A Washington Post Notable Book
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them.
In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.
“First-rate history. . . . [Ellis’s] books are chock full of penetrating analysis, from their often-innovative structures to the provocative insights woven into their narratives. Revolutionary Summer is no exception. . . . Ellis’s admiration for Adams is infectious.” —The Washington Post
“Accessible and electric. . . . [Ellis] crisply covers the decisive and improbable events of 1776. . . . [A] dramatic slice of history. . . . Thoughtful and colorful history, filled with facts left out of most school versions.” —USA Today
“Throughout this volume we see the clear-eyed mastery of a historian with the acuity to distill a historical moment into a clash for the ages.” —The Boston Globe
“Superb and dramatic. . . . A poignant counterpoint to the well-worn narrative of Washington’s deification and a tribute to Mr. Ellis’s sympathetic grasp of human nature.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Ellis, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, is always a dependable guide through the early days of the new nation. . . . [He] gives us a feeling of that time when the quest for liberty began.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“The best thing about Joseph Ellis’ vast writings on Early America is his ability to construct unvarnished and original accounts, clear away myth and yet leave the reader with a sense of the color, irony, humor and . . . the great good luck present throughout our country’s history.” —The Seattle Times
“Joseph J. Ellis’s tenth book does not disappoint. . . . Revolutionary Summer reads like a good yarn by a kindly uncle who, the listener comes to feel, may well have been a participant in the events he describes. . . . [Ellis] captures this critical moment in our history with clarity, as well as a soft-spoken authority that is endearing.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Fast-paced. . . . Ellis writes with such élan and deep understanding of this era and its exceptional leaders that anyone interested in a succinct . . . account of this crucial period in American history will eagerly seize upon this volume.” —The New York Times
“Quite good . . . in a relatively few pages the author makes clear how very close the American rebellion came to failing.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Illuminating. . . . Ellis argues lucidly in Revolutionary Summer that political events and military actions during those vital months were intertwined.” —The Courier-Journal
“A focused examination. . . . Ellis writes in a chatty manner, avoiding the dryness of some historical tomes.” —Houston Chronicle
“A worthwhile chapter in the excellent library of Ellis-produced literature on the American Revolution.” —Smithsonian.com
“With revolutionary-period expertise and extensive knowledge of the founders, Ellis contends that American independence was born during this ‘long summer.’. . . This thought-provoking, well-documented historical narrative is packed with insightful analysis.” —Library Journal
“The definitive book on the revolutionary events of the summer of 1776. Ellis’s prose is characteristically seductive, his insights frequent, his sketches of people and events captivating, and his critical facility always alive. . . . Another brilliantly told story, carried along on solid interpretive grounds, by one of our best historians of the early nation.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An insightful history.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“As usual, Ellis combines powerful narrative with convincing analysis. His tale of the crucial summer of 1776 shows how political and military events wove together to create a new nation. Read this book and understand how America was born.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
“Joseph Ellis has once again liberated the American Revolution from powdered wigs and patriotic cant. Riding briskly through the summer of 1776, he portrays the birth of independence as untidy, improvised, and at times, miraculous. This is a lucid and revelatory read for novices and buffs alike.” —Tony Horwitz
“Ellis once again demonstrates that a proper narrative of events, considered to be so well known as to present no puzzles, can exhibit the deep causes of the conflicts that forced men to war. His lucidity and insight make him the master story teller of the Revolutionary moment.” —Edmund S. Morgan, author of Benjamin Franklin
“In Revolutionary Summer, Joseph J. Ellis serves up the spirit of 1776 with sparkling prose, lucid analysis, and knowing portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams. Best of all, he captures the subtle and often complex interplay between the lofty rhetoric pouring forth from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and the perilous plight of the Continental Army in New York. This invaluable addition to the rich literature of the Revolutionary War is a volume to savor, ponder, and simply enjoy.” —Ron Chernow, author of Washington, A Life
Joseph Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Founding Brothers. His portrait of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, won the National Book Award. He is the Ford Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at Mount Holyoke College. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife and their youngest son.