- Author: David McCullough
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
- Published: June 2006
- ISBN-10: 0743226720
- ISBN-13: 9780743226721
- Format: Paperback
- Copyright: 2005
- Subject: MILITARY-AMER REVOLUTION
A master storyteller's character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great-) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he ";could march from one end of the American continent to the other."; Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women's work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans' military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers ";who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins"; at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world's highest standard of living in 1776.Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose ";outcome seemed little short of a miracle."; A sterling account. Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
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