SOCIAL HISTORIES

The lives of ordinary people are the focus of these books about the American Revolution. The American Revolution, The Bottom-Up View, Edward Countryman, (New York: Hill & Wang, 1985)

This skillful summation of the new ``social history'' of the Revolution explains how diverse circumstances in the colonies congealed into the war for independence. It has extensive footnotes and bibliography, yet is written with a journalistic flair for concrete local detail.

The Minutemen and Their World, Robert A. Gross (New York: Hill & Wang, 1976)

Concord was a town in economic decline, polarized between town-dwellers and those living on the outskirts. The big problem here - as elsewhere - was a dwindling amount of land for fathers to distribute among their sons. This account has details most readers probably never thought of, such as how the violence of the war weighed for years upon the young men who fought it - long before the phrase ``post-traumatic stress syndrome'' was invented.

The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790, Rhys Isaac (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982)

Whether to accept a bishop appointed from England became an issue full of symbolic portent in the Virginia of 1771. A Baptist ``counterculture'' had arisen in response to the dominant planter gentry. By 1775, the buckskin shirts of the backwoods riflemen had replaced the more genteel dress of the gentry as uniforms of the patriots, signaling the emotive break from the mother country.

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