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An American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783 Hardcover – September 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; Book Club Edition edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717061
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“'Huzzah!’ for William Fowler. His superb American Crisis brings to life, with great clarity and understanding, one of the least-known, most important chapters in the long struggle for independence, and leaves no doubt of how much, once again, was owed to George Washington for how things turned out.”
—David McCullough, author of John Adams, 1776, and The Greater Journey
 
“Bill Fowler is the author of many important works of American history, but with American Crisis he has written the book of his long and distinguished career.  Chronicling one of the least known portions of the American Revolution—the two years between Yorktown and the actual end of the war—he has created a page-turner full of intrigue, drama, and countless unexpected twists.  You will never think of George Washington in quite the same way after reading American Crisis.”
—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea and Mayflower  
 
“The Revolutionary War did not end with the Allied victory at Yorktown. Two uncertain and perilous years elapsed before the peace treaty that ended the war finally took effect. At last, there is a book that examines these critical war years in detail. William Fowler’s magnificent American Crisis treats General Washington’s preparations for more war, the woeful American economy, peace negotiations, and the politics of the Continental army. In rich detail and graceful prose, Fowler fleshes out an often forgotten part of the War of Independence, a time that shaped and prepared Washington for the political battles on his horizon.”
—John Ferling, author of Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free and several books on George Washington

About the Author

William M. Fowler, Jr. is a distinguished professor of History at Northeastern University in Boston. Prior to that, for eight years he was director of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He is the author of Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, Jack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815, Beacon Hill: A Biography of John Hancock, and Samuel Adams: Radical Puritan. He lives in Reading, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

The author is a good writer!
JPL
Tonsetic does an outstanding job in explaining how Nathaniel Greene's southern campaign strategy resulted in the American victory at Yorktown.
Robert
After reading this book, I was very impressed with the way this book was written.
Kevin G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Robert on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as a companion piece to Robert Tonsetic's book 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War I've read many excellent books on the early years of the American Revolution, and the decisive battles of the war, but I was never able to tie it all together with the final result, American independence. Tonsetic does an outstanding job in explaining how Nathaniel Greene's southern campaign strategy resulted in the American victory at Yorktown. Fowler picks up where Tonsetic left off explaining how Washington navigated the dangerous two years after Yorktown, as the war wound down. Both of these distinguished authors, one a military historian, and the other a highly respected academic historian, are to be commended for authoring these two books that are valuable additions to the literature on the American Revolution. I highly recommend both books to any reader interested in the American Revolution
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Historian on November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Positive:
Fowler is a good writer, and is not too breezy with his prose but not dense and plodding like so many academic books. The subject is interesting, and not often told. Fowler's book is far better than Thomas Fleming's book on this subject, published a few years ago. Overall I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it with a reservation.

The problem:
The book really emphasizes George Washington's perspective in the "dangerous two years after Yorktown." It is not, as the title may imply, a history of the American experiment in the 2 years after Yorktown, because it leaves out an awful lot. Who was the most important figure in America during these 2 years? Not GW, but Robert Morris. The author devotes far too little of his text to Morris's financial shenanigans and attempt to use the army (as did Hamilton) to pressure Congress to adopt his own self-serving financial plots. Thus, we really only get ½ the story of the 2 dangerous years (and arguably, most of the danger was caused by Morris in the first place.) Check the index and see how few pages are devoted to Morris and the attempts of many elites to pervert the end of the Rev War into a financial windfall for themselves. Richard Kohn's work on the subject is far more comprehsive.

We also get too little on the Society of the Cincinnati, and how it was viewed as a threat to democracy and equality. Nevertheless, the book is a good read, worth the time, and does a nice job of looking at Washington's perspective during these 2 years.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Lim on March 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When we think about George Washington's finest moments, most people recall the image of him desperately leading a rag tag army across the Delaware River in the winter cold. Others may recall his leadership during the presidency, laying the foundation of the national government. However, the one moment that distinguishes Washington from almost all other historical figures is his resignation to the Congress in 1783 after 8 long years of war, firmly establishing the principle of civilian supremacy in the United States. The very idea of a victorious military figure relinquishing power was so novel at the time that King George III, shocked upon hearing of Washington's action, said that it would make him "the greatest man in the world."
Dr. Fowler's book recalls the final two years of the war, between the final battle at Yorktown in October 1781 and Washington's resignation in December 1783, where Washington faced enormous and historically unprecedented challenges in keeping the army together and preserving what had been won in battle. Rather than a mere interregnum, those two years featured crisis after crisis, as the army threatened mutinies, uprisings against congress, the states and the federal government battled bankruptcy, and the British, French, and Spanish continued to jockey for power and threaten the sovereignty of the new nation. Dr. Thomas Fleming previously covered this same period in his book, The Perils of Peace. Dr. Fowler's contribution is a wonderful narrative that is well-researched and yet highly readable for the popular audience.
Dr. Fowler provides the point of view from multiple perspectives, enhancing our understanding of the context. He views that critical period from the perspective of British parliament, American loyalists, patriot soldiers, and legislators.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dick on June 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In your school history class you learn of Washington's victory at Yorktown and then you immediate go to Washington becoming our first president. Few even get a glimpse at the struggles and uncertainties of the two years between these events. While this book is a history book Fowler's writing style makes it a little less dense than many histories. He tries to bring out personalities and feelings and not just concentrate on events. A good book to cover an unknown period of American History.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By richard e whitelock on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even with the surrender of the British forces at Yorktown, it was still a full two years before the Treaty of Ghent was signed by both parties. Charleston and Savannah were still in the hands of the British. The South was clearly Tory dominated. New York city was a British stronghold. What to do with all the British loyalist? Where do you send them and who do you keep? And then America, with its new found freedom had to assume the reins of a new democracy among thirteen states that were as diverse as the word implies. New society, new economy, new banking system, new commerce system, new military, and a congress that had to make laws that all would adhere to. The fishing rights and shipping cargoes were clearly in the hands of the British Navy. Americans were being captured at sea and forced to serve in the British navy. We won the war, but what we did initially win? As a new nation, do we select a king or elect a president? How will the legislature be formed and how will it function? We had the declaration but needed the constitution and Bill of Rights. We needed money to run the new government. We had more questions than answers. So Washington was in a bit of a dilemma. Read this book and see how many of these obstacles challenged the new nation in the first two years after Yorktown. Everything was over but the fighting.
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