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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Publication Date: 2014
Written from a strikingly fresh perspective, this new account of the Boston Tea Party and the origins of the American Revolution shows how a lethal blend of politics, personalities, and economics led to a war that few people welcomed but nobody could prevent.
In this powerful but fair-minded narrative, British author Nick Bunker tells the story of the last three years of mutual embitterment that preceded the outbreak of Americas war for independence in 1775. It was a tragedy of errors, in which both sides shared responsibility for a conflict that cost the lives of at least twenty thousand Britons and a still larger number of Americans. The British and the colonists failed to see how swiftly they were drifting toward violence until the process had gone beyond the point of no return.
At the heart of the book lies the Boston Tea Party, an event that arose from fundamental flaws in the way the British managed their affairs. By the early 1770s, Great Britain had become a nation addicted to financial speculation, led by a political elite beset by internal rivalry and increasingly baffled by a changing world. When the East India Company came close to collapse, it patched together a rescue plan whose disastrous side effect was the destruction of the tea.
With lawyers in London calling the Tea Party treason, and with hawks in Parliament crying out for revenge, the British opted for punitive reprisals without foreseeing the resistance they would arouse. For their part, Americans underestimated Britains determination not to give way. By the late summer of 1774, when the rebels in New England began to arm themselves, the descent into war had become irreversible.
Drawing on careful study of primary sources from Britain and the United States, An Empire on the Edge sheds new light on the Tea Partys origins and on the roles of such familiar characters as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Thomas Hutchinson. The book shows how the kings chief minister, Lord North, found himself driven down the road to bloodshed. At his side was Lord Dartmouth, the colonial secretary, an evangelical Christian renowned for his benevolence. In a story filled with painful ironies, perhaps the saddest was this: that Dartmouth, a man who loved peace, had to write the dispatch that sent the British army out to fight.
Nick Bunker is the author of Making Haste from Babylon, a history of the Mayflower Pilgrims, described by The Washington Post as "a remarkable success." Educated at Kings College, Cambridge, and Columbia University, he was a journalist for the Liverpool Echo and the Financial Times, and then an investment banker, chiefly with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. During his careers in journalism and finance, he traveled widely in China, India, the former Soviet bloc, and the United States. He now lives in Lincolnshire, England.
Winner of the 2015 George Washington Prize
Winner of the 2015 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award
"Bunker's tightly argued and deeply researched book shows how a broader perspective can shed new light on even the most familiar events." Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year (Honorable Mention)
"Bunker's tightly argued and deeply researched book shows how a broader perspective can shed new light on even the most familiar events." Foreign Affairs
"[A] bracing gallop through the three years leading up to the 'shot heard round the world' at Lexington, Mass., in April 1775. Mr. Bunker provides an especially lucid portrait of the woes of the East India Co., a privately owned company so closely connected to the political elite that it effectively functioned as an instrument of British state power." The Wall Street Journal
"Absorbing and detailed. . . . Bunker's narrative is human and even-handed; and from the Boston harbourside to the salons of London, a complex and epic tale is told with colour and enthusiasm. It should even go down well in Boston." Sinclair McKay, The Sunday Telegraph
"Highly recommended." Andrew Lambert, BBC History Magazine
"Enthralling. . . . Bunker sets the story in its global context. However, he is also good at zeroing in on the local and unfamiliar." Ben Wilson, The London Times
"Lively, well-researched and replete with many unexpected twists and turns, "Empire on the Edge" succeeds in deepening our understanding of a war Bunker clearly believes the British should never have fought." Rosemary Michaud, The Post and Courier
"Bunkers is a fascinating historical account, with implications that go beyond its subject matter into the question of how empire-building works or doesnt." The Columbus Dispatch
"Utterly absorbing and full of colour, we learn afresh what a mess Britain made of leaving America and, crucially and importantly, how that mess shaped the American psyche." Justin Webb, The Today Programme (BBC)
"Nearly two and a half centuries after the fact, it would seem all but impossible to shed fresh light and insight into the origins of the American Revolution. And yet, this is precisely what journalist-turned-financial analyst-turned-historian Nick Bunker has accomplished in a majestic new study of the events leading up to shots being fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775." The Manchester Journal
"A nuanced global analysis of Britains failure to hold onto its American colonies. . . . riveting. . . . With a sharp eye for economic realities, Bunker persuasively demonstrates why the American Revolution had to happen." Publishers Weekly (boxed review)
"An eye-opening study of the British view of the American Revolution and why they were crazy to fight it. . . . the failure of British leadership to recognize the warning signs will astonish readers who thought the Revolution was just about tea. A scholarly yet page-turning, superbly written history." Kirkus (starred review)
"Nick Bunker dazzles the reader with a deeply researched and clear-eyed accounting of the dissolution of the mightybut woefully overextendedBritish Empire, and in particular its 13 colonies in North America. Bunker's mellifluous prose fairly jumps off the page, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into this intricate and fascinating tale." William D. Cohan
From the Hardcover edition.