Contrary to popular belief, the American Revolutionary War was not a limited and restrained struggle for political self-determination. From the onset of hostilities, British authorities viewed their American foes as traitors to be punished, and British abuse of American prisoners – both tacitly condoned and at times officially sanctioned – proliferated.
Meanwhile, more than 17,000 British and Allied soldiers fell into American hands during the Revolution. For a fledgling nation that could barely afford to keep an army in the field, the issue of how to manage prisoners of war was daunting.
Captives of Liberty examines how America’s founding generation grappled with the problems posed by prisoners of war and how this influenced the wider social and political legacies of the Revolution.
As the British denied customary protections to their American captives, the revolutionary leadership wasted no time in capitalizing on the prisoners’ ordeals for propagandistic purposes. Enraged, ordinary Americans began to demand vengeance, and they viewed British soldiers and their German and Native American auxiliaries as appropriate targets. This cycle of violence spiraled out of control, transforming the struggle for colonial independence into a revolutionary war.
The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.
Praise for the book:
“Shines brilliant new light on the question of just how brutal the American Revolutionary War really was…a magisterial work.” (James Kirby Martin, author of Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero)
“A significant contribution to the historiography of the Revolution.” (Andrew O’Shaughnessy, author of The Men Who Lost America)
“This superb and engrossing study presents a war not only for but also between hearts and minds…” (Holly Mayer, author of Belonging to the Army)
There are no reviews yet.