Book Review of “An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America”

April 23rd, 2020 On Our Shelves

Reviewed by David Price, Washington Crossing Historic Park Historical Interpreter


This was the inevitable outcome of Great Britain’s North American policy in the early 1770s, as Nick Bunker laments in his superbly written and penetrating analysis of the road to revolution that focuses on the three-year period immediately preceding Lexington and Concord.

It was a tragedy that took the form of an eight-year-long military conflict in which, as the author observes, “on the British side at least twenty thousand soldiers and sailors lost their lives in America, the West Indies, or at sea, in battle or dying in their own filth from wounds or disease” while fighting “to save an empire whose time had passed.”

Anyone with a serious interest in the Revolution will want to read Bunker’s illuminating study of the economic, political, and social circumstances that led to Britain’s futile and bloody war to preserve what he asserts was a shell of an empire in America.

This thorough and impartial account of the chain of causality behind the struggle for American independence—written largely from a British perspective—informs, enlightens, and entertains. It also leaves one hoping for a sequel to this masterpiece.