THE American war for independence from Great Britain was for North America certainly the most significant political event of the eighteenth century. Subsequent events proved it to have had an enormous impact on the history of the world. The French Revolution was a direct result of French contributions to the American Revolution and the example of democratic government as a replacement for the rule of despotic kings. In the twenty-first century, democracy is the dominant form of government across the globe, and the rule of hereditary monarchs is almost an anachronism. John Fiske’s narrative of that war is based on a series of his lectures on the subject. He presents it as a “brief account” that he hopes will be useful to “the higher classes in schools, as well as to teachers.” It is much more than that. It is an extraordinary resource for readers looking for an effective overview of the subject or for those wishing to begin a more detailed study with an authoritative introduction. The book’s origin in lectures lends it a conversational, very readable tone. It is not dry history; it is a story of a nation’s beginning, filled with important details essential to understanding the history of the struggle—details that even those who have read many books on the subject will find enlightening.
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JOHN FISKE was born in 1842. A prodigy, he had read many volumes of classic history, philosophy, and literature before his teens. By the time he entered Harvard, he had mastered, besides the classical languages, the major languages of Europe. Before graduating from Harvard Law School, he had mastered numerous others. His interests were in law, philosophy, history, and science. A distinguished professor, lecturer, and author, his reputation was international. This title was published in 1889 and was followed by a detailed two-volume history of the American Revolution in 1891.
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