The Revolutionary War

A Historiographical Summary

Authored by: Edward G. Lengel

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533805
eBook ISBN: 9781315817347
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813354


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Americans debated the meaning of the Revolutionary War while its battles still raged, and sought to define its place in history as soon as the guns fell silent. In this respect it mirrored other wars. Strangely, though, the Revolutionary War has become nebulous in American historical memory. While the causes and course of the Revolution—as distinct from the Revolutionary War—seem cut and dried, interpretations of the war remain embedded in mythology. Many important aspects of the war remained unstudied until the 1950s. Innovative interpretations of broad issues in strategy, tactics and leadership did not surface until after the Vietnam era. Instead of developing improved concepts, challenges to these interpretations have often been atavistic rather than original.

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