Published in 1971, Davis’ collective biography was written for Americans “growing up in a nation still stirred by radical ideas which had their birth two centuries ago.” Although the author’s motivation in writing this book may have been influenced by the turbulent 1960’s, his work is not dated. Well crafted, wisely and handsomely illustrated, and based on sound scholarship, it furnishes a fine overview of these revolutionaries’ accomplishments and of the human capacities evoked by the American Revolution. Useful as background preparation for term papers or for general reading, these engaging biographies may also inspire the student to explore other, lengthier biographies of these personalities. Teachers may also confidently use Davis as a supplement to their classroom discussions because, while drafting highly positive portraits of these figures, Davis has neither fictionalized nor made extravagant claims for his heroes. The young reader instead is left with a satisfyingly comprehensive description of their lives and achievements.
The American fascination with the revolutionary war has never diminished and is unlikely to do so. Appearing in timely fashion, during the decade of the bicentennial, Heroes of the American Revolution was quickly adopted by public and school libraries and remains a standard work. While there are several biographies of revolutionary leaders, few authors accomplish their task as efficiently or as admirably as Davis does.