Liberty’s Exiles: The Loss of America and the Remaking of the British Empire by Maya Jasanoff - review by Piers Brendon

Piers Brendon

For King and Countries

Liberty’s Exiles: The Loss of America and the Remaking of the British Empire

By

HarperPress 460pp £30 order from our bookshop
 

In the hot summer of 1775 a young man called Thomas Brown, who had recently emigrated from England to establish a large plantation near Augusta in Georgia, confronted an angry mob on the porch of his mansion. They demanded that he should throw in his lot with the American revolutionaries. He refused, saying that he did not want to fight his neighbours but that he ‘could never enter into an Engagement to take up arms against the Country which gave him being’.

So they hit him over the head, tortured him into endorsing the ‘patriot’ cause and finally poured lighted pitch over his feet. Battered and burned, with two of his toes reduced to charred stubs, Brown not only survived but escaped. He repudiated his coerced defection and became one

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