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1776 [Paperback]

by David McCullough
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,101 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27, 2006 0743226720 978-0743226721 1st 09 - 12
America’s beloved and distinguished historian presents, in a book of breathtaking excitement, drama, and narrative force, the stirring story of the year of our nation’s birth, 1776, interweaving, on both sides of the Atlantic, the actions and decisions that led Great Britain to undertake a war against her rebellious colonial subjects and that placed America’s survival in the hands of George Washington.

In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold off the world's greatest army. He also effectively explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton was magnified despite its limited strategic importance.

Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian. --Shawn Carkonen

The Other 1776

With his riveting, enlightening accounts of subjects from Johnstown Flood to John Adams, David McCullough has become the historian that Americans look to most to tell us our own story. In his Amazon.com interview, McCullough explains why he turned in his new book from the political battles of the Revolution to the battles on the ground, and he marvels at some of his favorite young citizen soldiers who fought alongside the remarkable General Washington.

The Essential David McCullough


John Adams

Truman

Mornings on Horseback

The Path Between the Seas

The Great Bridge

The Johnstown Flood

More Reading on the Revolution

The Great Improvisation by Stacy Schiff

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer

His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

Washington's General by Terry Golway

Iron Tears by Stanley Weintraub

Victory at Yorktown by Richard M. Ketchum
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestselling historian and two-time Pulitzer winner McCullough follows up John Adams by staying with America's founding, focusing on a year rather than an individual: a momentous 12 months in the fight for independence. How did a group of ragtag farmers defeat the world's greatest empire? As McCullough vividly shows, they did it with a great deal of suffering, determination, ingenuity—and, the author notes, luck.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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Grade Level: 09 - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 1300L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: HOLT MCDOUGAL; 1st edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743226720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743226721
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback; His other widely praised books are 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An improvement on an already good book. October 13, 2007
Format:Hardcover
Originally published in 2005, 1776 by David McCullough was an enjoyable read. This new illustrated version is sure to add new life to an already successful book. Since there are two issues here, the original text and then the illustrated revision, I'm going to review the two issues separately.

Let me begin by saying, quite simply, I enjoyed the book. This book serves as somewhat of an overview of what is perhaps the most critical year of the last millenium. Some may dissagree with that and may make legitimate cases for other years of historical significance, but that is for another discussion.

McCullough recounts the major events of the year and gives good narrative of each event. However, just as the Revolutionary War was somewhat slow to get starting, so too is this book. The accounts are all meticulously accurate in the historical sense and McCullough has certainly succeeded in amassing the information critical to a basic knowledge of what events transpired in bringing forth American independence.

The deeper the reader gets into the book, as with the war itself, the more complex it becomes and I found myself soon rivited to every detail and this one becomes, what many might refer to as a real "page turner". By the time the reader reaches the final pages, the year 1776 is drawing to a close, and sadly, so does the book. Perhaps in this way, McCullough has served to stimulate the interest of readers first learning of the events and will cause them to take their research of America's founding to the next level.

I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to say in reviewing a book, but this one has left me a bit perplexed.
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446 of 480 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How We Won Our Freedom May 24, 2005
Format:Hardcover
David McCullough is known as a sterling storyteller of American history with two Pulitizer Prizes for Biography ("John Adams" 2001 and "Truman" 1992) and a National Book Award ("Mornings on Horseback" 1981). What many readers may not realize is that he is a researcher par excellence as evidence by the ten years he spent reading original documents, interviewing and travelling to relevant sites for "Truman." Now he utilizes some of his previous background research for "John Adams" to tell the tale of the crucial year of the American Revolution. "1776."

Most Americans are familiar with the Christmas Eve crossing of the Delaware River to win the Battle of Trenton and to close out 1776. Mr. McCullough describes the more unfamiliar stories of the American siege of Boston in driving out the British army and the British victory in driving the Revoluntionary army from New York City.

His real strength is as an editor, in choosing which historical stories to include and to exclude, for his 284 page narrative (with 100 additional pages of supporting documentation) could easily have been thrice its current length. In fact, David Hackett Fischer's "Washington Crossing" (2004) and William Dwyer's "The Day Is Ours" (1983) are both over 400+ pages in reciting only the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. The reader should be aware that "1776" is merely an introduction to that year, for the actions of the other Founding Fathers (and Mothers) are barely mentioned.

"1776" is fun to read as the 229th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence approaches. Mr. McCullough makes clear how close the American Revolution came to failing that year. British overconfidence and Washington's determination (for his battlefield experince as a military commander was nil) were the difference. The reader is directed to "Patriots" (1988) by A.J. Langguth for the best overall view of the American Revolution (1761-1783).
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263 of 286 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely and gripping narrative... May 24, 2005
Format:Hardcover
There are certain periods of history that never seem to become tired or dull regardless of how often they are written about. It seems that each new investigator finds some thing new to write about. The American Revolution is a case in point. A quick check of books in print will convince you.

David McCullough's 1776 is a terrific investigation into the beginning of the American Revolution. Is it perfect? NO. It does have some missing pieces. But these minor defects are just that...minor. If you look at the complete work, I think you'll find that what 1776 lacks is made up for by McCulloughs ability to deliver the main facts on time and in a way the reader can grasp.

As in John Adams, McCullough again finds the ability to make the main characters jump off the page. Washington, a figure that history has rightfully made larger than life is once again a human man, tortured with doubts and always mindful that disaster is just around the corner. I especially like the treatment that McCullough give King George III.

As a reader, I always like reading a book that moves along. McCullough's narrative does that quite well. In fact, some of the flaws that other reviewers have rightfully pointed out seem to spring from this style of writing.

Well researched and paced for the non-historian, 1776 is a winner. When all is said and done, you'll find that 1776 is worth the time you'll spend reading it.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually Better Than 1776 Was October 3, 2007
Format:Hardcover
At first I thought it was a gimmicky idea (a gimmicky idea that worked easily enough on little ol' me) to release something like this, but the plain fact is this is an interesting book that makes me feel like I used to as a kid when I'd read those neat pop-up books that were filled with compartments and extras to be found, taken out and read. This is both an augmentation of the author's bestseller 1776 (which I wasn't overly impressed with, truth be told) and an excellent, even superior, stand alone work. I loved reading through the facsimiles of letters, seeing the maps, sketches, houses, portraits and scenes of places significant to the tale of the great year of our country's true start. I enjoyed this book a lot and think it was a novel idea that worked well. It's fun to get through, fact-filled, and rewardingly educational. What a neat idea!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Visuals are great reading this book
So much to know about the Revolution, and this book gives us a birds eye view of the General and his troops, the land and the trials or nature
Published 3 days ago by carol Herrmann
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
Great book. Learned a lot. Loved it. I think all Americans should read this to appreciate what our forefathers did for us.
Published 6 days ago by georock
5.0 out of 5 stars makes the history more real
The book focuses primarily on colonial activity, but there is enough information about British actions and motives to really put everything into context. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Best
If you don't love this book, there is something wrong with you.

An easy read, it puts this critical year in American history in its starkest terms - how desperate the... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Dennis J. Curran
4.0 out of 5 stars A very close look at an important chapter in America's history
McCullough looks more deeply at this period of a little more than a year in America's earliest days than any account I've read before. Read more
Published 16 days ago by J. Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
Every American should read this book. We must first learn why should be so grateful and then we must never forget.
Published 17 days ago by g1nh
5.0 out of 5 stars insight of 1776
Excellent story of the depths of despair to the rush of hope. A must read for the historian. A well written book.
Published 17 days ago by Dr. Michael L. Grimes
5.0 out of 5 stars History
Book provides some insight into George Washington that I had never read before. Amazing how close we came to remaining a colony of England.
Published 18 days ago by SLG
5.0 out of 5 stars 1776
1776 is a great little book.

The story begins in London on October 26, 1775, with a vivid compendium of eyewitness accounts of King George III’s stately procession from... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Erik Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Heard him interviewed and love the book
I ordered this on the strength of hearing an interview with the author on our local PBS station. I'm glad I did. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. Paul
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Welcome to the 1776 forum
I was struck by McCullough's description of pro- and anti-war voices in England. They sound much as they do today, don't they? I suppose all wars have essentially the same debate, varying only by which side is being discussed(i.e., which state, aggressor or aggrieved?).
Feb 21, 2006 by Walter Mitty |  See all 3 posts
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