H.W. Brands

Cindy Seip

Historian and author H.W. Brands has written more than a dozen books, including the New York Times bestseller The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War, and two of his biographies were Pulitzer Prize finalists. In Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution (Doubleday) Brands reminds us that before America could win its revolution against Britain, patriots had to win a bitter civil war against family, friends, and neighbors. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were the unlikeliest of rebels. The former stood at the apex of Virginia society, while Franklin rose from humble origins to world fame. John Adams might have seemed a candidate for rebellion, but he revered the law. Yet all three men rebelled against the empire that fostered their success. Others in the same circle chose differently. Franklin’s son, William, remained loyal to the British. So did Thomas Hutchinson, a royal governor, and friend of the Franklins. They soon were denounced as traitors – for not betraying the country where they grew up. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham noted that “In this splendid new book, H.W. Brands tells the story of the American Revolution as it really unfolded – as a civil war between colonial patriots and those loyal to the British Crown and Parliament. Division … is as American as unity.”