I find it striking that, as presented in episode two of John Adams, the case for independence is distinctly underwhelming. In particular, the point that a rebellion which can only succeed with foreign assistance is as likely to result in domination by France as in freedom from Britain seems like an important cautionary note. What’s more, favored by hindsight and the example of Canada and Australia, the imagine of a non-independent America as destined to be slowly-but-surely ground into a state of tyranny looks wrong.
Conversely, however, the British seemed to be badly missing the big picture as the crisis approached — risking a very valuable series of possessions over some relatively trivial policy issues. Taking the long view, independence looks more like the somewhat tragic result of short-sighted thinking on both sides than like a heroic triumph for the forces of liberty.
Which is a long way of saying, is there a book out there about the revolutionary era people would recommend that’s not in the “no this guy was the best founding father!” genre?