New Yorkers often think of the Revolutionary War as having taken place in some far-off pastoral land, nearish Virginia and somehow also adjacent to Boston, watched over by hazy apparitions of Washington and Adams. But in an idiosyncratic new book tracing the War of Independence and its long afterlife through our own urban backyard, New York contributor Robert Sullivan shows that many of the war’s major events unfolded in places that appear on your average local-news Tri-State Doppler map—from the battles of Long Island (which started in Brooklyn, traveled through then-hilly Manhattan, and gave General Washington his just-keep-retreating strategy), Trenton, and turning-point Saratoga to the camp at Valley Forge and the crossing of the Delaware. Here, in a kind of gonzo traffic-helicopter tour of the nation’s first capital (remember?), Sullivan highlights a few of the forgotten Revolutionary-era landmarks hiding below our feet—and some of the weirder ways we’ve chosen to honor the war, as New Yorkers, over the past couple of centuries.
My American Revolution
Robert Sullivan. FSG, $26.