain.

Though new sources are referenced in this work, little in this book is new to readers of David McCullough, Joseph J. Ellis, or David Hackett Fischer. In fact, he quotes Ellis and others frequently. At times the narrative style could come off light or geared toward young readers. Perhaps too much time is spent with a blow-by-blow account of the fighting at Lexington and Concord, though the inclusion of Arnold’s exploits on Lake Champlain are appreciated. The book doesn’t end with a final conclusion, but rather leaves that to the next installment. It’s actually a short read, with nearly 200 pages given over to notes and appendices. This is a good light read for those new to the subject and willing to continue with the series.