3 Mar

1776 by David McCullough

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Did you know that there was a battle for Long Island in New York and that the American army defeated a group of German mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey?  Did you know that British ships sailed the Hudson river and sent cannonballs crashing into Manhattan island (then New York island)?  Speaking as one who received my revisionist history in a south Texas junior high from a big-haired, football boosting, ex-cheerleader-and-proud-of-it teacher, this is all new material.

The year of 1776 was one of the most eventful of the entire revolutionary war.  Often thought of as the year America declared independence, it turns out that independence from Britain was not actually secured for several more years.

This book takes the reader through the year chronologically and familiarizes us with such American icons as General Washington, Henry Knox, Nathaniel Greene, John Adams, and many others.  We also learn about the British leaders such as Cornwallis and Grant, who had just as much impact on the future of the United States as those opposing them.

In addition to the personalities, we also learn about the movements of the armies and the decisions made by their commanders.  Individual skirmishes and major battles are examined in enough detail to truly get a sense of what happened and why. 

Truly great historical writing personalizes the characters being examined and gives the reader an appreciation of the times in which they lived.  1776 does that in spades, which is why David McCullough will undoubtedly pick up his 3rd Pulitzer for it.  His reputation as a  “master of the art of narrative history” is well deserved.

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