The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom
Bruce Chadwick. Sourcebooks, $24.95 (399pp) ISBN 978-1-4022-0506-4
In this novelistic treatment of the Revolutionary War, Chadwick (George Washington's War, Brother Against Brother) uses the experiences of eight men to give the reader a ""bottom up"" look at the war. Drawing on their letters and diaries, he follows them through their years in and out of the war, from the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 to the American victory at Yorktown in 1781. Although the horrors of battle are a main focus of their writings, everyday activities and concerns-romance, food, clothing, leisure and friendship-reveal much about these early Americans' lives. Readers will find little academic analysis of the subjects; except for a few expansive chapter introductions, Chadwick keeps standard history writing to a minimum. Instead, he focuses on these men's day-to-day and writes in lively prose, although some accounts push the limits of reconstruction and read like fiction. Readers unfamiliar with the history of the revolutionary war may find themselves lost in the rapid shuffling between campaigns, battles and locations, but the stories of individual soldiers, doctors and ministers are strong enough to carry casual readers as well as those accustomed to academic histories.
Reviewed on: 10/03/2005