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Red Coats and Rebels

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Introduction

Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution through British Eyes Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution through British Eyes is a book on the history of the American Revolution which is written in a unique way. Like the United States, Great Britain has lost only one major war in the last three centuries which makes us look more in depth about it. In this book, the author Christopher Hibbert stays away from the traditional method of favouring the Americans when telling the story of their Revolution. Instead, he talks about the subject with the perspective of the British but in doing so; he does not talk about the events in favour of the British to the point that the reader does not recognize the basic story. While there is nothing radically new in this book, Hibbert succeeds in providing a great insight into the decision making processes and senior leadership on both sides and he points to three reasons for the British defeat: poor leadership, the difficulty of the terrain and the tenacity of the American rebels. ...read more.

Middle

The second factor that determined the defeat of the British, according to Hibbert, was the rugged and expansive nature of the American terrain, which always provided the rebels with places to escape British offensives. There is no doubt that the British army in America was too small for the task; Hibbert notes that the British estimated that they needed 50-75,000 troops to subdue the rebels but never had more than 35,000 troops available at any one time. As the Americans found that the British could control any terrain they occupied but their forces were just too small to fight war on such a huge scale. Previous campaigns against rebels in Ireland, Scotland and England had not had to contend with such major terrain obstacles or distances. Hibbert also credits the tenacity of the Americans particularly George Washington and Greene with protracting the war until British gradually decreased in size, amount and strength. A major area that Hibbert only skims around is the issue of strategic objectives in America. Did Britain really have a chance to achieve a military victory and if so, what strategy offered the best chances? ...read more.

Conclusion

and navy forces were retained in Great Britain in order to prevent the occurrence of a French and Spanish invasion, but this was a failure. Essentially, Britain made a choice from a range of possibilities to fight the war the cheap way but was forced into a gradual military escalation that kept the war going but could not win it. A reader coming to this book with only a limited knowledge about the American Revolution history will walk away with a new judgement of how difficult a war it was for both sides. Readers will understand how Britain was not united on how to conduct the war or even that it was the right thing to do. Hibbert shows how close George Washington came to losing the war and how the British commanders were in fighting it. This is a compelling story told from a fresh point of view. Hibbert raises the bar with his easy prose and compact storytelling. One of the biggest points of Redcoats and Rebels is that, despite knowing the outcome, I often caught myself rooting for British and wondering if they were going to overcome the rebels. ...read more.

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