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Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer

The movement led by Paul Revere is regarded as a mythical event in the history of America. Yet, it is one of the many “underrated” incidents in American history. The event which happened during the nights of April 17th and 18th in 1775 has been mostly ignored by scholars and only gets attention from patriotic writers and debunkers. For the very first time, David Hackett Fischer, one of the leading historians in the field of American history pays a truly deserving attention to Paul Revere’s efforts- what exactly happened during that night, why has it happened, and what actions succeeds after the movement.

Through this book, the truth regarding Paul Revere’s is revealed, quite noteworthy than the myths of tradition. To start the book, Fischer gives his readers a background of the two main characters: Paul Revere and British General Thomas Gage. To make his readers further understand the events and give a perspective on the circumstances during that time, Fischer also provides a background on the political situation which resulted to the event. Fischer uses a lot of photographs on his book and also maps.

Whenever the author introduces a certain character on the book, a corresponding picture is embedded on the following page. The same also goes regarding the military movements. Every time Fischer talks about a certain action done by the soldiers, a helpful map is provided on the next page so that imagining what really happened during the eve of Aril 18th 1775. Also, it can be concluded that all the descriptions and background of the different characters involved in the event is thoroughly researched by the author.

An example of this is Lord Hugh Percy – the oldest son of the Duke of Northumbria and a successor to one of the greatest riches ever in the western world. In the book, Fischer makes the readers know characters, like Lord Hugh Percy, on a personal level through providing their character attributes, some of their previous actions, and the way they react to certain actions. Fischer presents the story in a chronological order and provides a lot of background of every situation that he has stated on the book.

Also, at the beginning of every chapter, there is an appropriate quotation that provides the reader an insight of what will happen on each chapter. Using the second person point-of-view, the author seems to be just narrating what he “sees” about the story. It is like the author is alive during the nights of April 17th and 18th and is just telling the story based on how he “witnessed” it. Another fact is that the details on every incident regarding the book seem to be well researched because every aspect, from the personality level up to the societal level of a particular character, is well-detailed.

For example, on chapter two entitled “General Gage’s Dilemma”, Thomas Gage is described as a very powerful officer who’s a single stroke of pen “could start regiments marching from the Arctic to the Antipodes”. This description may seem to be an exaggeration but because of this portrayal, the readers are able to grasp the true character of General Gage. Another thing that makes this book more interesting is that the author narrates the story in an hour-by-hour interval.

But on the progression of the battle, a minute-by-minute account of the story, slowing things down so that the reader would truly understand what is happening during that time. Also, David Fischer provides not only one particular perspective on a particular incident but gives all possible perspectives from the characters involved in a particular event. Giving the sides of every party involved proves that the book is just balanced and is not purely based on “what happened to the Americans” but gives ample respect to the British army.

Also, the way Fischer narrates the “battle talks” is not so overwhelming that it makes the reader want for more. Even one who does not like things about wars would be interested in books like this. Through this book, the author has proven what the real role of Paul Revere for his country. It can be said that Revere has been mythologized but indeed, he is a true patriot. He played his role on the battle as a rider, removing Hancock and S. Adams out of harms way. Through David Fischer, Paul Revere’s importance on the America’s battle for independence is revealed.

Since the night of Paul Revere’s Ride is well-known to every American, there are an extraordinary amount of primary source materials that exist for this one day in the history of America. In spite of the large quantity of sources, David Hackett Fischer, with the help from his students, developed the story in an excellent fashion. Though the author based his “version” of Paul Revere’s Ride from other materials, there are comprehensive endnotes that can be found on the book for readers that would like to find out more details about the incident.

With the simplicity of the narration, the use of pictures and maps on almost every major character and battle, and the chronological account of the battles, Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer is a great read not only for those who are inclined to American history but to all Americans who would like to know the “real deal” on what is the significance of the events that happened during the night of April 18, 1775. Reference: Fischer, David H. (1994). Paul Revere’s Ride. Oxford University Press.

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