These two books invite interdisciplinary discussion. Nelson’s Royalist Revolution is about the intersection of high thought, ideas in practice, and political change (or, in this case, non-change). Along with Gerald Horne’s Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (New York, 2014), which deals with an entirely different problem (slavery’s persistence), it posits the American Founding as regressive, even reactionary. Larson’s Return of George Washington is more straightforward, a narrative of the short period between Washington’s surrender of his army commission and his accession to the presidency. But the two books work together.

Washington receives just seven mentions in Nelson’s text. But the dust jacket, which draws on a Currier and Ives print to depict him resplendent in white breeches and blue coat, taking command of well-disciplined troops attired like him, suggests that Washington is central to the problem. Washington also decorates Larson’s dust...

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