146 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An improvement on an already good book.
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...
Published on October 13, 2007 by Monty Rainey
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacked the Detail of Fischer's Washington's Crossing
Having first read David Hackett Fischer's 'Washington's Crossing', I felt like I was reading a Cliff Notes version of that book when reading 1776. Clearly Fischer's book is the superior product. First, it contains many more maps and better detail of troop movements and significantly more detail of the battles themselves and critical decisions that were made. Second, it...
Published on July 12, 2005 by James B. Carlen
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146 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An improvement on an already good book.,
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. It is a good book, which I did enjoy reading, but perhaps it is due to what I have read of McCullough's work before that left me somewhat dissappointed. I expected more from this book, but I suppose asking a two time Pulitzer winner to replicate prior efforts may be asking too much.
Now, for the illustrated portion of 1776. I first discovered this extraordinary new concept in a book I found for my grandkids called Piratology, where the book contained insert pages with folders which contained maps and other pirate related treasures. The book was a huge hit with the pirate infatuated boys. Here, the folders contain a variety of facsimiles such as documents, letters, maps, etc. This version also contains some beautiful photographs and is a gorgeous binding that looks extraordinary on the book shelf.
I only gave McCullough's original 1776 four stars, but this illustrated version is a definite upgrade and pushes this volume to top honors.
443 of 477 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How We Won Our Freedom,
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).
260 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely and gripping narrative...,
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.
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually Better Than 1776 Was,
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look Back at Our Beginning,
David McCullogh's book, 1776 stirred my imagination about the tribulations of George Washington at the onset of the American Revolution that began in Boston, spread to New York City, and finally, Trenton. Beset by disloyalty, intrigues, and creating an army from scratch, the author makes you feel the weight of responsibility that was placed on Washington's shoulders. He was a man who had to assuage congress, keep his officers working together in spite of backstabbing, and fight the British.
McCullough provides trivial but interesting information that makes one whistle, "So that's how...." Murray Hill, a telephone exchange and landscape in Manhattan got its name from Mrs. Murray who served Washington and his officers tea as they were being kicked around Manhattan by the Brits. Washington was nearly shot from his horse near what is now 3rd Avenue and 34th Street. Although the bullets missed, today he would have most assuredly been run over by a number of vehicles that wouldn't have.
He describes how Providence saved Washington at Brooklyn Heights when a fog rolled over the East River as the Americans were fleeing to Manhattan. That and the procrastination of General Howe prevented their slaughter by Hessian bayonet the following morning. It's hard to imagine that Hessians were encamped in the same neighborhood as the house where "Moonstruck" the movie, was filmed.
Washington's other monumental task was shaping an army where conscripts never before in their lives had been told by anyone what to do. Many simply returned to their homes after a battle or at night. In a time when armies died more from disease caused by poor sanitation than battle, Washington had to teach them to stand and fight, and relieve themselves in only one place, and not do all three at the same time against a formidable enemy. The US Army was in its infancy, and it was fighting the sun-won't-dare-set-on-it-if-it-knows-what's-good-for-it British empire.
The book takes us to the Battle of Trenton where Washington pulled off another miracle and did the unheard of, attack during winter. He destroyed the Hessian garrison at Trenton without the loss of a single soldier. This was particulary sweet for Washington whose troops were bayonetted unmercifully by the same contingent, earlier in the year at Harlem Heights.
For the history buff who wonders what was it like back then, David McCullough will provide the vision. All you have to do is provide the imagination.
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far from "biased" or "defective",
Seeing as "1776: The Illustrated Edition" is not about the political side of America's founding, it seems reasonable (and, I thought, beneficial to the book) to keep the focus narrower, and the depth greater. David McCullough's account of 1776 is no more biased than the writer of a Civil War book who chose to focus on the South, and thus did not give in-depth insights into the role of Ulysses S. Grant in the war.
I would imagine the fact that the previous reviewer has written a book on Benjamin Franklin might be a reason for the preference on seeing Franklin covered in all books about the war. It might also point to the reason for such undue scorn directed at the gorgeous illustrated version of an insightful, enjoyable (and successful) book like "1776."
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacked the Detail of Fischer's Washington's Crossing,
McCullough's book is worth reading, but if you are going to choose to read one book on this time period, Fischer's book is clearly the better choice.
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely narrative about America's struggle for independence,
This book focuses almost entirely on the actual armed struggle rather than the politics of that struggle. Very little is mentioned about the Continental Congress or any of the debates that took place there. All those men and their giant personalities remain on the periphery and instead we learn a great deal more about General George Washington, General Nathanael Green, Colonel Henry Knox, and to a lesser extent the commander of British forces, General William Howe. McCullough's narrative shows us--time and time again--the very human qualities and frailties possessed by these men. In the best of circumstance, war is basically a sustained period of unspeakable suffering, but for these patriots it was a time exacerbated by extreme inexperience, unseasonably harsh weather, shortages of food, muskets, gunpowder, clothing, shoes, and even pay. Poor knowledge of proper field sanitation and personal hygiene created perfect conditions for the growth and spread of deadly diseases. Smallpox flourished and actually plagued Washington's army without ceasing. Fully aware of these handicaps, Washington and his men were tasked to defeat a professional military force that bettered them in ever respect. The British land and sea forces were in fact the most powerful and successful military in the world at that time.
In spite of these overwhelming adversities, the men in this ragtag army gave all that they had for the cause of liberty and in the process these soldiers went from ordinary to extraordinary. This is a uniquely informative and compelling novel from one of America's premier historians. It is in fact a timeless story that deserves constant retelling and David McCullough has done wonderfully with this rendition.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but McCullough is usually better,
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1776 is still a very readable account of the year of our country's Declaration of Independence with some well-researched history, but it doesn't have the engaging style and pacing for which McCullough is so well known.
If you want a book that covers essentially the same events and time period, I'd recommend another recent book, "Washington's Crossing," by David Hackett Fischer first. (The two are very good read back-to-back for compare and contrast purposes) If you are curious about McCullough, start with "The Great Bridge" about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge or "John Adams."
This is by no means a bad book, but there are better books by this author on different topics, and better books on this topic by other authors. Recommended for history fans who want to cover all their bases.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History At Its Best!!!,
One of the many fine features of McCullough's work is his ability to draw portraits of men we revere as almost god-like (like Washington) that help us see them as actual humans, flawed but nevertheless exceptional. Another fine trait is McCullough's even handedness. One of the best sections of the book comes at the beginning with a description of King George III's declaring the colonists to be rebels. McCullough shows us the King and his ministers not as the bumbling fools of legend but as the honorable, patriotic, leaders they were, blinded by their inability to understand the colonial point of view and certain that they were upholding the rights of free Britons by putting down the American rebels.
1776 also pleases by liberally quoting from the letters and diaries of numerous American soldiers, so that the reader gets a sense of what life was like for the "grunts" as well as the leadership. That aspect is what I will remember longest about 1776, the story of those grimy farmers and small businessmen who weren't really sure they wanted to be there, and who didn't really trust or like their fellow soldiers from other colonies, but who put up with the dirt and the starvation and the danger because they trusted General Washington and were willing to fight for a vision they didn't fully understand but nevertheless valued. A great book to read on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or any day when you want to remember the past and be proud.
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1776 by David G. McCullough (Audio CD - May 24, 2005)