Russell Shorto
Revolution Song by Russell Shorto

Revolution Song

A Story of American Freedom

An engaging piece of historical detective work and narrative craft.”

Chicago Tribune

Russell Shorto introduces Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom

From the author of the acclaimed history The Island at the Center of the World, an intimate new epic of the American Revolution that reinforces its meaning for today. “…a decidedly refreshing approach… Shorto’s achievement is a remarkable one” — The New York Times Book Review. A tour de force” — Gordon S. Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution.

Russell Shorto’s work has been praised as first-rate intellectual history” (Wall Street Journal), literary alchemy” (Chicago Tribune) and simply astonishing” (New York Times). In his epic new book, Russell Shorto takes us back to the founding of the American nation, drawing on diaries, letters and autobiographies to flesh out six lives that cast the era in a fresh new light. They include an African man who freed himself and his family from slavery, a rebellious young woman who abandoned her abusive husband to chart her own course and a certain Mr. Washington, who was admired for his social graces but harshly criticized for his often-disastrous military strategy.

Through these lives we understand that the revolution was fought over the meaning of individual freedom, a philosophical idea that became a force for violent change. A powerful narrative and a brilliant defense of American values, Revolution Song makes the compelling case that the American Revolution is still being fought today and that its ideals are worth defending.

The intertwined stories of Revolution Song give a sense of how far-reaching a phenomenon the War of Independence was. It leaves to readers the pleasure of judging what each of the figures in the book — or perhaps the combination of them all — contributed to an event that changed the world.”

With symphonic sweep, cinematic detail and compelling, superbly researched real-life characters, Shorto shows how our struggle for freedom began and why it remains so sadly unfinished. If Spielberg wrote history, this is how it would read.”

— Howard Fineman, NBC News analyst and author of The Thirteen American Arguments

Russell Shorto’s engaging new book appears at a moment when basic concepts of rights and equality are routinely disparaged. As if in response to our troubled political culture, he invites readers to return to the American Revolution to understand better how an 18th-century commitment to freedom took root and became a fundamental, unifying value in our nation’s history.… [Shorto has] produced a compelling work that reads almost like a good detective story.… Shorto deserves praise for reminding us of the complexity of freedom’s claims.”

— Brian Greer, American Scholar

[Shorto’s] attention to everyday detail anchors his portraits and helps reveal the precariousness of freedom in an unequal, rapidly changing society.”

Publishers Weekly

Timely and engaging.… [Shorto] explores the philosophical currents of the revolutionary era through an unusual assemblage of life stories.… Their experiences make for a compelling narrative, rich in unexpected twists, turns, and parallels, that allows Shorto to explore how engagement with revolutionary ideals reflected social and economic class, gender, region, race, culture, and political allegiance.”

Booklist (starred review)

We as Native Americans tend to relay our history in story form. The people become real in our minds and the stories vivid and compelling. Shorto has succeeded in telling this tale as a master Native storyteller would. He weaves the complex strands of time together wonderfully as if I were hearing them in the warm firelight of a bark longhouse.”

— Michael Galban, curator, Seneca Art & Culture Center, Ganondagan State Historic Site

An engaging piece of historical detective work and narrative craft.”

Chicago Tribune

Russell Shorto has long had an astonishing talent for adjusting the focus in ways that make familiar swaths of history seem intriguingly foreign and fresh. With Revolution Song, he’s worked his magic again. Through his vigorous language, his mastery of archival sources, and the pleasing interweave of his six carefully chosen characters, Shorto has composed a powerful polyphonic story, simultaneously grand and intimate, that makes us hear (and see and feel) the tumult of our nation’s founding as never before.”

— Hampton Sides, New York Times best-selling author of Blood and Thunder and In the Kingdom of Ice

Amazing: Russell Shorto shows us what a diverse, fascinating, cosmopolitan place this country has been since its founding.”

— Charles C. Mann, author of 1491

How did the teenaged daughter of a British officer view the American Revolution, from behind enemy lines in New York? What did that contest mean to a shrewd, contemplative Iroquois warrior? Russell Shorto has emerged from the archives with a bold, largely neglected cast. He has set them free in a rich, prismatic narrative, as intensely vivid as it is seamlessly constructed.”

— Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize – winning author of The Witches: Salem, 1692

Brilliant, captivating and fast-paced, Revolution Song is a wonderfully original take on the American Revolution that reads like a thriller. I couldn’t put this book down.”

— Amy Chua, Yale Law School professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Shorto’s achievement is a remarkable one. The intertwined stories of Revolution Song give a sense of how far-reaching a phenomenon the War of Independence was. It leaves to readers the pleasure of judging what each of the figures in the book — or perhaps the combination of them all — contributed to an event that changed the world.”

New York Times Book Review

Shorto has taken the lives of six very different figures, ranging from a high British official to an African slave, and woven them seamlessly together into an engaging, readable, and surprisingly complete account of the American Revolution. A tour de force.”