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


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The Spirit of '74

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The Spirit of ’74: How the American Revolution Began

The New Press, June, 2015

Most people understand that the American Revolution began in Massachusetts. What they may not know is that the revolution actually began well over a year before the gunfire at Lexington and Concord... This revolution in Massachusetts was not brought about by the well-known “names” associated with the revolutionary period but rather by little known locals supported by many thousands of ordinary people.... In a very real sense what became the American Revolution joined the revolution that had already taken place in Massachusetts in 1774.

The Raphaels tell this dramatic story in a fascinating and very readable manner. Even knowing that the events of April 19th are just over the horizon, the unfolding of the tale makes for exciting reading.... This book thoroughly explains what took place in Massachusetts between the Boston Tea Party and Lexington/Concord. Without this background of revolution the march to Concord doesn’t make sense. The Spirit of ’74 ties it all together. - Journal of the American Revolution
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“Independence did not come until 1776, but Massachusetts moved from resistance through rebellion and insurrection into a fully revolutionary situation two years earlier. The Raphaels tell that story in this highly readable book, ... an ever-more-tense account of a whole order crashing into political rubble: in Boston, where de facto military rule betokened that legitimacy was gone; in the rural counties as crowds closed crown courts; within a militia that changed from an arm of royal power into a force that dared face “the Regulars” down... Revitalizing study of the Revolution is a hot current topic. The story is great, but it needs retelling. The Raphaels offer a model: get the whole story and tell it well.” – Edward Countryman in Journal of American History (103:1, 1 June 2016, pp. 180–181)

“In this concise, lively narrative, spouses Ray (Constitutional Myths) and Marie Raphael (A Boy from Ireland) identify Massachusetts as the cradle of the colonial rebellion against England. The authors persuasively argue that between December 1773 and April 1775, the organized resistance to British authority that developed throughout the former Puritan stronghold amounted to revolution… The Raphaels expertly contextualize how the outbreak of a shooting war at Lexington and Concord marked a crucial ‘turning point’ in, rather than the beginning of, the American Revolution.” — Publishers Weekly
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“A well-conceived work of popular history that fills a gap in the chronology of the American Revolution… The authors shine a light on a dark corner of the struggle for American independence.” — Kirkus Review
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“Lively and thoroughly researched … The story [of the Revolution’s onset] is unlikely to be done any more fleetly – or grippingly – than this compact little gem the Raphaels have given us.” — Open Letter Monthly 
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“Ray and Marie Raphael provide readers with the lively story of how, starting with the Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts turned from resistance to revolution in a single year. Using well-chosen quotations from participants, as well as revealing anecdotes, their masterful narrative brings to life the human drama of this grassroots transformation.”
—Richard Brown, Distinguished Professor of History emeritus, University of Connecticut

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