Book Review: Igniting the America Revolution, 1773-1775

Igniting the American Revolution on AmazonPaul Revere’s famous ride[1] on April 18, 1775, roused the Minute Men and eventually by the evening of April 19th 3,716 enrolled militia would engage 1,934 British troops in the first military encounter of the American  Revolution.  The “shot heard round the world” [2] was much more than a single shot.

“The best estimate of casualties on the American side is forty-nine killed, forty-two wounded and five missing. … The British suffered sixty-five killed, 181 wounded, and another twenty-six missing…”[3]

With Igniting the American Revolution, 1773-1775 Author and Air Force Major Derek Beck presents a unique combination of the political and military history of the earliest days of the American Revolutionary War.  The result reads like an action novel but brings home in a very real way, the dangers faced by America’s patriots.

So much of history is devoted to philosophical, political and legal results, and this is not unusual, because it is the philosophical, political and legal that motivates and inspires the military.[4]  However, reflecting that the very first day of armed conflict between the Americans and British resulted in 114 dead brings home the real sacrifice for liberty that was the American Revolution.

In opening Igniting the American Revolution with both the reasons behind and detailed execution of The Boston Tea Party, Major Beck reveals how seriously even an apparently small imposition of British authority over colonists, a three pence per pound tax on tea,[5] was worth committing the criminal act of destroying over 92,000 pounds of tea[6] owned by the British East India Company.

The vision of a distant government exercising ANY control over their lives would become enough for Americans to die to prevent.  On April 19, 1775 forty-five Americans would do so.

Igniting the American Revolution brings to life the people of Boston and Massachusetts in the lead up to armed conflict.  There’s a balanced picture of American patriots, British loyalists and royal representatives.  Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, Dr. Benjamin Church and General Thomas Gage are not shown as caricatures, but as complete human beings.  The arrogance of British leaders in London becomes clear with a humiliation of Ben Franklin and dismissal of reports from America about the dangers to the empire.[7]

Derek BekIgniting the American Revolution combines people, politics and military insight to create an educational, entertaining and inspirational page turning rendition of history.  Beck thoroughly documents the events in this book, but does not interrupt the narrative with the documentation.  The style and content makes the book a great read for all readers, and an accurate portrayal and source for the serious historian.

This book is the first in Major Beck’s ten year project about the American Revolution targeted for completion in time for the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.


[1] Revere himself did not finish the ride.  He was captured by the British.  With the British target being military supplies stored at Concord, a 24 year old doctor, Samuel Prescott, whom Revere had met along the way, escaped capture and ultimately got to Concord with the warning of the coming British troops.

[2] By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn”

[3] Igniting the American Revolution, page 114.

[4] Constitutional Sound Bites by contrast, concentrates on the philosophical, political and legal. The military dimension of Igniting the American Revolution, reveals the effect of philosophical, political and legal on those who actually take up arms.

[5] A little less than 2 cents per pound in 2016 dollars.

[6] That’s enough to fill 18.5 million teabags. The present-day value of the destroyed tea has been estimated at around $1 million. The total tax would have been about $1500.

[7] The London response to brewing problems in America reveals an arrogance.  If the phrase “jv team” had existed in the late 18th Century, it likely would have been employed by the King and Parliament.


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