ANOTHER book about the American Revolution calls for a Word of explanation. Few fields of history have been more intensively cultivated by successive generations of historians; few offer less reward in the shape of fresh facts or theories. Nevertheless, the lack of a one-volume history of our struggle for independence and the need of a concise restatement of the results of a century and a half of historical scholarship seem to warrant this addition to already crowded Shelves.
Moreover, it is a story that bears retelling. American democracy will always profit by going back to its origins. The spirit and philosophy of the era that gave birth to the Declaration of Independence are perennial sources of strength to Americans in days of trial and doubt; to recapture this faith and resolution is a compulsive need of democracy in our time.
Yet this story is by no means wholly one of heroism and self-sacrifice: as the war progressed, lethargy, indifference, and the spirit of moneymaking began to supplant the earlier idealism. It is significant that this decline in morale coincides with the onset of inflation. Not even the spiritual values of the American Revolution could withstand the blighting influence of that inflation, the worst in American history.
Although this book is addressed to a larger audience than scholars and experts in the field, I have tried to abide by the canons of historical scholarship. It has been found advisable, however, to dispense with citations of sources. If I were to do full justice to my sources, there would be a lengthy footnote at the end of virtually every sentence -- in which case, my text would be submerged in my footnotes. This I cannot bring myself to inflict upon readers already obliged to grapple with a book of formidable proportions. In compensation for this omission, I have appended a bibliography which, in a general way, will serve to indicate my sources and underscore the more important books relating to the American Revolution.
I am deeply indebted to Mr. Stanley Salmen for the invaluable editorial assistance he has given me in preparing this book for the press.
JOHN C. MILLER Rosemont, Pennsylvania