Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778–1781

John E. Ferling. Bloomsbury, $40 (736p) ISBN 978-1-63557-276-6
Historian Ferling (Apostles of the Revolution) examines in this deeply researched and well-argued account how the Revolutionary War shifted from a conflict “that many on both sides had thought would be short, and not especially bloody” to a “gigantic world war” that dragged on for eight years. He details England’s missed opportunities to quash the rebellion early on, before delving into how Sir Henry Clinton, who took charge of British forces in North America in May 1778, stalemated the conflict by shifting troops and resources from the North to the South, seeking to regain British control of the Carolinas and Georgia. Bucking conventional assessments of Clinton’s leadership, Ferling portrays him as a “comprehensive and thoughtful” tactician whose “southern strategy” sunk the rebels’ morale, ravaged the American economy, and nearly led to a negotiated peace with England in control of multiple colonies. Though Ferling is more focused on tactics and strategies than personalities, he draws incisive comparisons between Clinton’s belief that “more was to be gained from avoiding defeat than rolling the dice in hopes of gaining victory” and Gen. George Washington’s mindset. Readers will gain fresh insight into how thin the line between victory and defeat was for both armies. Agent: Geri Thoma, Writers House. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/04/2021
Release date: 05/11/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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