Best Defense

A handy guide to current historical thinking on the American Revolution

Some surprising facts from the American Revolution.

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The July issue of the Journal of Military History has a good article by Purdue historian T. Cole Jones on the treatment of Tories during the American Revolution. I didn’t know, for example, that historians now think that 19 percent of white American adults opposed the revolution.

Nor did I know that conditions on the American prison ships were worse than those on the British ones. (I did know that the Newgate prison, just north of Hartford, CT, was awful — prisoners were put in an old copper mine, nearly 70 feet below ground. I keep on meaning to visit it but it was closed for renovations the last time I was in the area.)

But what I really liked about Jones’s article were the footnotes, which amount to a bibliography of recent historical work on the American Revolution.

Meantime, a book review elsewhere in the same July issue has a great “lead,” or “lede,” as journalists write it. Asks the Naval Academy’s Richard Ruth, “How do you solve a problem like Norodom Sihanouk?”

Photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1

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