Nigel Jones

An Uncivil War

1776: When Britain and America Went to War

By

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 368pp £20 order from our bookshop

Civil wars are notoriously the worst of all armed conflicts. To the miseries of danger, death, wounds, heat, cold, disease, fatigue and separation from homes and loved ones is added an extra twist – the division of families, friends and neighbours, which often produces extreme abysses of savagery absent from ‘normal’ wars between nations. Recently, historians of the American War of Independence have revised the traditional view that this was a clean and clear-cut colonial conflict, the noble birth of a new nation. Instead, they have reconfigured the story of the struggle as a complex civil war between Americans over two diametrically different visions of their country’s future.

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