Conrad Edick Wright draws on extensive research on the classes that graduated from Harvard immediately before the start of the war to follow their members as they passed through life's common and predictable events from birth and childhood through youth to maturity, careers, marriage, the increasing civic and family responsibilities of midlife, old age, and death. He is also sensitive to his subjects' thoughts and feelings. Unusually articulate and frequently reflective, the men of the Harvard College classes of 1771 through 1774 often revealed their ambitions and concerns through their letters and diaries.
Revolutionary Generation provides the most sustained application of life course and life cycle analysis to be found in any study of late-eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century America. At the same time, it shows on a personal level through the lives of its subjects many of the most important consequences of the War for Independence.
"In this rich, detailed, and compelling new book, Conrad Edick Wright breathes life into a group of men educated at Harvard and tempered by the American Revolution. While he tells his tale like a novelist embracing a cast of fascinating characters, he also provides us with a new understanding of the college, of its place in eighteenth century society, and of the society itself, from which emerged the men who made America. A book for the serious historian and the general reader, too."—William Martin, author of Citizen Washington and Harvard Yard
"I can think of no volume in early American studies that moves so fluently and so knowledgeably between the actions of individuals and the broader experiences of a group. . . . This book is a pleasure to read."—Steven C. Bullock, author of Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry
and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730–1840
"A beautifully written, historically significant book. . . . It contains wonderful stories of real human beings who succeeded and suffered, whose tales bring history alive. . . . There is no other book that so graphically traces the transformation of the Revolution on the lives of real people. . . . Revolutionary Generation is a masterful addition to the literature."—William Pencak, author of Riot and Revelry in Early America
"Wright has met the challenge by combining life-cycle and life-course approaches to tell the story of the cohort of young men who composed Harvard's entering classes of 1771-1774, those who experienced eastern Massachusetts' involvement in the American Revolution."—American Historical Review
"The book's thesis is clearly and eloquently presented."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society