My American Revolution by Robert Sullivan

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Sullivan seems to often be attempting to live in the past and the present simultaneously and the book certainly captures that sense of layers of history one atop the other. It’s a unique look at American history that is definitely worth the attention of history buffs.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

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 the parts of Pennsylvania that on a clear day you can almost see from the Empire State Building. In My American Revolution, Robert Sullivan delves into this first Middle America, digging for a glorious, heroic part of the past in the urban, suburban, and sometimes even rural landscape of today. And there are great adventures along the way: Sullivan investigates the true history of the crossing of the Delaware, its down-home reenactment each year for the past half a century, and—toward the end of a personal odyssey that involves camping in New Jersey backyards, hiking through lost "mountains," and eventually some physical therapy—he 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. Last but not least, along New York harbor, Sullivan re-creates an ancient signal beacon.

Like an almanac, My American Revolution moves through the calendar of American independence, considering the weather and the tides, the harbor and the estuary and the yearly return of the stars as salient factors in the war for independence. In this fiercely individual and often hilarious journey to make our revolution his, he shows us how alive our own history is, right under our noses.

 

About Robert Sullivan

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Robert Sullivan is the author of Rats, The Meadowlands, A Whale Hunt, and most recently, The Thoreau You Don't Know. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, A Public Space and Vogue, where he is a contributing editor. He was born in Manhattan and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published September 4, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 273 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for My American Revolution
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Sam Roberts on Nov 21 2012

The reader more or less returns to the starting point, but with a brand-new perspective. What a trip!

Read Full Review of My American Revolution | See more reviews from NY Times

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Rhetta Akamatsu on Oct 30 2013

Sullivan seems to often be attempting to live in the past and the present simultaneously and the book certainly captures that sense of layers of history one atop the other. It’s a unique look at American history that is definitely worth the attention of history buffs.

Read Full Review of My American Revolution | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Reader Rating for My American Revolution
67%

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