America’s shockingly violent birth

He writes in the manner of current academics, who are forever “unmasking” this and that. He offers “an unvarnished portrait” of revolutionary violence in order to purge the “popular memory” of “romanticized notions” and end the “whitewashing and selective remembering and forgetting” and — herewith the inevitable academic trope — the “privileging” of patriots’ perspectives.

Hoock is, however, right to document the harrowing violence, often opportunistic and sadistic, that was “fundamental” to how both sides experienced “America’s founding moment.” The war caused “proportionately more” deaths — from battle, captivity and disease — than any war other than that of 1861-1865. The perhaps 37,000 deaths were about five times more per capita than America lost in World War II. Sixty thousand loyalists became refugees. “The dislocated proportion of the American population exceeded that of the French in their revolution,” Alan Taylor tells us in “American Revolutions: A Continental History.” The economic decline “lasted for 15 years in a crisis unmatched until the Great Depression.”