J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Hoock on Revolutionary War Violence in Boston, 11 May

On Thursday, 11 May, Holger Hoock will speak at the Massachusetts Historical Society on his new book, Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth.

Here‘s the publisher’s description of this book, officially published this week:
The American Revolution is often pictured as the orderly, restrained rebellion of brave patriots who defended their noble ideals in a strangely bloodless war against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the Founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent American civil war and a civil war in the British Empire.

In Scars of Independence, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately; and Washington’s army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois.

In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock’s new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint towards fellow subjects, while the Patriots ingeniously documented war crimes in an effort to unify the fledgling nation.
Holger Hoock holds the J. Carroll Amundson Chair of British History at the University of Pittsburgh, where he has also just become Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. His earlier books include Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850 and The King’s Artists: The Royal Academy of Arts and the Politics of British Culture, 1760-1840. He grew up near Heidelberg, earned his doctorate in the U.K., and now works on what was once the American frontier, giving him a wide perspective on the Revolutionary War.

This event starts with a reception at 5:30 P.M., and Hoock is scheduled to speak at 6:00. He will sign books afterward. The event is free for M.H.S. members and fellows and $10 for others. Register here.

3 comments:

Joe Bauman said...

I hate to disappoint Prof. Hoock, but not one of the items cited is new to me. If the blurb can be trusted -- and why shouldn't it? -- he sets up a straw man narrative and proceeds to pummel it.

J. L. Bell said...

I could think of examples of everything mentioned in the blurb as well. But then, we've read a lot of books about the war and have even written some. Hoock may be addressing the general audience that doesn't consider such things, or historical claims that the Revolutionary War or mid-eighteenth-century warfare in general was less atrocious than wars before and after. He also seems to be trying to get into how people of the time thought about that violence. But I hope to hear a lot more of interest at this event than in the few paragraphs of the blurb.

Donald Carleton, Jr. said...

John, glad to see you're covering this. I hope you might devote a post or two to reviewing/analyzing the book...