Press, Awards, and Honors for The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind


Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

"A great contribution to the literature both on Jefferson and on the University of Virginia. O’Shaughnessy challenges recent scholarship on Jefferson and the history of the university’s founding and explicates Jefferson’s thinking and plans for the university, the commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation."

Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

"As a living monument to the efficacy of reason and to the pursuit of justice in a fallen world, Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia is an essential American institution. In this landmark and illuminating work, Andrew O'Shaughnessy is a wonderful guide into the world of Jefferson's thoughts and deeds on the question of education--an undertaking the author of the Declaration of Independence knew to be vital for the creation and the preservation of democracy itself."

Miles Young, Warden, New College, Oxford, author of Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age

It falls to very few individuals personally to conceive and craft a leading university from scratch, from lofty ideals down to the last brick and book. The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind: Thomas Jefferson’s Idea of a University vividly describes Thomas Jefferson’s obsessional project for a University of Virginia, and also provides a fresh understanding of the American Enlightenment, its soaring strengths and its ugly flaws.  Jefferson himself emerges not just as a benign, twinkling-eyed patriarch, but also as a ruthless and effective political operator.  Linking the man, the educational content, the state, the nation and the University in a way never before done, O’Shaughnessy has given us an essential text for understanding post-revolutionary America.

Edward L. Ayers (University of Virginia, 1980-2007)

“This eloquent book helps us understand how such a university came to be, to change, and to endure.  Andrew O’Shaughnessy’s eloquent study offers the deeply researched exploration the University needs and deserves, positioning the University in the context of American higher education, allowing us to see how emblematic and influential the institution has been since its inception, revealing the University of Virginia to be as complex and compelling as the man whose vision it embodies.”

Barbara Oberg, General Editor, EmeritusThe Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton University)

"This well-researched and skillfully crafted history explores the origins of Jefferson's ideals for the university and gives us a fresh and important way of understanding them. Jefferson, a visionary man of the Enlightenment and lover of books, created the library and chose the curriculum for his university. Jefferson the architect designed the physical foundations for his Academical Village. Both were crucial to the fulfillment of his lifelong commitment to an illimitable freedom of the human mind."

Press, Awards, and Honors for The Men Who Lost America


Douglas Bradburn, Founding Director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

The Washington Prize jury praised the book as “ground-breaking” and “a major contribution to the history of the American Revolution.” “The book is a brilliant performance,” said Douglas Bradburn, founding director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. “While other scholars have emphasized America’s first foes as bumbling fools, braggarts, and incompetents, O’Shaughnessy shows that America’s leaders--especially George Washington--faced an array of talented, dedicated, and resourceful leaders who would lose America, but set the stage for British imperial dominance in the nineteenth century. A refreshing, exhaustively researched study which should reinvigorate the historical literature on the collapse of the British Empire in North America.” 

James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute

“This year’s award-winning book, is not just good history,” remarked James G. Basker, the President of Gilder Lehrman Institute. “It is a set of good stories about a subject we thought we had exhausted. History buffs, students, and general readers alike will find something new and intensely interesting in this book. O'Shaughnessy is to be congratulated for this wonderful new take on the American War for Independence."

Adam Goodheart, Director of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

“Countless popular books and Hollywood films have portrayed the Redcoats and their leaders as blundering nincompoops at best, sneering sadists at worst,” said Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the Washington Prize. O’Shaughnessy’s work ought to kill these stereotypes once and for all — and, in the process, give Americans a richer and more nuanced understanding of our nation’s origins.”

Jon Meacham

“Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy has written a remarkable book about an important but curiously underappreciated subject: the British side of the American Revolution. With meticulous scholarship and an eloquent writing style, O'Shaughnessy gives us a fresh and compelling view of a critical aspect of the struggle that changed the world. This is a great book.” —Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

Richard Johnson, University of Washington

“Much of [the book’s] value lies in the sheer volume of engaging material it brings together and in the originality of its organization and approach to a much studied question, namely why Britain lost the War of the American Revolution. . . . A treasure‑trove of information on the British operation of the ar.”—Richard Johnson, University of Washington

Alan Taylor

“Deeply researched, carefully argued, and clearly written, The Men Who Lost America cuts through the thick crust of romantic myths to cast the American Revolution in a refreshing new light. Blessed with an impartial, open mind, Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy reveals the talents as well as the human foibles of a rich cast of intriguing characters including America's last king. In the end, O’Shaughnessy gives the American revolutionaries exactly what their story has so long needed: worthy adversaries who fought hard and well.” —Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies

Pauline Maier, author of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

“Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Men Who Lost America is a great achievement. It will provide any interested reader with a delightfully user‑friendly way of understanding how and why the British lost the revolutionary war.”—Pauline Maier, author of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787‑1788

Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder

“Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy brings the human experience of the Revolutionary era to life in these graceful sketches of ten British political and military leaders. To see the period from the perspective of the able, earnest men who struggled to hold the British Empire together is to understand the origins of the United States in ways that Americans have seldom tried to imagine them. It’s about time we did, and there’s no better place to start than with this book.”—Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder

Maya Jasanoff, Professor of History, Harvard University

"In all the histories of the British Empire and American independence there is no book quite like this. With crisp, sensitive analysis, and in compelling detail, Andrew O'Shaughnessy explains how the British--from King George III to the men who fought for him--handled the greatest imperial crisis of their time. The Men Who Lost America changes our view of one of the most critical events in modern world history. A must-read for military history and biography lovers alike."—Maya Jasanoff, Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

Andrew Roberts, author of Eminent Churchillians

"In a really splendid work of revisionist history, Andrew O’Shaughnessy turns everything you ever thought you knew about why the British lost the Revolutionary War on its head. With meticulous research, close arguing and a fine written style, he has singlehandedly rescued the reputation of British statesmen, administrators, generals and their sovereign, while simultaneously explaining why George III really lost the colonies."—Andrew Roberts, author of Eminent Churchillians

T.H. Breen, author of American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People

"In this wonderfully balanced account O'Shaughnessy restores the reputation of the British officers sent to America to defeat a revolution. Often portrayed as incompetent losers, he shows that in fact these men fought courageously in what turned out to be an impossible mission. This is a sobering story for those who still exaggerate the ease with which a professional army can crush a distant insurgency."—T.H. Breen, author of American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People

Stephen Conway, Professor of History, University College London

"Anyone interested in the American Revolution and its war should read Andrew O’Shaughnessy’s new book. In a series of skillfully crafted biographical studies, he paints a revealing picture of the British politicians, generals, and admirals who lost America, but held on to much of the rest of their world-wide empire, despite their having, from 1778, to fight against first France, then Spain, and finally the Dutch as well as the American rebels."—Stephen Conway, Professor of History, UCL, and author of The British Isles and the War of Independence

Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

“Andrew O'Shaughnessy is a genuinely British-American scholar, and he brings just the right intelligence to solve a problem that American scholars have never taken that seriously, and British scholars have generally avoided. What did the British really think they were doing, when they put negotiations aside and tried to preserve their North American empire by force? O'Shaughnessy answers this question with a set of deft portraits of the leaders who made British policy. The result is a deeply sympathetic, perhaps almost tragic portrait of a group of leaders who struggled to keep the empire whole, but whose decisions were repeatedly undermined by conditions and misunderstandings they never mastered. This is the book that serious historians have long lacked, and its publication is a major contribution to our understanding of the American Revolution."— Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

Sir Michael Howard OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA, Emeritus Regius Professor of History, Oxford University

"Enormously enjoyable."—Sir Michael Howard OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA, Emeritus Regius Professor of History, Oxford University, and author of Captain Professor: A Life in War and Peace

Mark Urban, broadcaster, diplomatic editor of BBC 2's "Newsnight" and author of Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America

“Andrew O'Shaughnessy's pen portraits of the leaders in Britain's war for America are the historical equivalent of Reynolds or Gainsborough's work. Deeply researched and carefully executed, they give new insight into the pre-eminent figures of the age."—Mark Urban, broadcaster, diplomatic editor of BBC 2 "Newsnight" and author of Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America

Julie Flavell, author of When London Was Capital of America

“What was it like to be one of the ten Britons posterity has blamed for losing America? Andrew O'Shaughnessy brings to life the famous men who fronted the British war effort during the American War of Independence in this page-turning account of the worst defeat in the history of the British empire. The stories of their heroism and commitment, both on the battlefield and off, told in separate but interlinking chapters, gets past the stereotype of an imperial government intent on suppressing its colonies and offers instead a long-overdue mature account of a war Britain almost won."—Julie Flavell, author of When London Was Capital of America

Jeremy Black, author of Britain in the Eighteenth Century

"A highly-effective account of the role of leadership at a key moment in world history."—Jeremy Black, author of Britain in the Eighteenth Century

David Armitage, Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Harvard University

The British politicians and commanders who led the American War are often painted as blimps, bunglers or barbarians. Andrew O'Shaughnessy's richly detailed, deeply researched book brings them back to life as eminently capable men fighting an ultimately unwinnable conflict. His sympathetic pen-portraits not only give these great Britons their due--they make the colonists' achievement in defeating them all the more impressive."—David Armitage, Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Harvard University

Harry T. Dickinson, University of Edinburgh

The Men who Lost America - George III and the leading politicians, generals and admirals who served him - have had a very bad press in much of the historiography on the American War of Independence. Because the war was lost, their failings have been highlighted to the exclusion of their undoubted merits. At last, Andrew O'Shaughnessy has done justice to their abilities and efforts, while not neglecting their weaknesses and mistakes. We cannot appreciate the huge effort Britain made to win the war nor the immense sacrifices made by the American colonists if we do nothing but denigrate the abilities of these men who tried so hard to keep America within the British Empire."—Harry T. Dickinson, University of Edinburgh

Revolving Bookstand: Peter Onuf Reviews The Men Who Lost America

The Telegraph


The Objective Standard

The Online Wall Street Journal

The Jack Miller Center

Five Best: Books on the American Revolution, Selected by John Ferling for The Wall Street Journal