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Beyond the Book

344 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 illus., notes, index

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

ISBN  978-0-8078-5866-0
Published: August 2007

The King's Three Faces

The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776

By Brendan McConville

Reinterpreting the first century of American history, Brendan McConville argues that colonial society developed a political culture marked by strong attachment to Great Britain's monarchs. This intense allegiance continued almost until the moment of independence, an event defined by an emotional break with the king. By reading American history forward from the seventeenth century rather than backward from the Revolution, McConville shows that political conflicts long assumed to foreshadow the events of 1776 were in fact fought out by factions who invoked competing visions of the king and appropriated royal rites rather than used abstract republican rights or pro-democratic proclamations. The American Revolution, McConville contends, emerged out of the fissure caused by the unstable mix of affective attachments to the king and a weak imperial government. Sure to provoke debate, The King's Three Faces offers a powerful counterthesis to dominant American historiography.

About the Author

Brendan McConville is professor of history at Boston University and author of These Daring Disturbers of the Public Peace: The Struggle for Property and Power in Early New Jersey.


"Expands commonplace observations about the political tactics of resistance and revolution into a revisionist view of eighteenth-century American development. . . . An interesting book."
--International History Review

"Salient and compelling. . . . An important contribution to the field of colonial American history."
--New England Quarterly

"Inspires a string of adjectives: provocative, original, clever, iconoclastic, and querulous."
--American Historical Review

"A worthwhile book for anyone with a solid interest in the early US. . . . Highly recommended."

"This innovative and thought-provoking book should be required reading for all those with an interest in the British Atlantic world. It will surely be central to any future discussions of early American politics, religion, popular culture, and the coming of the Revolution."
--Pennsylvania Magazine of History

"Creative and erudite. . . . Its new perspectives makes it all the more stimulating for historians of early America and beyond."
--William and Mary Quarterly

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