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The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed, and danger into the life of every American, and Carol Berkin shows us that women played a vital role throughout the struggle.
Berkin takes us into the ordinary moments of extraordinary lives. We see women boycotting British goods in the years before independence, writing propaganda that radicalized their neighbors, raising funds for the army, and helping finance the fledgling government. We see how they managed farms, plantations, and businesses while their men went into battle, and how they served as nurses and cooks in the army camps, risked their lives seeking personal freedom from slavery, and served as spies, saboteurs, and warriors.
She introduces us to sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington, who sped through the night to rouse the militiamen needed to defend Danbury, Connecticut; to Phillis Wheatley, literary prodigy and Boston slave, who voiced the hopes of African Americans in poems; to Margaret Corbin, crippled for life when she took her husband’s place beside a cannon at Fort Monmouth; to the women who gathered firewood, cooked, cleaned for the troops, nursed the wounded, and risked their lives carrying intelligence and participating in reconnaissance missions. Here, too, are Abigail Adams, Deborah Franklin, Lucy Knox, and Martha Washington, who lived with the daily knowledge that their husbands would be hanged as traitors if the revolution did not succeed. A recapturing of the experiences of ordinary women who lived in extraordinary times, and a fascinating addition to our understanding of the birth of our nation.
“Berkin vividly recounts Colonial women’s struggles for independence — for their nation and, sometimes, for themselves. . . . [Her] lively book reclaims a vital part of our political legacy.” —Los Angles Times Book Review
“Compact and informative. . . . one is simply bowled over by the courage and fortitude of these women.” —The Washington Times
“Berkin is a great storyteller. . . . her dedication to telling the stories of these women is evident.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“[Berkin] illuminates the many way women on both sides of the conflict performed as couriers, spies, saboteurs, camp followers [and] noble and enduring wives.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Carol Berkin has merged the craft of the skilled historian and the sensitivity of a master storyteller with her sensibilities as a pioneering scholar of women to produce the best narrative of how women of diverse backgrounds experienced the American Revolution.” —Edith Gelles, author of Portia: The World of Abigail Adams
“Revolutionary Mothers is an accessible, lively blend of great story-telling and recent scholarship, the most comprehensive study yet published of women in the American Revolution. Readers of all descriptions will enjoy and learn from it.” —Mary Beth Norton, author of In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692
“Revolutionary Mothers is a treat to read. Not only is Carol Berkin a skillful writer, but she has placed women squarely at the center of the independence movement. By showing the different roles women played, she moves the battlefield to wherever women were forced to make choices and employ their talents. Elite, poor, Euro, Native, and African American women collide in Berkin's book, as do the rebels and loyalists who were once friends and neighbors. A valuable and readable book.” —Elaine Crane, author of Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630-1800
“Revolutionary Mothers is vintage Carol Berkin, incisive, thoughtful and spiced with vivid anecdotes that add another dimension to the narrative. Don't miss it.” —Thomas Fleming, author of Liberty! The American Revolution
“When Berkin turns her attention to the effects of the Revolution on both women who stayed home and those who, for a variety of reasons, traveled with the armies, her work departs more strikingly from the popular understanding of the era, and it does so in a fascinating, immensely readable way. . . . It is a testament to Berkin's skill as historian and as writer that there seems a real possibility that both her analysis and her anecdotes–both the information she offers and the questions she raises–will live on in many readers' minds.”—Catherine Kaplan, Department of History, Arizona State University, author of A Different Kind of Citizen: Intellectuals and Critique in the New American Nation