Earlier in the week I read Joseph Ellis’ Revolutionary Summer to kick off my yearly tribute to American Independence. Ellis should be familiar to readers here, as I enjoy his narrative histories of the revolutionary and early republican period of America enormously. Revolutionary Summer follows two interlapped threads of the revolution, political and military, as they flowed together. That summer was the summer in which a tax rebellion sharpened into a bid for complete independence, and it started before the Declaration of Independence. In May, for instance, the colonies began working on their own constitutions, superseding the earlier ones granted through the king’s authority. British commitment to reversing the rebellion – two diplomat-generals and a task force of 50,000 men, carried on the largest fleet ever seen off the waters of North America – also made it clear that a threshold had been passed: both sides were committed, root, hog, or die.
I’m using Ellis’ book to kick off my annual tribute to American independence, or rather the early Republic since I tend to read little about the war itself. I am no less fatigued with politics than I was last year, however, largely because the political atmosphere here is still charged and turbulent, and so will be cutting the politics with literature and one travel memoir. Expect a biography of a forgotten founder, at least one book on the Constitution, and a bit of literature. I’ll most likely use my Classics Club list to provide the spot of American lit.