Book Review: As if an Enemy’s Country by Richard Archer


Author: Richard Archer
TitleAs if an enemy’s country : the British occupation of Boston and the origins of revolution
Publication Info: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9780195382471
Summary/Review: Sometimes you pick up a book thinking it will be about one thing and discover it’s about something else, and learn a lot in the process.  I thought this book would be about Boston occupied by British troops under siege of the Continental Army ca. 1775-1776.  Instead it is set a few years earlier from 1768 to 1770 when British troops were first sent to police the unruly provincial capital.  I did not know, for starters, that after the Boston Massacre (where this book ends) that British military forces were withdrawn from the city only returning for the later conflict.  Archer creates and interesting panorama of Colonial Boston, small in geography and population, where the army formed 1 out every 5 adult males.  The inevitability of conflict between the troops and the populace in what was effectively an armed camp is discussed, but also the unexpected alliances.  Many merchants who would go on to become Loyalists, for example, were fine with the political dissent against taxation and the occupation at the time.  Archer writes an engaging and informative history of a time and place I thought I knew already.

Recommended booksThe Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution by Alfred F. Young,  Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, and Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence by Jack Tager.
Rating: ***1/2

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