review at The Journal of the American Revolution. As someone who works on the American Revolution, I would love to have this two-volume documentary collection, edited by James Barnes and Patience Barnes, in my library, but I can't afford the $250.00 price tag. (Maybe Kent State will send me a copy in exchange for a review on the blog!) Here is a taste of Hagist's review:
The material is arranged chronologically within sections focused on
the major phases of the war. The documents chosen span the range of
influence from diplomatic correspondence from the King and government
officials, to military correspondence from senior generals to junior
regimental officers. Through the words of participants, we can follow
the arc of the war, from institution of policies and reactions to
behavior of the American colonists, through initial optimism that the
rebellion could be quelled and confidence that it was localized and
fomented by a minority, to dismay at the tenacity of the rebels and the
unexpectedly low level of loyalist support. Particularly welcome is the
inclusion of material concerning the navy as well as the army, resulting
in a balanced look at the operational concerns of conducting a largely
coastal war on the opposite side of an ocean from the sources of policy,
strategy, finance and supply.
The editors made the expeditious but questionable choice of drawing
largely from published sources. This is a bit disappointing for those
who already have a substantial library of British primary source
material; for those who have already researched this perspective on the
war, the two substantial volumes of The American Revolution through British Eyes
might provide little new material. The arrangement of the material,
however, is liable to be easier to use than the books from which they
are compiled, making this new collection valuable even though not novel.
The documents presented are drawn heavily from the famous compilation Documents of the American Revolution, 1770-1783
by K. G. Davies, and some other widely-available published collections.
In at least one case, the editors chose to draw from another
compilation rather than the published complete manuscript – passages by
Captain John Peebles of the 42nd Regiment are drawn from The Spirit of Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants edited by Henry Steele Commager and. Richard B. Morris, rather than from the more comprehensive John Peebles American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadiery 1776-1782
edited by Ira D. Gruber. All are cited properly but introduce the
possibility of repeating errors made by previous editors. It also makes
it challenging for the reader wishing to verify the transcriptions or
other aspects of the original documents, requiring the previous
published source to be consulted in order to find the manuscript source.
This is better, though, than the practice of “leapfrogging”, that is,
consulting the published source but citing the manuscript source.