Years before Michael Shaara wrote his Civil War classic, The Killer Angels, about the friends who faced each other at Gettysburg, Thomas Fleming launched his stellar career with this terrific– and similarly themed and gripping– narrative about the first battle of our first civil war, the American Revolution.
In Now We Are Enemies: The Story of Bunker Hill, now available in a 50th anniversary edition, Fleming reminds us that nearly all of the patriots on the American side with military experience had fought with the British against the French in the not so distant past; and that Governor Gage and General Howe were picked for their respective jobs because their friendships on the American side made them the most likely candidates to bring peace.
Now We Are Enemies remains the most complete telling of the famed battle which made famous the command, “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes,” and reminds us that while it was spun as a moral victory for the Patriot cause, Bunker Hill was an utter rout in favor of the British forces.
But perhaps the most significant contribution of this book is to remind us of an American hero mostly forgotten by all but the most ardent history buffs: 34 year-old Dr. Joseph Warren. Warren was perhaps Boston’s most popular Patriot, a brilliant leader and budding Founding Father who died at Bunker Hill before he could take his place with other prominent Bostonians like the Adamses, John Hancock and Paul Revere.
Now We Are Enemies is a chance to take a look at two beginnings, that of the Revolution, and of perhaps its finest historian.