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Matthew Lockwood

To Begin The World Over Again

How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe

Yale University Press 2019

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network December 20, 2019 Zeb Larson

Growing up as an American, you’re bound to be all-but-suffused with triumphalist histories of the American Revolution. Those histories might have a tough of...

Growing up as an American, you’re bound to be all-but-suffused with triumphalist histories of the American Revolution. Those histories might have a tough of the Hegelian to them, asserting that the Revolutionary War was part of the inevitable development of freedom worldwide. More academic histories have focused more critically on the war itself and what it meant for American society, such as the fact that a war allegedly fought for freedom also involved the ongoing oppression of slaves. The war’s global dimensions have similarly been discussed, dating back at this point to Samuel Flagg Bemis’ The Diplomacy of the American Revolution.

Matthew Lockwood’s To Begin The World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (Yale University Press, 2019) pushes this analysis farther, looking at the global consequences of the American Revolution. Lockwood shows that the war, whatever its debatable effects for the residents of the thirteen colonies, unleashed a whole host of catastrophes for people elsewhere. Those living under British rule found their relationship with their government dramatically revised. British distraction allowed some European powers to undertake conquests of their own, while the United Kingdom in turn sought new commercial opportunities. Meanwhile, the effects of the war spilled into India and South America, setting off a new wave of global unrest.


Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.