Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth

576 pages, 13 maps, c. 40 illustrations (Crown Publishers, 2017)

Hardcover – Paperback – eBook – Audiobook (unabridged)


The American Revolution is often pictured as the orderly, restrained rebellion of brave patriots who defended their noble ideals in a strangely bloodless war against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the Founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent American civil war and a civil war in the British Empire.

In SCARS OF INDEPENDENCE, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately; and Washington’s army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois. In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock’s new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint towards fellow subjects, while the Patriots ingeniously documented war crimes in an effort to unify the fledgling nation.

For two centuries we have whitewashed this history of the Revolution. SCARS OF INDEPENDENCE forces a more honest appraisal of the inherent tensions between moral purpose and violent tendencies in America’s past. Learn more…

Scars of Independence by Holger Hoock

Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750–1850

544 pages; 16 pages color plate section; 47 b&w illustrations. (Profile Books, 2010)

Between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries, Britain evolved from a substantial international power yet relative artistic backwater into a global superpower and a leading cultural force in Europe. In this original and wide-ranging book, Holger Hoock illuminates the manifold ways in which the culture of power and the power of culture were interwoven this period of dramatic change. Britons invested artistic and imaginative effort to come to terms with the loss of their thirteen American colonies; to sustain the generation-long fight against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France; and to assert and legitimate their growing empire in India. Deeply researched and presented in an accessible and lively prose style, EMPIRES OF THE IMAGINATION takes the reader on a grand tour of imperial and cultural activities across the British world. Learn more…

Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World by Holger Hoock

The King’s Artists: The Royal Academy of Arts and the Politics of British Culture, 1760–1840

384 pages, c. 50 illustrations. (Oxford University Press, 2003; paperback 2005)

This is the story of the forging of a national cultural institution in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain. The Royal Academy of Arts was the dominant art school and exhibition society in London and a model for art societies across the British Isles and North America. THE KING’S ARTISTS is the new standard account of its early years, re-evaluating the Academy’s significance in national cultural life and its profile in an international context. By demonstrating how the Academy shaped the notions of an English and British school of art and influenced the emergence of the British cultural state, Hoock illuminates the politics of national culture and the character of British public life in an age of war, revolution, and reform. Deeply researched and presented in a clear narrative style, THE KING’S ARTISTS also portrays power struggles and artistic rivalries unfolding during the Academy’s summer exhibitions and over sumptuous dinners, thus bringing the beginnings of modern Britain’s oldest surviving art institution to life. Learn more…

The King's Artists by Holger Hoock

History, Commemoration and National Preoccupation: Trafalgar 1805–2005

(Oxford University Press, 2007)

This volume explores the ways in which the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson’s death have been commemorated over the past two centuries. It includes the extraordinary celebrations of 2005, which saw hundreds of official, commercial, and popular events celebrating and commemorating the bicentenary of Trafalgar. Leading historians of Britain and France reflect critically on the complex notions of remembrance, celebration, honoring, and commemoration. Taking historical snapshots of the commemoration of Nelson at his death, in 1905, and in contemporary Britain, the contributors ask who drives the commemoration of historical anniversaries and to what ends? Which Nelson, or Nelsons, have had a role in national memory over the past two centuries? And who identifies with Nelson today? The essays consider how memoirs, history writing, visual media, museums, and film shape memory. This innovative and beautifully presented work will be of interest to those with general interests in naval, maritime, cultural and public history. Learn more…

Trafalgar by Holger Hoock