Cover image for Faces of revolution : personalities and themes in the struggle for American independence
Faces of revolution : personalities and themes in the struggle for American independence
Bailyn, Bernard.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1990.
Physical Description:
296 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E208 .B2 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E208 .B2 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Bernard Bailyn brings us a book that combines portraits of American revolutionaries with a deft exploration of the ideas that moved them and still shape our society today.

Author Notes

Bernard Bailyn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1922, and did his undergraduate work at Williams College. He began his teaching career at Harvard University immediately after the university granted him a Ph.D. in 1953, and he remained there until he retired in 1991. During his tenure at Harvard, he was Winthrop Professor, Adams University Professor, and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History. For years Bailyn was editor in chief of the Harvard Library and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.

An innovative and influential historian of early America, Bernard Bailyn has written quantitative studies of the colonial New England economy, probing examinations of the ideological origins of the American Revolution, and penetrating studies of the social and cultural foundations of American education. Bailyn is particularly adept at interweaving social, intellectual, economic, and political factors into coherent narrative history. A pioneer in adapting the new tools of social science to the writing of history, he is also a fine literary stylist.

Bailyn has been Pitt Professor at Cambridge University and president of the American Historical Association. He holds membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in the British Academy. His writings have earned him the Bancroft Prize and the National Book Award. Bailyn received two Pulitzers-one in 1968 for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967), which challenges traditional interpretations of the causes of the American Revolution, and the other in 1987 for Voyagers to the West (1986), which explores reasons for migration to America just prior to the Revolution.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This spirited collection of essays by a Harvard historian is a responsible sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Voyagers to the West [BKL O 15 86], in which he examined immigration to the British colonies of North America in the 1760s and 1770s in a personalized fashion, focusing on actual individuals rather than dealing simply with generalities. Now, in these essays, previously published in various journals, Bailyn's line of vision moves chronologically further into the evolution of the U.S., achieving an understanding of the origins of the American Revolution. In Bailyn's estimation, "there was nothing inevitable" about the conflict; in stylish yet heartfelt prose, he isolates the peculiar confluence of personalities and ideas that precipitated the world-altering break between colonies and mother country. For sophisticated readers, who will be enlightened. Notes; to be indexed. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

The American Revolution was far from inevitable, argues Bailyn, Harvard professor and Pulitizer Prize-winning historian ( Voyagers to the West ), who contends that ideological passion and human will tipped the scales in favor of revolt. Hastening the rupture were John Adams's conviction that British policies were evil and bankrupt Quaker corset-maker Tom Paine's aggressive attack on those who feared severing ties with Mother England. In the book's eight masterful biographical sketches, we also meet Thomas Jefferson, shedding his ``deep conventionality'' for pragmatic political decision-making, and Boston shopkeeper Harbottle Dorr, compiler of a massive, annotated dossier of newspapers and pamphlets. Four thematic essays highlight the antifederalist challenge to the Constitution and the reactionary muddle in Britain whose ``every major institution was inadequate to its task.'' History Book Club alternate. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This book of essays comprises nine previously published articles on the American Revolution and an unpublished paper on the Constitution. Restating his well-known consensus thesis, Bailyn contends that an American people, united by a democratic, individualistic spirit, inevitably separated from the centralized authority of the British king and, refining their ideology, created a national government which safeguarded personal liberty. Though sometimes providing a compelling explanation for the motivations of Revolutionary leaders, Bailyn generally offers a simplistic view which largely ignores the many complex, conflicting interests within and between the American elite and the general populace. He adds little to his Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (LJ 4/15/67). Recommended for historiographical purposes. History Book Club alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/90.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.