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Accidental Revolutionaries

Publication Date: 
August 13, 2010
Palo Alto Online
Gennady Sheyner

Professor Jack Rakove's book, Revolutionaries: The History of the Invention of America, is reviewed by Gennady Sheyner of Palo Alto Online:

In 1978 [sic], a young and battle-hungry soldier named John Laurens embarked on a truly revolutionary experiment: turning slaves into soldiers.

Laurens, whose father Henry was a leading slave trader and certified member of the South Carolina elite, undertook what he called his "black project" for two reasons. To aid George Washington's flagging war effort against the British and to give colonial slaves a chance to demonstrate their skills and earn their freedom.


The Laurens' brief but tempestuous life is one of many highlights of "Revolutionaries," the latest offering from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jack Rakove. (Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and professor of political science at Stanford University.)