The Men Who Lost America

British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire

Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy

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A unique account of the American Revolution, told from the perspective of the leaders who conducted the British war effort

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.
In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George III, Prime Minister Lord North, military leaders including General Burgoyne, the Earl of Sandwich, and others who, for the most part, led ably and even brilliantly. Victories were frequent, and in fact the British conquered every American city at some stage of the Revolutionary War. Yet roiling political complexities at home, combined with the fervency of the fighting Americans, proved fatal to the British war effort. The book concludes with a penetrating assessment of the years after Yorktown, when the British achieved victories against the French and Spanish, thereby keeping intact what remained of the British Empire.

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy is Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, and professor of history, University of Virginia. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

"[An] engaging study."—Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal

"Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy has written a remarkable book about an important but curiously underappreciated subject: the British side of the American Revolution. With meticulous scholarship and an eloquent writing style, O'Shaughnessy gives us a fresh and compelling view of a critical aspect of the struggle that changed the world. This is a great book."—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

"An extensively researched, gracefully written study."—John Taylor, Washington Times

"Scrupulously researched and superbly written, these humanizing portraits of conventional cardboard figures from American history offer, like all great history, lessons for today: military might does not guarantee political success; do not try to govern that which you do not own; and resist empire's temptations."—Gary Hart, United States Senator (Ret.)

"Deeply researched, carefully argued, and clearly written, The Men Who Lost America cuts through the thick crust of romantic myths to cast the American Revolution in a refreshing new light. Blessed with an impartial, open mind, Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy reveals the talents as well as the human foibles of a rich cast of intriguing characters including America's last king. In the end, O'Shaughnessy gives the American revolutionaries exactly what their story has so long needed: worthy adversaries who fought hard and well."—Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies

"Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Men Who Lost America is a great achievement. It will provide any interested reader with a delightfully user-friendly way of understanding how and why the British lost the revolutionary war."—Pauline Maier, author of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

"Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy brings the human experience of the Revolutionary era to life in these graceful sketches of ten British political and military leaders. To see the period from the perspective of the able, earnest men who struggled to hold the British Empire together is to understand the origins of the United States in ways that Americans have seldom tried to imagine them. It’s about time we did, and there’s no better place to start than with this book."—Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder

"Much of [the book's] value lies in the sheer volume of engaging material it brings together and in the originality of its organization and approach to a much studied question, namely why Britain lost the War of the American Revolution. . . . A treasure-trove of information on the British operation of the War.”—Richard Johnson, University of Washington

"[O’Shaughnessy] shatters entrenched stereotypes."—William Anthony Hay, The National Interest

"A delightfully myth-shattering book."—Open Letters Monthly

"[A] superb new study . . . the work of an historian in thorough command of his sources who writes with admirable grace and acuity. Since this is only his second book, we can all look forward to many more good things from Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy."—Edward Short, The Weekly Standard

"A graceful, perceptive portrait of Great Britain's politicians and commanders of the Revolutionary War."—Sarah Vowell, in Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
Winner of the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival in the Regional Literature category, given by JM Northern Media LLC

Winner of the 2014 Cincinnati History Prize sponsored by the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey

Received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the U.S. History category

Winner of the 2014 George Washington Book Prize sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the prize recognizes the year’s best books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history

Finalist for the 2013 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

Winner of the New-York Historical Society's annual American history book prize

Won the 2014 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award

Shortlisted for the 2014 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill University

The 2014 American Revolution Round Table of Richmond Book Award

Winner of the Society for Military History 2015 Distinguished Book Award in the U.S. category

Winner of the 2015 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Excellence in American History Book Award
ISBN: 9780300209402
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
480 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
33 color illus. + 7 maps

Sales Restrictions: Not for sale in the U.K. and British Commonweath, excluding Canada
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