From bestselling historian H. W. Brands comes a dramatic narrative of the American Revolution that shows it to have been not just a fight against the British, but also a violent battle among neighbors forced to choose sides–Loyalist or Patriot.What causes people to forsake their country and take up arms against it? In his powerful new history of the American Revolution, this is the question H.W. Brands answers. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were the unlikeliest of rebels, with Washington standing at the apex of Virginia society and Franklin more successful still, having risen from humble origins to world fame. John Adams, known for his cantankerous temperament, might have seemed a more obvious candidate for rebellion, but even so, he revered the law. Yet all three men became rebels against the British empire that fostered their success. Others in the same circle of family and friends, like Franklin’s son William or his friend royal governor Thomas Hutchinson, chose differently, and soon they heard themselves denounced as traitors–for not betraying the country where they grew up. Native Americans and enslaved people were also forced to choose sides as civil war broke out around them. After the revolution, the Patriots were cast as heroes and founding fathers while the Loyalists were relegated to bit parts best forgotten. Our First Civil War reminds us that before America could win its revolution against Britain, the Patriots had to win a bitter civil war against family, neighbors, and friends.