Ray Raphael’s book, A People’s History of the American Revolution, is part of a series edited by Howard Zinn, that has as its main thesis the idea that common people, not the powerful politicians and warriors, were the ones who rallied, fought and eventually won America’s independence from the Crown. Within the context of the theme, Raphael suggests that the common patriotic heroes of the day were not necessarily patriotic in the sense that people often think. Soldiers, women, Native Americans and African Americans often performed their duties, not out of a sense of pride, but out of necessity and in many cases did so against their wills. Also within the theme, he brings out the point that many of the common players in the war did what they did as a means of survival and not because of a burning love of country. Nevertheless, the result of the common people’s actions was the independence of the colonies.
Ray Raphael is a northern California native, who has written several books prior to A People’s History of the American Revolution, all of which brings the common man to the forefront of political issues. In so doing Raphael retells history in ways that give readers insights to the less and often non-publicized roles that regular people from all walks of life play in the shaping of historical events. A People’s History of the American Revolution continues in this vein and fits well into the category of revealing the other side of the story to readers—a side that is usually left out of mainstream books on history.
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