Liberty's Exiles: How the Loss of America Made the British Empire

Author(s): Maya Jasanoff Staff

Empire Wars

'More than just a work of first-class scholarship, Liberty's Exile's is a deeply moving masterpiece that fulfil's the historian's most challenging ambition: to revivify past experience.' Niall Fergusson

On a November day in 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing British rule in the United States to an end. It was the greatest British imperial defeat in generations. None felt the loss more immediately than the hundreds of thousands of Americans who had remained loyal to Britain. What would happen to them in the new United States? Would they and their families be safe? Facing grave doubts, some sixty thousand loyalists decided to leave their homes and become refugees, to rebuild their shattered lives elsewhere in the British Empire. They sailed for Britain, for Canada, for Jamaica and the Bahamas; some ventured as far as Sierra Leone and India. Wherever they went, the voyage out of America was a fresh beginning and it carried them into a dynamic if uncertain new world.

'Liberty's Exiles' tells, for the first time, the story of this extraordinary global diaspora - the most wide-ranging refugee crisis Britain had ever faced. Through painstaking archival research and vivid story-telling, award-winning historian Maya Jasanoff recreates the astonishing journeys of ordinary individuals whose lives were overturned by extraordinary events. She tells of loyalists like Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who spent nearly thirty years as a migrant, questing for a home in Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. David George, a black preacher born into slavery, found freedom and faith in the British Empire, and eventually led his followers to seek a new Jerusalem in Sierra Leone. Mohawk Indian leader Joseph Brant resettled his people under British protection in Ontario; while adventurer William Augustus Bowles tried to shape a loyal Cree Indian state in Florida. For all these figures and more it was the British Empire -not the United States - that held out the promise of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

An exhilirating, personality-filled book, 'Liberty's Exiles' is history at its finest.


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"Liberty's Exiles is book which in scope and originality, global reach and research, intellectual curiosity and sheer provocative panache -- upturning in its wake whole apple-carts of unchallenged assumptions --can sustain comparison with Linda Colley or the young Simon Schama. The truth is that Maya Jasanoff is not just a very good writer, an indefatigable researcher and a fine historian, she is also a bit of a genius." William Dalrymple "I can think of few books published in the past thirty years that shed more brilliant and revelatory light on the events of the revolutionary era than Liberty's Exiles. It is more than just a work of first-class scholarship! It is a deeply moving masterpiece that fulfils the historian's most challenging ambition: to revivify past experience. -- Niall Ferguson, author of Empire "Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles places the loyalist experience and the aftermath of the American Revolution in an entirely new light. Alongside the Spirit of 1776, Jasanoff gives us the Spirit of 1783, dedicated to remaking the mighty British Empire, and then offers a stunning reinterpretation of the loyalists' complicated role in that remaking. Her meticulously researched and superbly written account is historical revision at its finest, and it affirms her place as one of the very finest historians of the rising generation." Sean Wilentz Praise for The Edge of Empire: 'This is a very clever and wonderfully researched and written book which illumines French as well as British imperial experience, artifacts and culture, and which looks at all the actors involved in a vivid and nuanced fashion. An original new voice' Linda Colley 'One of the most exciting historians to emerge in years. Her crackling prose and outstanding research have resulted in a ground-breaking book. A must-read.' Amanda Foreman 'Maya Jasanoff!triumphs in this memorable debut. This is partly because, mirroring her subject, she has adopted a vivacious methodology that defies category. Jasanoff's investigation of the world that made her evokes the midday sun, the unforgettable stench and blare of the East, but populates it with characters to whom the reader can relate, as strange as fiction, but actually found in real life.' Robert McCrum, Observer 'Brilliant!a riveting book that gives an entirely fresh dimension to our understanding of the expansion of empire!A historical tour de force, with wonderfully original material moulded into a convincing new narrative. Britain's empire will never look quite the same again.' Richard Gott, Guardia '[A] remarkable first book!the drama of Jasanoff's stories, and her infectious enthusiasm, make this a consuming read.' Sunday Times

Maya Jasanoff was born in 1974. She graduated from Harvard before earning her Masters degree at Cambridge University. Her PhD was completed in Yale. She is now Professor of British History at the University of Virginia. She is widely known to many British historians (William Dalrymple, Linda Colley) for her pioneering work on the study of Empire.

General Fields

  • : 9780007180080
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • : Harper Element
  • : 0.869
  • : February 2011
  • : 240mm X 159mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : April 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Maya Jasanoff Staff
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 973.3140922
  • : 416
  • : maps.