David McCullough, . . Simon & Schuster, $32 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-2671-4
Bestselling historian and two-time Pulitzer winner McCullough follows up
Although brief by McCullough's standards, this is a narrative tour de force, exhibiting all the hallmarks the author is known for: fascinating subject matter, expert research and detailed, graceful prose. Throughout, McCullough deftly captures both sides of the conflict. The British commander, Lord General Howe, perhaps not fully accepting that the rebellion could succeed, underestimated the Americans' ingenuity. In turn, the outclassed Americans used the cover of night, surprise and an abiding hunger for victory to astonishing effect. Henry Knox, for example, trekked 300 miles each way over harsh winter terrain to bring 120,000 pounds of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, enabling the Americans, in a stealthy nighttime advance, to seize Dorchester Heights, thus winning the whole city.
Luck, McCullough writes, also played into the American cause—a vicious winter storm, for example, stalled a British counterattack at Boston, and twice Washington staged improbable, daring escapes when the war could have been lost. Similarly, McCullough says, the cruel northeaster in which Washington's troops famously crossed the Delaware was both "a blessing and a curse." McCullough keenly renders the harshness of the elements, the rampant disease and the constant supply shortfalls, from gunpowder to food, that affected morale on both sides—and it certainly didn't help the British that it took six weeks to relay news to and from London. Simply put, this is history writing at its best from one of its top practitioners.
Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7435-4466-5
Compact Disc - 10 pages - 978-0-7435-4423-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-6985-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7435-5177-9
Hardcover - 755 pages - 978-0-7862-7623-3
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-4165-4210-0
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-7432-8770-8
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-7432-2672-1
Paperback - 755 pages - 978-1-59413-143-1
Prebound-Glued - 386 pages - 978-1-61383-630-9