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Revolutionary Roads

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Member Reviews

The author did all of the exhaustive research and collated into a mobile course and a highly readable text so that all sorts of us can learn and enjoy. Not only does he point out how things might have turned out differently at various points, but also gave us the correct information that refutes some of the myths and legends that we hold dear.
I requested and received a digital galley edition from Twelve Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

After finishing I sent a print copy to our son who was raised in the Northwest Territory Alliance and graduated from Duluth, MN with History Honors.

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Bob Thompson's book, "Revolutionary Roads," takes readers on a dual journey through the paths of the American Revolutionary War. On one hand, his travelogue narrates the actual troop movements of the war, providing an on-the-ground, real-time unfolding perspective. It begins with the initial shots fired in Lexington and culminates in the decisive battle in Yorktown. Simultaneously, Thompson retraces these historical routes himself, map in hand, adding 12,000 miles to his odometer in the process. His ability to peer past the factory buildings, fast-food joints, and schoolyards that have obfuscated the landscape of 247 years ago allows us to see the battlegrounds as the combatants themselves once did.

Thompson's pithy writing style, exemplified by phrases like "What if those cannon hadn't gotten to Washington in time?," warmly engages readers while remaining informative. He seamlessly blends historical analysis with insightful observations from docents, curators, historians, and fellow history enthusiasts. As we walk the fields beside Thompson, he expertly weaves together historical analysis, strategic insights, and personal anecdotes to bring the battlefields to life.

One of the strengths of "Revolutionary Roads" lies in its ability to highlight the significance of seemingly small moments in history. Through the examination of these "tiny, fraught tipping points," Thompson showcases how the course of the war could have been altered with different outcomes. He acknowledges the allure and unanswerability of "what-if" questions, emphasizing their essential role in challenging the assumption that events happened because they were destined to.

Thompson skillfully avoids presenting the entire book as an 'alternative history.' However, his fascination with the countless possibilities for unexpected outcomes is palpable. He recognizes that even the smallest events, comparable to a butterfly's wing flap in chaos theory, hold the potential to profoundly alter subsequent developments.

"Revolutionary Roads" successfully addresses gaps in our collective knowledge, exposing the limited understanding of important events, figures, and consequences. Thompson acknowledges the complexities of historical research, including inadequate information, conflicting sources, political bias, wartime propaganda, and conspiracy theories. He highlights that these issues apply not only to the classroom view of the Battle of Lexington but also to all theaters of the war.

In addressing popular myths, Thompson fact-checks whether anyone actually said, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." He candidly admits, "If so, we have no proof."

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Revolutionary Roads is a travelogue that takes readers on a journey through the key sites of the American Revolution. Author Bob Thompson travels over 20,000 miles and visits history-shaping battlefields from Georgia to Quebec. He also hangs out with passionate lovers of revolutionary history whose vivid storytelling and deep knowledge of their subject enrich his own.

Thompson's writing is engaging and informative, and he does a great job of bringing the past to life. He tells the stories of the people who fought and died in the Revolution, and he explores the political and social context of the time. He also doesn't shy away from the darker side of the Revolution, such as the treatment of Native Americans and the use of slavery.

Revolutionary Roads is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that will appeal to anyone interested in American history. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the Revolution and the people who made it happen.

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Reimagining what “might have been” is something we all do with the past, with capital H history and the events of our own lives. In his book, Bob Thompson undertakes what he describes as a “ridiculously ambitious, one-person staff ride of the Revolutionary War.” (A “Staff Ride” is an educational tour for military officers, to learn from battles of the past). His goal is to consider the possible alternative outcomes for the battles of the American war of independence. He argues, “We don’t know this story as well as we should—or how easily the ending could have changed.”

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Road trip! In Revolutionary Roads, Bob Thompson decides to quite literally head to the battlefields. He visits many of the major sites of the American Revolution and listens to the many experts he comes across along the way.

Thompson's style is free and easy. He writes about history in a mostly non-serious way and adds some flair to the drier sections. There is a fair amount of summing up the battles although a few like Saratoga get in-depth analysis. Benedict Arnold just begs to be examined with a microscope.

If you are a big Revolution buff, you will not find too much you don't already know. This is more of a "cheat sheet" to the war but you will still find some nuggets which are ignored in most books. Thompson's chapter on Black soldiers in the war is a particular standout.

For someone whose experience with the American Revolution is entirely confined to grade school, this is the perfect book for you. Thompson makes the war come alive and targets an audience who vaguely remembers the facts but is willing to give this time period another look. Thompson brings these revolutionary characters back to life for a casual audience.

(This book was provide as an advance copy by Netgalley and Twelve Books.)

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“Revolutionary Roads: Searching for the War That Made America Independent...and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong,” by Bob Thompson, NetGalley Shelf, 12 Books Publishing, ISBN 9781455565153, Publication Date: 7 February 2023, earns the strongest five stars.

A genuinely exceptional book that is phenomenally supported by exhaustive research…yet there isn’t an easier or more fun read out there! History comes alive, is absolutely human, and still informs and entertains. Prepare to be enthralls! Each chapter makes the reader hungry for the next. I know…you don’t like history, but you will with this “can’t put it down” book!

Sincere thanks to the author, and Kindle Edition (PDF) and 12 Books Publishing, for granting this reviewer the opportunity to read this Advance Reader Copy (ARC), and thanks to NetGalley EPUB for helping to make that possible.

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Bob Thompson's Revolutionary Roads comes as a part of a wonderful trend of "historical travelogues," to sit alongside Nathaniel Philbrick's "Travels With George." This is an excellent road trip companion as we get closer and closer to our nation's 250th anniversary. Now, more than ever should we be reminded of the fact that our independence came at a cost and was never fore-ordained. With Thompson's book in hand, you can revisit places that you think you knew and come away with a much deeper appreciation for the founding of our country. I cannot recommend enough!

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A wonderful travel/history book. The author's summaries of the action at the various location are easy to follow. Admittedlynot an in depth history but the book serves to encourage follow up in areas that would interest the reader.

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this was really well written, it did what I was hoping for from the description. It was a great historical book and I'm glad I was able to go on this journey. It was well written and I enjoyed Bob Thompson's writing style.

"In the spring of 1779, Augustine Prévost was in the twenty-fourth year of his army career. Two decades earlier, a facial wound had left him badly scarred; his men are said to have called him “Old Bullet Head.”

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