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Paul Revere

The man behind the ride

Created date

April 3rd, 2014
Paul Revere
Paul Revere

The name Paul Revere is synonymous with revolution. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty, took part in the Boston Tea Party, and set out on his now legendary ride to alert colonists of the approaching British forces.

Doubtless, most Americans are familiar with what Paul Revere did, but how much do we know about who he was?

In The Revolutionary Paul Revere (Thomas Nelson, 2010), Joel Miller offers readers a deeply human portrait of the otherwise mythic character, one that’s a far cry from the shadowy rider at the heart of Longfellow’s classic poem.

In many ways, Revere was the quintessential American tale, a self-made man who rose from the lower middle classes of Boston society in a world structured around a fixed caste system.

The making of the man

He apprenticed to his father, a French immigrant and silversmith, before making his own way. A natural hard charger, Revere toiled at and perfected his trade, endeared himself to his wealthy clients, and rose through Boston’s social ranks as a civic activist, a prominent Freemason, and by the 1760s, an ardent revolutionary.

Like many of his contemporary counterparts—men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, who incidentally were well above his station in life—Revere was more than a participant in America’s story; he helped shape it.

Miller skillfully shows us how. Indeed, this book is as much a biography of Revere’s time as it is of Revere himself, which makes this volume accessible to most any reader, no matter how extensive his knowledge of Revolutionary War history.

Throughout, Miller provides meticulous sketches of what it was like to live in Massachusetts as a British subject, how the relationship between colonists and the crown deteriorated, and descriptions of those formative moments when Massachusetts men evolved from British subjects to American citizens.

To understand these events is to understand Paul Revere, and Miller presents them with near flawless style. His blow-by-blow narratives of pivotal moments like the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party are visceral in detail and help convey the gravity of the historic episodes in which Revere was a key player.

More importantly, it introduces us to Paul Revere the silversmith, Paul Revere the revolutionary, and Paul Revere the man.