‘A beautifully balanced book… well-crafted and riveting’
The Men Who Lost America
British Command during the Revolutionary War and the Preservation of the EmpireAndrew O'Shaughnessy
In 1781 the British Empire suffered its most devastating defeat in a war that most believed Britain ought to have won. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in London must have been to blame, their arrogant confidence and outdated tactics proving no match for the innovative and determined Americans. But this is far from the truth. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the myths, emerging with a very different and much richer account of the conflict – one driven by able and at times even brilliant leadership.
In interlinked biographical chapters, O’Shaughnessy 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 whose stories shed new light upon our understanding of how the war unfolded. Victories were frequent, and in fact the British conquered every American city at some stage of the Revolutionary War, retaining key strongholds even during the peace negotiations. Taking a wider lens to events, O’Shaughnessy looks past the surrender at Yorktown to British victories against the French and Spanish, demonstrating that, ultimately, many of the men who lost America would go on to save the empire.
"First-rank revisionist history."
“Fascinating, well written and extensively researched."
"A perfect demonstration of how modern scholarship and original thought can change the way that we think about the past. It is a brilliant book."
"A first-rate study, scholarly, yet accessible."
"Challenges the conventional view...fascinating."
'Further enriches our appreciation of the American Revolution… O’Shaughnessy’s biographical sketches are captivating and will be read with enjoyment by academics and general readers alike.'
'[The] work of an historian in thorough command of his sources who writes with admirable grace and acuity.'
'Engaging...keeps the whole picture firmly in view: Britain, North America, the Caribbean, the balance-of-power politics on the Continent-all affected by the colonial rebellion.'
‘O’Shaughnessy artfully weaves the entire breadth and sweep of the wars of the American Revolution [and] destroys certain deeply entrenched myths.’
'Extensively researched, gracefully written'