“Delineating the political culture of corruption and bribery that pervaded London and disgusted Americans like Benjamin Franklin, Cook convincingly concludes that the war was lost as much in London as on the colonial battlefields. Illuminating new perspective on an old topic” Kirkus Reviews
The Long Fuse
How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785
Atlantic Monthly Press
978-0-87113-661-9 • $16.95 • Paperback • Oct. 1996
History (Revolutionary War)
“We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the time and the manner of yielding what it is impossible to keep,” declared Queen Elizabeth II at the American Independence Bicentennial in Philadelphia on July 6, 1976.
In The Long Fuse, Don Cook investigates the American Revolution from the British side, throwing new light on this colorful age and its players. He draws from a multitude of primary sources, including personal correspondence and political memoranda, to show how Britain, at the height of her power but suffering from internal political strife, made one mistake after another, culminating in the loss of her prized colonies.
In opposition to King George’s American policies were such towering figures as William Pitt, Edmund Burke, and Charles James Fox; their speeches in the House of Commons are some of the best oratory in the English language. But despite their eloquence and forcefulness, they did not have the votes to prevail. In the end, the Americans rebelled as much against an English political state of mind as against the British Army.
Cook takes us through the war years: King George’s decision that “blows must decide” the colonies’ future; Lord North’s futile effort to negotiate peace after the British defeat at Saratoga, which only hastened the American alliance with France; the secret letter from Washington to Lafayette that the British intercepted, perhaps altering the outcome of the Battle of Yorktown; and the peace negotiations masterminded by Franklin and John Jay.