The second of Middlekauffs major theses is that the colonists were overmatched, militarily, and that the superiority of Englands troops almost meant a victory for England. In many history books, the Revolutionary figures are portrayed as almost super-human, and their victory against Englands forces is portrayed as almost divinely mandated. The reality was much uglier and more vivid, and Middlekauff goes into painstaking detail about those battles. While most know that England used hired troops to fight the Revolution, Middlekauff goes into an in-depth description of the hired Hessians and why they were considered such formidable foes. However, he also does a good job of explaining the advantages held by the colonists, including familiarity with the terrain, a guerrilla approach to warfare, and the determination to be free.
Middlekauffs approach to the book is that of a scholar. For example, while he attributes some part of the American victory to the determination to be free, he does not suggest that a colonial victory was inevitable. Instead, he painstakingly examines the causes of the war and the events during the war. This academic approach could actually be somewhat off-putting to the casual reader, especially the casual reader who has been weaned on the idea of American superiority. However, the academic approach is fantastic for a textbook. In many texts, some type of bias makes the material seem suspect. Middlekauff is careful to back-up any opinion that he states with supporting facts. While this may not eliminate all bias, it does help create a very even-handed approach to the Revolution. In fact, Middlekauffs approach was so even-handed that it was difficult for me to discern a bias in his approach.
Obviously he spoke of the colonists as being victorious, but to assume that was some type of bias rather than a reflection of historical fact ignores that the colonists were, in fact, victorious.
Overall, Middlekauffs approach to the American Revolution is extremely thorough. Perhaps the best aspect of the book is that Middlekauff begins his tale of the Revolution before most authors. Rather than simply looking at increasing taxes in the wake of the Seven-Years War, Middlekauff looks at colonial history prior to that war, to help explain exactly why the colonists would be so upset about these tax increases. He then continues the book in a chronological order, which is excellent for someone studying history, because it makes finding particular events and understanding the timeline of the war easier for the reader. Middlekauff uses extensive evidence to support his theses, so that, not once in the entire book did I find myself asking why he would make a statement or hoping that he had used more evidence to support any of his statements. My only real critique of the book would be that I found Middlekauffs writing style to be a bit dry. However, I am not a tremendous fan of non-fiction writing, and I actually found his writing style to be more interesting than that of most non-fiction historical authors.
Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. New York:
Oxford University Press,.