I moved back to Virginia this year and it seems to have kicked off a huge Revolutionary War kick for me. I read Nathaniel Philbrick’s trilogy and I started this one. I would have read this one anyway as I am a big fan of Atkinson’s WWII based Liberation Trilogy. Then I got to meet Atkinson at the National Book Festival which made me more excited for this book.
The British Are Coming covers the first two-ish years of the American Revolution. Much like the Liberation Trilogy, Atkinson leaves no stone unturned but his focus is primarily on the people and not only the famous ones. It is also relentless. Atkinson has no warm-up period, he just starts and never slows down which can make his books difficult for those without at least a baseline knowledge of the material. I was a history major and consider myself and a history buff so I followed along pretty quickly but I do think that reading the other American Revolution trilogy certainly helped.
I can’t help but compare Atkinson to other historians, especially the prize winners. Philbrick tends to follow a few significant people through a period in a very detail way. McCullough is just about what happened without a focus on a single individual, at least 1776 is this way. Atkinson tells the events through the people that were there. I can’t pick a favorite but I think Atkinson is drier that Philbrick but more entertaining the McCullough.