"With Liberty Is Sweet, Woody Holton once again troubles the mythical narratives of our founding and the hagiography of our 'founders' to reveal the dynamic, complicated and multiracial pressures that led to the creation of the United States. This book rightly decenters the almost exclusively white revolutionary narratives that we've all been taught and instead makes visible the influence and agency of Black and Indigenous people as well as white women, who together played such a critical, if erased, role in creating this multiracial nation. This book unsettles the reader in the best possible way, and shows once again how the simplistic histories of our founding fail to explain the divided country in which we all live."
– Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project”
"[Holton's] marvellously creative new book offers a welcome interpretation of the American Revolution for our time. . . . Provocative and timely."
– T.H. Breen, The Times Literary Supplement
“Liberty is Sweet is a deeply researched and bracing retelling of the origins of the American Revolution. Holton details the central role that European hunger for Indian land— and the differing views on Indian policy between British officials and Anglo-American colonists——played in the crises that led to revolution. This persuasive and necessary account will challenge all who think they know exactly why the 13 colonies opted to leave Great Britain.”
– Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, author of On Juneteenth
"Holton depicts the revolution as simultaneously a struggle for independence and a series of overlapping conflicts between and within groups of Americans. . . . Jefferson, Washington, and other iconic founders are here, but so too are the many 'obscure Americans' who were also consequential historical actors. By foregrounding their experience, Holton arrives at a complex, bittersweet calculus of how independence was achieved and who gained or lost as a result."
– Eric Foner, The Nation
"Even readers who think they know all about the Revolution will find here a much broader, provocative narrative and new perspectives."
– Booklist (starred review)
"In his meticulously researched, beautifully calibrated Liberty Is Sweet, historian Woody Holton adds necessary nuance, building on . . . stories previously marginalized (or invisible) in our narrative of the nation's birth while illuminating a collective yearning to form a more perfect union. . . . Holton's painstaking yet vivid military coverage is one of the book's crowning achievements."
– Hamilton Cain, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"[Holton] has a gift for pacing and narrative detail . . . . One of [his] aims is not simply to offer an 'inclusive' history—one where ordinary people are just added to a familiar frame—but to show us how including a wider swath of society can help us rethink the picture itself."
– Eric Herschthal, The New Republic
"A spirited account of the Revolution that brings everybody and everything into the story."
– Gordon S. Wood, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Radicalism of the American Revolution
"A thoroughgoing work of scholarship that debunks many myths about the American Revolution by incorporating the full story involving Native Americans, African Americans, and women as participants. . . . Immensely readable. . . . A rich, multifaceted work showing how the U.S. has always been a multiracial nation."
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Presents fresh appraisals of important developments based on lives and events long condemned to obscurity."
– Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books
"Skillfully probing the Revolution’s ambiguities and inconsistencies, this richly detailed, multidimensional history casts America’s founding in a revealing new light."
– Publishers Weekly
"In this provocative and wide-ranging book, Woody Holton astutely probes the causes, course, and consequences of our complex revolution. While carefully covering the usual leaders of the new nation, Liberty is Sweet also deftly explores the lives of common men and women, of diverse races, who displayed uncommon courage in pursuing their clashing visions of equality and freedom."
– Pulitzer Prize-winner Alan Taylor, author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804
"Holton’s exhaustive, masterfully written chronicle demonstrates that the Revolution was much more than a movement instigated by the political ideologies of a handful of elite, revered (although flawed) Founding Fathers against the British parliament and king. This book will be pivotal for scholars and requested by American history enthusiasts."
– Library Journal (starred review)