This is a popular book in our little corner of the web, and I took some time earlier this summer to get through it. Foseti wrote about it back in 2008.
You can pick it up for less than a buck in eBook at Amazon or for free from Archive.org.
What’s remarkable about it is that it will probably contradict a fair amount of what you already think that you know about the American revolution, while also bringing to your attention some of the context of English politics during the revolution which you probably would be unaware of unless you happen to be a specialist in this period. In particular, the exact counts of relative force levels between the colonists and the British surprised me. Fisher strongly alludes to the conclusion that the Americans couldn’t have won the war had General Howe actually prosecuted it to the fullest.
Fisher also provides some of the opposing perspective relative to the typical American tale about unfair taxation and duties providing the impetus for the revolution. What was a more significant factor was that the colonists had been flouting British regulation of trade for decades already. What the colonists revolted against was the actual enforcement of those laws. The colonists were eager to have the military protection from the British empire, but far less eager to comply with their obligations to finance it. This coincided with an explosion in popularity of classical liberal thought, most importantly influenced by the popularization of Locke.
American histories tend not to emphasize this. If you knew some details about all the British lollygagging in New York for much of the war, you might have gotten the sense that something was screwy, but seeing the relative force numbers in plain language makes it obvious that the American colonials were, more or less, allowed to win. Another major area of coverage is the social-justice-warrior behavior of the American patriot party. Essentially, the patriots were able to mobilize a highly ideological minority to suppress loyalist opinion and keep moderates on the sidelines:
But the mobs went on with their work in spite of [John] Adams’ protest. All through the Revolution the loyalists were roughly handled, banished, and their property confiscated. Even those who were neutral and living quietly were often ordered out of the country by county committees, because it was found that a prominent family which remained neutral deterred by their silent influence many who otherwise would have joined the rebel cause. Few loyalists dared write about politics in private letters, because all such letters were opened by the patriots. In many of them which have been preserved we find the statement that the writers would like to speak of public affairs but dare not. A mere chance of most innocent expression might bring on severe punishment or mob violence.
These mob techniques are not so different from today’s technologically-enabled mobs, except perhaps the old kind were more eager to use tar and feathers.
This is not, then, a new factor in American life, but instead is a founding tendency which we see periodically re-emerging throughout our history. It also meant the ruination of countless loyalists, who either lived on in poverty or otherwise had to flee back to the home country:
The disastrous effects of the rise of the lower orders of the people into power appeared everywhere, leaving its varied and peculiar characteristics in each community, but New England suffered least of all. In Virginia its work was destructive and complete, for all that made Virginia great, and produced her remarkable men, was her aristocracy of tobacco planters. This aristocracy forced on the Revolution with heroic enthusiasm against the will of the lower classes, little dreaming that they were forcing it on to their own destruction. But in 1780 the result was already so obvious that Chastellux, the French traveler, saw it with the utmost clearness, and in his book he prophesies Virginia’s gradual sinking into the insignificance which we have seen in our time.
When the British began to prosecute the war in earnest after the replacement of Howe in 1778 by General Clinton, it was essentially too late to prevent the entry of the French into the war and the eventual conclusion.
It’s short book, clearly-written, and well worth your time if you’re interested in learning a more balanced view of the American founding.