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Now We Are Enemies: The Story of Bunker Hill


Now We Are Enemies
The Story of Bunker Hill

Thomas Fleming

Fifty years ago, reviewers across America hailed Now We Are Enemies as a masterpiece. It still remains the most complete account of the clash that changed the course of America history—the battle of Bunker Hill.  It was the first book about the battle in almost 100 years—and it marked the emergence of an author who has become widely acknowledged as the best historian of the American Revolution writing today.

The book’s readability and imagery was—and still is—vividly clear from the opening pages. “Suddenly in the empty streets of Charlestown there were moving figures. In single file fifty men hugged the dark sides of the vacant houses, stopping every few feet to listen for the sound of a hostile footstep.” Across the harbor in Boston, three British major generals conferred on a plan to destroy the impromptu American army that has been besieging them. 

The drama’s appeal swiftly expands from suspense to profoundly human dimensions. We meet privates, sergeants, lieutenants, colonels and generals from both armies who frequently tell their stories in their own words. There are pages rich in courage—and laden with heartbreak. “For God’s sake spare that man!” shouts Colonel Israel Putnam as his men take deadly aim at a British officer. “I love him as a brother!” The British commander, General William Howe, stares numbly at his shattered bleeding ranks and experiences “a moment I never felt before.”

There is only one word for such history—unforgettable.

Book Jacket Flap Copy

On the slopes of Breed’s Hill, across the harbor from the seaport town of Boston, a decisive engagement in the War of Independence was fought on June 17, 1775. Patriots who had labored throughout the night, entrenched in a rude, hastily-constructed fort, clashed with a highly-trained army of British regulars. This moment in time, the culmination of the failure of negotiations between England and America, was the beginning of the end for British rule in the American colonies.

Now We Are Enemies remains the quintessential narrative of this encounter, which we now call the Battle of Bunker Hill. First published in 1960, it brought instant acclaim and recognition to its author. Its unique style, use of original documentation and quotations, and fairness of tone made it a milestone in the historical non-fiction genre. It was the first book of its kind, a vividly readable and factual history told with compassion and balance as it related the particulars of a history-transforming conflict.

Like a sleuth behind the scenes, Thomas Fleming describes the political intrigues that swayed the colonial leaders on both sides as they attempted to maintain peace. We gain a solid grasp of the historical background that influenced the relationships between the British and Americans. We feel the pain of Royal Governor Thomas Gage while he contemplates his next move. We share the enthusiasm of the American farmers and mechanics as they begin building their fort.

Above all we identify with the book’s tragic hero, handsome charismatic 34-year-old Dr. Joseph Warren, the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, as he struggles to sort out agonizing alternatives. Is a negotiated peace possible? Governor Gage says it is. But American spies in Boston report the British are planning an all out assault on the American army on June 18. Will this seizure of Bunker Hill checkmate the British?

With masterful strokes, Fleming paints vivid portraits of other leaders—burly profane Colonel Israel Putnam of Massachusetts, and reserved precise Colonel William Prescott of Massachusetts. Both have served in previous wars with officers in the British army now confronting them. Major General William Howe’s older brother died in Putnam’s arms and Howe fought beside Prescott in another battle, where the American so distinguished himself that he was offered a commission in the British army.

Now, fifteen years later, Prescott and Putnam will steady their raw troops with harsh advice to hold their fire on the advancing British ranks until “you can see their buttons” or “the whites of their eyes.” In the fort is Dr. Joseph Warren, wearing the uniform of a major general, struggling against overwhelming premonitions of a violent death.

More than fifty reviewers called this book unforgettable in 1960. It is as gripping—and as vital to our understanding of the word American—today.


Format: 6” x 9” dust-jacketed hardback printed on acid-free natural paper

Pages: 320, including: Table of Contents, new Introduction by Thomas Fleming, Foreword by Edwin S. Grosvenor, Editor in Chief of American Heritage Magazine, A Note on Sources and Methods, new Index, and About the Author
Illustrations: Decorated endsheets/endpapers depicting 1775 map of Boston area and a map of Bunker Hill during the battle
ISBN 10: 0-9842256-6-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-9842256-6-8
LCCN: 2010925924
Price: $22.95

About the Author

Thomas Fleming, author of "Now We Are Enemies"

Thomas Fleming is a prolific historian and novelist who is widely known for his many award-winning works about the American Revolution. He is a frequent guest on C-Span, The History Channel and PBS. Fleming also contributes articles to such magazines as American Heritage, Military History, History Today, and MHQ (The Quarterly Journal of Military History). Commenting on Fleming’s contribution to our understanding of the American Revolution, historian Richard Norton Smith said: “I can’t imagine any writer living who can match Thomas Fleming’s genius for recreating those days of peril and promise.”

Praise for the original 1960 edition of Now We Are Enemies

“The multi-viewed method, the apt use of quotation, the piling up of incident and the terse style, give the book a vibrant immediacy. Now We Are Enemies yields to no account in sheer interest and readability.” – The New York Times

 “Brilliant…An absolute must for anyone interested in American history.” – Los Angeles Times

 “The author has transformed the familiar story into a living picture of men and events, without sacrifice of truth or scholarly integrity, but with modern awareness of its purposes, its errors, and its triumph…An important and fascinating book.” – Chicago Tribune

“Fleming is to be congratulated. He has reached into the personal lives of combatants on both sides, linked these with actual historical fact, and come up with a superb book.” – Austin American-Statesman

 “A whale of a good book….” – National Review

 “A great battle has been given new life and glory.”– Chicago Sunday Tribune

“Drama at its best. Fleming makes mere names in a history book come alive.” – The Nashville Banner

 “A narrative of sustained dramatic power and vigorous portrayal of character. Highly recommended.” – Rotarian

“Fleming says his purpose has been “to transform the story of Bunker Hill from a few pages in a history book to the magnificent drama of courage which it is. He has certainly succeeded.’
Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Fleming makes all his readers eyewitnesses. He has recreated June 17, 1775 with vividness and truth.”—New York Herald Tribune

“The narrative is sustained and exciting, the characters wonderfully realized.” – Cleveland Press

 “Painstaking research, including many letters heretofore unpublished makes characters come to life in a way not found in school books.” – The Wichita Eagle

“…a dramatic and fascinating account of a battle that changed the course of history.” – The Citizen News, Shellman. GA

 “…an exciting narrative of brave men on both sides, sincere in their opposite beliefs, and loyal to those beliefs.” – The Hartford Courant

 “Renewed confidence in the destiny our country is to be found in Fleming’s narrative.” – The U.S. Press Association

“Like a director with a revolving stage, the author introduces privates, sergeants, officers from ensigns to major generals who tell their particular stories of that June day, often in their own words…the whole blending into a swell of high fine courage on both sides.” – Saturday Review of Literature

Recent Articles by Thomas Fleming

  • Military History, July 2010—“First Blood –The British retreat from Concord, 1775” 
  • American Heritage, Spring 2010 –“Franklin Charms Paris”
  • Smithsonian, March 2010 – ‘Dolley Madison Saves The Day”
  • American Heritage, Winter 2010 –“Will A United States Happen?”
  • American Heritage, Winter 2009 – “Wall Street’s First Collapse (the Bubble of 1792)”
  • American Heritage, Fall 2009 – “George Washington’s Secret Love”
  • Military History, Aug-Sept 2009 – “Fallen Timbers, Broken Alliance” (1794 battle of Fallen Timbers)
  • MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of American History, Spring 2008 – “George Washington’s Tears”
  • American Heritage, March 2006 –“The Magnificent Fraud” (Profile of Baron Von Steuben)
  • MHQ – Winter 2006 –“General George Washington, Politician”
  • MHQ –Spring 2004 – “We Have Met The Enemy and We Were Almost Theirs” (Battle of Lake Erie)
  • MHQ – Winter 2001 – “Old Hickory’s Finest Hour” (Battle of New Orleans)
  • MH, February-March, 2009 (Vol. 25, No. 6) - “Plotter or Patriot” (Baron de Kalb)
  • MH, December, 2007 (Vol. 24, No. 9) – “It is Sweet and Fitting to Die for Ones Country” (John Laurens)



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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 17 May, 2011.

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