Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Paperback)
  • Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Paperback)
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Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Paperback)

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£21.99
Paperback 264 Pages / Published: 15/03/2018
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In Dangerous Guests, Ken Miller reveals how wartime pressures nurtured a budding patriotism in the ethnically diverse revolutionary community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During the War for Independence, American revolutionaries held more than thirteen thousand prisoners-both British regulars and their so-called Hessian auxiliaries-in makeshift detention camps far from the fighting. As the Americans' principal site for incarcerating enemy prisoners of war, Lancaster stood at the nexus of two vastly different revolutionary worlds: one national, the other intensely local. Captives came under the control of local officials loosely supervised by state and national authorities. Concentrating the prisoners in the heart of their communities brought the revolutionaries' enemies to their doorstep, with residents now facing a daily war at home.

Many prisoners openly defied their hosts, fleeing, plotting, and rebelling, often with the clandestine support of local loyalists. By early 1779, General George Washington, furious over the captives' ongoing attempts to subvert the American war effort, branded them "dangerous guests in the bowels of our Country." The challenge of creating an autonomous national identity in the newly emerging United States was nowhere more evident than in Lancaster, where the establishment of a detention camp served as a flashpoint for new conflict in a community already unsettled by stark ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences. Many Lancaster residents soon sympathized with the Hessians detained in their town while the loyalist population considered the British detainees to be the true patriots of the war. Miller demonstrates that in Lancaster, the notably local character of the war reinforced not only preoccupations with internal security but also novel commitments to cause and country.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9781501725883
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 411 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"As Miller notes at the outset,Dangerous Guests is a 'case study of revolutionary Lancaster' (p. 5). And as such, it is an important and intriguing book that broadens our understanding of the ways a local community was transformed by the arrival of large numbers of enemy captives during the War of American Independence."

* Journal of the Early Republic *

"Often overlooked in favor of the epic stories told by the likes of David Ramsay and Mercy Otis Warren, these local histories better represented the vantage point from which most early Americans experienced the conflict. When modern historians have paused to view the War for Independence from the same vantage point they have usually yielded important insights into the complicated process of mobilization, conflict, and revolution. Ken Miller's fine work on enemy captives in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, is no exception. Drawing on many of those early local histories along with a plethora of archival and printed sources, Miller paints a richly textured portrait of a community at war."

-- Michael A. McDonnell * Journal of American History *

"Miller skillfully reconstructs the contrasting American experiences with British and Hessian prisoners of war from a wide range of public sources, including records of the Continental Congress, Pennsylvania's revolutionary governments, Lancaster's Committee of Correspondence and Observation, and Peter Force's American Archives."

-- Robert A. Gross * William and Mary Quarterly *

"In Dangerous Guests, Ken Miller (George Washington College) has produced a clearly written little book that packs a big punch. This history of the experiences of British and German POWs and their captors in the American Revolution sheds much new light not only on the prisoners, but also the Continental government's policy towards them and colonial and revolutionary Pennsylvania more broadly."

-- Steven G. Gimber * Michigan War Studies Review *

"Ken Miller's case study of interaction between prisoners and their reluctant Lancaster hosts is set within a thoroughly researched social history of the community and of the changes outside events-from the French and Indian War through the Revolution-brought to Lancaster.... In marshaling his extensive research to make a coherent argument about the impact of prisoners on their host communities, Miller has added an important chapter to the Pennsylvania story."

-- Richard K. MacMaster * Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography *

"Ken Miller's very well-written and researched account focuses on one revolutionary American "community at war"-Lancaster, Pennsylvania-and its treatment of thousands of British and German prisoners of war between 1776 and 1783.... Miller's Dangerous Guests is one of the best recent studies on the treatment of prisoners of war during the American War of Independence. The book demonstrates that prisoners of war could be decisive agents of change in society."

-- Daniel Krebs * The Journal of Military History *

"Ken Miller makes and original and important contribution to our understanding of the American Revolution.... Dangerous Guests is an original, engaging work that stands as an important community study as well as an examination of the rebel treatment of prisoners of war during the War of Independence. It deserves a wide readership."

* Journal of Early American History *

"Dangerous Guests successfully navigates its way through a complex terrain of captors and captives, often fluid cultural identities, and the demands placed on both sides by the American Revolution.... Historians interested in the recent scholarly emphasis on the mid-Atlantic colonies in the colonial and revolutionary periods will find it a worthy addition to earlier titles on the same region. Military scholars will be intrigued by Miller's behind-the-scenes look at the logistical challenges posed by American victories during the Revolution. General readers will appreciate Miller's narrative style, while history teachers will find the book an endless source of stories to be used in classes addressing identity politics during the American Revolution."

-- Abigail Chandler * H-Net Reviews *

"Utilizing local archives, military and political records, and engaging with a growing historiography in frontier Pennsylvania and prisoners of war during the War for American Independence, Miller contributes to our understanding of the conflict in the American interior and in the everyday lives of the revolutionaries.... Dangerous Guests provides insight into the diverse communities in the interior of perhaps the most diverse state during the War for American Independence. It offers another lens through which to view the formation of an American identity, working through a topic that may appear more specialized but is garnering increased attention: prisoners of war."

-- Patrick Cecil, The University of Alabama * Pennsylvania History *

"Miller's book is a well-researched and beautifully written community study that highlights the often-ignored logistical challenges of the war as well as the roiling but permeable communities that toughed it out for seven long years."

* American Historical Review *

"There is no evidence of bias or agenda in the resulting story that includes an array of perspectives; the motives, faults and foibles of the various interacting individuals and organizations are given equal weight and merit. We see the complexities of a community composed of diverse groups, all trying to maintain their own identities while coexisting with each other; the onset of war and the sudden infusion of prisoners of war, themselves a diverse and multi-faceted community, put extraordinary pressures on this already challenged society. The way that Lancaster's community was redefined during this critical era is a fascinating story, exemplary of the American Revolution itself. Dangerous Guests is among the best treatments of this complex topic to come out in a long time, and deserves a place on the shelf of every serious scholar of America's transition from colonies to nation."

-- Don N. Hagist * Journal of the American Revolution *

"In short, the author makes the point that language and identity counted for most of the triumphs and disasters in this central POW depot during the revolution. The research sparkles with primary sources and the writing flows extremely well, with only a few repetitions here and there, making this book an outstanding contribution to both POW and revolutionary war studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."

* Choice *

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