My American Revolution: A Modern Expedition Through History’s Forgotten Battlegrounds

Non-Fiction
  • * A "Best Book of the Year" -- Wall Street Journal

Americans tend to think of the Revolution as a Massachusetts-based event orchestrated by Virginians, but in fact the war took place mostly in the Middle Colonies—in New York and New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. In My American Revolution, Robert Sullivan delves into this first Middle America, digging for a glorious, heroic past in the urban, suburban, and sometimes even rural landscape of today.

 

 

Sullivan’s history is personal, anecdotal, experiential. He visits the down-home reenactment of the crossing of the Delaware, which has taken place each year for the past half  century, and uncovers the fact behind the myth. He camps in New Jersey backyards, hikes through lost “mountains,” and wrecks his back—then evacuates illegally from Brooklyn to Manhattan by handmade boat. He recounts a Brooklyn historian’s failed attempt to memorialize a colonial Maryland regiment; a tattoo artist’s more successful use of a colonial submarine, which resulted in his 2007 arrest by the New York City police and the FBI; and the life of Philip Freneau, the first (and not great) poet of American independence, who died in a swamp in the snow.

 

 

Like an almanac, My American Revolution moves through the calendar of American independence with the eternally charming Robert Sullivan as our guide. This is a fiercely individual and often hilarious journey; in the process of making our revolution his, Sullivan shows us how alive our own history is, right under our noses.