Win a Family Weekend Break with Lovereading and VisitWiltshire - click here for details...

tudor queens series
Search our site
The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton Read the opening extract of the brand new Fern Britton book before its publication on 01/02/2018

Liberty's Exiles How the Loss of America Made the British Empire by Maya Jasanoff

Liberty's Exiles How the Loss of America Made the British Empire

History   All Shortlists and Winners   

Lovereading view...

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011.

From the prize-winning author of 'Edge of Empire' comes an exhilarating, ambitious, personality-filled book, at once an intimate narrative history and a compelling new account of the making of the modern British Empire.


Liberty's Exiles How the Loss of America Made the British Empire by Maya Jasanoff

From the prize-winning author of 'Edge of Empire' comes an exhilarating, ambitious, personality-filled book, at once an intimate narrative history and a compelling new account of the making of the modern British Empire. On a November day in 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing British rule in the United States to an end. It was the greatest British imperial defeat in generations. None felt the loss more immediately than the hundreds of thousands of Americans who had remained loyal to Britain. What would happen to them in the new United States? Would they and their families be safe? Facing grave doubts, some sixty thousand loyalists decided to leave their homes and become refugees, to rebuild their shattered lives elsewhere in the British Empire. They sailed for Britain, for Canada, for Jamaica and the Bahamas; some ventured as far as Sierra Leone and India. Wherever they went, the voyage out of America was a fresh beginning and it carried them into a dynamic if uncertain new world. 'Liberty's Exiles' tells, for the first time, the story of this extraordinary global diaspora -- the most wide-ranging refugee crisis Britain had ever faced. Through painstaking archival research and vivid story-telling, award-winning historian Maya Jasanoff recreates the astonishing journeys of ordinary individuals whose lives were overturned by extraordinary events. She tells of loyalists like Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who spent nearly thirty years as a migrant, questing for a home in Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. David George, a black preacher born into slavery, found freedom and faith in the British Empire, and eventually led his followers to seek a new Jerusalem in Sierra Leone. Mohawk Indian leader Joseph Brant resettled his people under British protection in Ontario; while adventurer William Augustus Bowles tried to shape a loyal Cree Indian state in Florida. For all these figures and more it was the British Empire --not the United States -- that held out the promise of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. An exhilirating, personality-filled book, 'Liberty's Exiles' is history at its finest.


'Liberty's Exiles is book which in scope and originality, global reach and research, intellectual curiosity and sheer provocative panache -- upturning in its wake whole apple-carts of unchallenged assumptions --can sustain comparison with Linda Colley or the young Simon Schama. The truth is that Maya Jasanoff is not just a very good writer, an indefatigable researcher and a fine historian, she is also a bit of a genius.' William Dalrymple

'I can think of few books published in the past thirty years that shed more brilliant and revelatory light on the events of the revolutionary era than Liberty's Exiles. It is more than just a work of first-class scholarship! It is a deeply moving masterpiece that fulfils the historian's most challenging ambition: to revivify past experience.' -- Niall Ferguson, author of Empire

'Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles places the loyalist experience and the aftermath of the American Revolution in an entirely new light. Alongside the Spirit of 1776, Jasanoff gives us the Spirit of 1783, dedicated to remaking the mighty British Empire, and then offers a stunning reinterpretation of the loyalists complicated role in that remaking. Her meticulously researched and superbly written account is historical revision at its finest, and it affirms her place as one of the very finest historians of the rising generation.' Sean Wilentz

Praise for The Edge of Empire:

'This is a very clever and wonderfully researched and written book which illumines French as well as British imperial experience, artifacts and culture, and which looks at all the actors involved in a vivid and nuanced fashion. An original new voice'
Linda Colley

'One of the most exciting historians to emerge in years. Her crackling prose and outstanding research have resulted in a ground-breaking book. A must-read.'
Amanda Foreman

'Maya Jasanoff!triumphs in this memorable debut. This is partly because, mirroring her subject, she has adopted a vivacious methodology that defies category. Jasanoff's investigation of the world that made her evokes the midday sun, the unforgettable stench and blare of the East, but populates it with characters to whom the reader can relate, as strange as fiction, but actually found in real life.'
Robert McCrum, Observer

'Brilliant!a riveting book that gives an entirely fresh dimension to our understanding of the expansion of empire!A historical tour de force, with wonderfully original material moulded into a convincing new narrative. Britain's empire will never look quite the same again.'
Richard Gott, Guardia

'[A] remarkable first book!the drama of Jasanoff's stories, and her infectious enthusiasm, make this a consuming read.'
Sunday Times

About the Author

Maya Jasanoff was born in 1974. She graduated from Harvard before earning her Masters degree at Cambridge University. Her PhD was completed in Yale. She is now Professor of British History at the University of Virginia. She is widely known to many British historians (William Dalrymple, Linda Colley) for her pioneering work on the study of Empire.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Maya Jasanoff

More books by Maya Jasanoff
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...





All Shortlists and Winners



It's the first site that I visit when deciding on the next set of books to buy. A particular treat is being able to download an extract.

Tessa Olson

Books of the month/debuts of the month, kids/adults, fiction/non-fiction, free prize draws and free extracts, what's not to love?

Emma Smith

It is a website dedicated to those who adore reading It really is a one stop shop for book lovers. Love it!

Edel Waugh

I love Lovereading because of its ability to connect people that love books & unite them in a friendly, stimulating & interesting community.

Megan Olwen William

Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.

Pam Woodburn

I read new, exciting writers and established authors before publication and there is a great website full of brilliant books and opinions.


Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

If you LOVE reading then you will love LOVEREADING! It's a 'novel' idea. Seriously though I could not recommend them enough.

Rebecca Whymark