The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783 (Hardcover)

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New York Times Book Review — Editors’ Choice • Chicago Tribune — "60 Best Reads for Right Now" • St. Louis Post-Dispatch — "50 Fall Books You Should Consider Reading"


A culminating work on the American Founding by one of its leading historians, The Cause rethinks the American Revolution as we have known it.


In one of the most “exciting and engaging” (Gordon S. Wood) histories of the American founding in decades, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Joseph J. Ellis offers an epic account of the origins and clashing ideologies of America’s revolutionary era, recovering a war more brutal, and more disorienting, than any in our history, save perhaps the Civil War.


For more than two centuries, historians have debated the history of the American Revolution, disputing its roots, its provenance, and above all, its meaning. These questions have intrigued Ellis—one of our most celebrated scholars of American history—throughout his entire career. With this much-anticipated volume, he at last brings the story of the revolution to vivid life, with “surprising relevance” (Susan Dunn) for our modern era. Completing a trilogy of books that began with Founding Brothers, The Cause returns us to the very heart of the American founding, telling the military and political story of the war for independence from the ground up, and from all sides: British and American, loyalist and patriot, white and Black.


Taking us from the end of the Seven Years’ War to 1783, and drawing on a wealth of previously untapped sources, The Cause interweaves action-packed tales of North American military campaigns with parlor-room intrigues back in England, creating a thrilling narrative that brings together a cast of familiar and long-forgotten characters. Here Ellis recovers the stories of Catherine Littlefield Greene, wife of Major General Nathanael Greene, the sister among the “band of brothers”; Thayendanegea, a Mohawk chief known to the colonists as Joseph Brant, who led the Iroquois Confederation against the Patriots; and Harry Washington, the enslaved namesake of George Washington, who escaped Mount Vernon to join the British Army and fight against his former master.


Countering popular histories that romanticize the “Spirit of ’76,” Ellis demonstrates that the rebels fought under the mantle of “The Cause,” a mutable, conveniently ambiguous principle that afforded an umbrella under which different, and often conflicting, convictions and goals could coexist. Neither an American nation nor a viable government existed at the end of the war. In fact, one revolutionary legacy regarded the creation of such a nation, or any robust expression of government power, as the ultimate betrayal of The Cause. This legacy alone rendered any effective response to the twin tragedies of the founding—slavery and the Native American dilemma—problematic at best.


Written with the vivid and muscular prose for which Ellis is known, and with characteristically trenchant insight, The Cause marks the culmination of a lifetime of engagement with the founding era. A landmark work of narrative history, it challenges the story we have long told ourselves about our origins as a people, and as a nation.



About the Author


Joseph J. Ellis is the best-selling author of twelve previous books, including American Sphinx, which won the National Book Award, and Founding Brothers, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Plymouth, Vermont.

Praise For…


Masterly.... Underscore[s] that the signers failed to deal with some awfully big problems.... Deftly foreshadows all the issues that would complicate America’s trajectory and ends with a historical cliffhanger: Would the Republic survive? It did, but only when the Constitution became the embodiment of The Cause.... As Ellis points out, the word 'democracy' back then was more suggestive of mob rule than reasoned deliberation.
— Richard Stengel - New York Times Book Review

[A] carefully wrought, highly engaging reality check on the elusive character of the American Revolution... Ellis, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for previous works, is sensitive to contested vocabularies... [He] knows that words always matter and that the Revolution wasn’t all glorious or miraculous. He regularly reminds us of what it wasn’t.... With its combined examination of tactics and atmospherics, The Cause is a serious (and seriously entertaining) book and a lively addition to the literature. It is told in the breezy manner that fans of the author have come to expect. All in all, it provides a clear and fair-minded assessment of men and women and issues that mattered at a time when everything mattered.

— Andrew Burstein - Washington Post

The Cause comes across as a special gift, the book the author most wanted to write to the reader from the great scholar.

— Robert S. Davis - New York Review of Books

Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling historian Joseph J. Ellis superbly captures the issues, personalities and events of the American Revolution... Using rigorous scholarship, Ellis offers vivid portraits of and penetrating insights about this period in history, while challenging our conventional understandings of it... This riveting, highly recommended book by one of America’s major historians will change how you see the American Revolution.
— Roger Bishop, BookPage, starred review

[A] speedy retelling of the nation’s stumbling, fractured founding, through evocative profiles of British loyalists, slaves, Native Americans and soldiers uncertain of what was being founded.
— Christopher Borrelli - Chicago Tribune

The colonists didn’t describe their war for independence as the American Revolution, Pulitzer winner Ellis (American Dialogue) points out in the preface to this richly detailed, multivoiced history. The term they used was “The Cause”—“a conveniently ambiguous label that provided a verbal canopy under which a diverse variety of political and regional persuasions could coexist.” Ellis skillfully charts those divergent interests.... Profiles of lesser-known figures including Continental Army soldier Joseph Plumb Martin and Mohawk chief Joseph Brant add depth and nuance to a familiar story. This expert account highlights the “improvisational” nature of America’s founding.

— Publishers Weekly

With his characteristically graceful prose, Ellis offers a short, straightforward history of a critical decade in the nation’s youth.... [from] a master storyteller known for perceptive detailing. As is always the case with Ellis, he is brilliant at short takes—events, decisions, individuals.... True to his own skills at bringing people alive, Ellis also includes sympathetic mini-profiles of normal, unsung participants in the period’s fraught events: loyalists, women, Native Americans, Joseph Plum Martin (“the Zelig of the American Revolution”), and, perhaps the most captivating, Washington’s personal slave, Billy Lee.... It’s hard to imagine a better-told brief history of the key years of the American Revolution.
— Kirkus Reviews

Ellis’s witty style and astute analysis make this essential reading for historians and enthusiasts at all levels who want to disentangle the complex historiography of the American Revolution.
— Margaret Kappanadze, Library Journal, starred review

Ruing Washington’s postwar hesitance to set an example by freeing his slaves, Ellis underscores the moral failings and deferrals that were then deemed necessary to ensure political unity. In all, a fresh and astute analysis of the American Revolution.
— Gilbert Taylor - Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9781631498985
ISBN-10: 1631498983
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: September 21st, 2021
Pages: 400
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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