People's History, Founding Myths, and the American Revolution
Ray Raphael - People's Historian


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A People's History of the American Revolution

A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence

10th Anniversary Revised Edition: The New Press, 2016

Published in the UK as The American Revolution: A People’s History

“The best single-volume history of the Revolution I have read.” — Howard Zinn

“Ray Raphael has probably altered the way in which future historians will see events. His narrative is a tour de force.” — Sunday Times (London)

“Fascinating stories of ordinary men and women — black, red, and white, slave and free — whose lives intersected with the great event of the Revolutionary Era. … Raphael uses his considerable gifts as a writer [to weave] a tapestry that uses individual experiences to illustrate the larger stories of social groups.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review


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“Raphael shows how thoroughly the rebellion transformed colonial society and produced a revolution like no other.” — Boston Globe

“Fascinating and scrupulously researched.” — Seattle Times

“An authoritative commentary.” — Times Literary Supplement

“Relentlessly aggressive and unsentimental. … The nervy energy of this People’s History is an arresting antidote to the air of self-satisfied triumphalism that so many Americans casually assume each July 4.” — Fresh Air (NPR).

"Raphael succeeds admirably in bringing to life the excitement, upheaval, and complexity of plebian Americans' participation in the War of Independence. Drawing on a broad array of published eyewitness accounts and displaying a firm command of recent social-historical scholarship, he offers a reliable, extensively documented, and frequently riveting account of how various bodies of "the people" tried to make the Revolution their own." — William and Mary Quarterly

“Moving from broad overviews to stories of small groups or individuals, Raphael’s study is impressive in both its sweep and its attention to the particular. The book will delight, educate and entertain all Revolution buffs.” — Publishers’ Weekly

“Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries.” — Library Journal

“A fresh and compelling history.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The unique value of Raphael’s work lies in its mining, from extant primary sources, of the extraordinary recollections of ordinary eyewitnesses to history.” — Booklist

“He has fashioned a mosaic – history from the bottom up – with impressive skill.” — London Times

“Impressive in both its sweep and its attention to the particular. The book will delight, educate and entertain.” — Publishers’ Weekly

"Raphael is clear about providing context for his material and wisely warns of the danger of judging past behavior according to present values. But he is also intent on showing the hazards of waging war in any time and the compromises to principles that a war against fellow human beings invariably demands. Raphael's remarkable first-person narrative celebrates personal letters, diary entries, wartime stories and memories of common people -- both the enslaved and the free. Representative of the majority of people in 18th century America, these accounts provide us with the true people's history of Revolutionary times." — American Spirit (Daughters of the American Revolution)

“This is an exciting distillation of the discoveries of a generation of scholars about ordinary people in the American Revolution. Their experiences come through with unusual warmth and clarity in Raphael’s generous excerpts from little-known letters, diaries, and memoirs. A very readable, thought-provoking book.” — Alfred F. Young

“A splendid book. We come away having learned that revolution is not a single action of overthrow but a transforming collective experience of endless ambiguity.” — Sheldon Wolin, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

“If you are going to buy one book on American history, this is the man who really knows what he is talking about.” — Joan Rivers

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