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Prelude to Disaster

George III and the Origins of the American Revolution, 1751–1763


John L. Bullion

Prelude to Disaster is the most comprehensive account of the fateful decision to tax American colonists. Unlike other studies, it emphasizes the central role of the young George III in the process. Central to this examination are George’s principles of statecraft and government, his thoughts on pre- and post-war empires, his assessments of future relations with Britain’s great antagonist France, his personality and its development before and after his accession to the throne, his friendship with the earl of Bute, and his attitudes toward domestic policies and politicians, especially George Grenville.

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I have been a member of two departments of history, the first at Texas State University-San Marcos, the second at the University of Missouri. My tenure in San Marcos lasted four years. At the end of this academic year I will have been at Missouri for thirty-nine years. The faculty, students, and staff at both schools have shaped my scholarship and pedagogy in ways both obvious and subtle, and they have taught me both what universities are and what they could and should be. They did not show me that departments are usually or, perhaps, ever united on means and ends, strategies and tactics, and what constitutes good history. But in moments of real crisis or opportunity they always managed to patch together useful coalitions to seize advantage or to defend themselves. I have been fortunate indeed in my professional life. For that I am properly thankful. And, particularly when I was chair of the history department at Missouri, they impacted my writings on George III and Lyndon Johnson. Departments are an ongoing seminar in small group politics; they have been a useful guide to the maneuvers and policies of America’s Last King and LBJ. After he finished his magisterial Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon observed, “the captain of the Hampshire Grenadiers (the reader may smile) has not been useless to the historian of the Roman Empire.” Nor has holding a variety of administrative posts at the University ← ix | x → of Missouri been useless...

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