Our First Revolution

Our First Revolution

The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers

By Michael Barone

Crown, Hardcover, 9781400097920, 352pp.

Publication Date: May 8, 2007


The ideals of freedom and individual rights that inspired America’s Founding Fathers did not spring from a vacuum. Along with many other defining principles of our national character, they can be traced directly back to one of the most pivotal events in British history—the late-seventeenth-century uprising known as the Glorious Revolution.

In a work of popular history that stands with recent favorites such as David McCullough’s 1776 and Joseph J. Ellis’s Founding Brothers, Michael Barone brings the story of this unlikely and largely bloodless revolt to American readers and reveals that, without the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution may never have happened.

Unfolding in 1688–1689, Britain’s Glorious Revolution resulted in the hallmarks of representative government, guaranteed liberties, the foundations of global capitalism, and a foreign policy of opposing aggressive foreign powers. But as Barone shows, there was nothing inevitable about the Glorious Revolution. It sprang from the character of the English people and depended on the talents, audacity, and good luck of two men: William of Orange (later William III of England), who launched history’s last successful cross-channel inva sion, and John Churchill, an ancestor of Winston, who commanded the forces of the deposed James II but crossed over to support William one fateful November night.

The story of the Glorious Revolution is a rich and riveting saga of palace intrigue, loyalty and shocking betrayal, and bold political and military strategizing. With narrative drive, a sure command of historical events, and unforgettable portraits of kings, queens, soldiers, parliamentarians, and a large cast of full-blooded characters, Barone takes an episode that has fallen into unjustified obscurity and restores it to the prominence it deserves. Especially now, as we face enemies who wish to rid the world of the lasting legacies of the Glorious Revolution—democracy, individual rights, and capitalism among them—it is vitally important that we understand the origins of these blessings.

About the Author

MICHAEL BARONE is a senior writer with U.S. News & World Report and a contributor to Fox News Channel. He is the principal coauthor of the biannual Almanac of American Politics and the author of Our Country, The New Americans, and Hard America, Soft America.

Praise For Our First Revolution

"Michael Barone's definition of a revolution is more conservative than mine, but it's exactly the irony - of a conservative revolution - that lends point and weight to his absorbing study of an event that changed much more than it set out to change. Without 1688 there would have been no 1776."
—Christopher Hitchens

“We all know Michael Barone as one of the nation’s most insightful observers of the American political scene. Now, turning his considerable talents to the Glorious Revolution, he has woven a rich, varied, and fascinating tale, a saga not simply of British liberties, but ultimately, one which would have great resonance for America’s Founders as well.”
—Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America

“Not content with being the most knowledgeable commentator on the nuts and bolts of American politics, Michael Barone now provides a splendid analysis of the intellectual pedigree of America’s political order. He demonstrates the remarkable extent to which our revolution was a reverberation of another one.”
—George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize—winning columnist

“Michael Barone is legendary as the author of The Almanac of American Politics, the Bible of the Beltway. With this sparkling new study he shows that he should be well known as an historian also. His compelling narrative reveals how the Glorious Revolution of 1688 shaped America’s own revolution less than a century later. Barone demonstrates that a political journalist supremely sensitive to the tides that govern electoral politics can teach professional historians a great deal.”
—Paul A. Rahe, Jay P. Walker Professor of American History at the University of Tulsa

"A well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking book."
Wall Street Journal

“Loved it. It’s so dramatic and theatrical.”
—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

“An important new book . . . Thanks to writers like David McCullough, Richard Brookhiser, David Hackett Fischer, and now Barone, we still have both an interest and a legitimate pride in who we are and where we come from.”
Chicago Sun-Times