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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
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
on November 22, 2011
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
on March 16, 2012
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. Along the way, he introduces us to the complex and enigmatic figures of the day, such as Lord North, Prime Minister Germain, Sir Guy Carleton, Henry Knox, Nathanael Green, and, of course, George Washington. Thus, we have an even-handed portrait of these figures, understanding the unique dilemmas that each of these figures faced. Carleton is portrayed sympathetically, as he was given the historically thankless and logistically impossible task of removing the British Empire from North America. Dr. Fowler's rendering of Washington's famous speech at Newburgh, where he singlehandedly prevented a coercive takeover by the army, is masterful, as he balances detail while also conveying the drama of the moment.
I highly recommend this book to both scholars and popular audiences alike. It is my hope that this book continues to reveal that Washington's truly greatest moment was not necessarily on the battlefield but in his daily affirmation of civilian supremacy and the will of the people. Audiences will have a greater appreciation of Washington's steadfast pursuit of principle, never wavering in his conviction for republican values.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2014
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
on January 19, 2014
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2014
This was a very good read. I found that early leaders had as much trouble making decisions as our present day leaders. Highly suggest reading this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2014
The author is a good writer!
Excellent American history you never learned in school which is invaluable.

I also bought the following American history book:

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
The author provides some excellent insights into the problems our founders faced even after they had won at Yorktown. If one ever had doubts about the difficulty of governing America this book should help clarify that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2014
After the victory at Yorktown, the problem became how to maintain a standing army when there was no money to pay the troops and when there were no battles to fight. So the “American Crisis” was a fiscal crisis (and an army morale crisis) rather than a military crisis. This fiscal/morale crisis is well explained and supported with quoted material. (Indeed, the last 30% of the book is comprised of references and footnotes.) But a history book focused on finance problems (and Congress’ inaction to address them), though informative, is difficult to make interesting. So I feel this book is for the serious history student only. Having a more casual interest myself, I only gave this book 2 stars.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
This is a MUST READ for any lover of American History! For those who are not history buffs, it is extremely readable and flows like a good novel. The footnotes are full of wonderful information which adds to the readers command of the subject. I learned a lot about a critical period of time which is often ignored in American history classes.
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Customers who viewed this also viewed
The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown
The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown by Thomas Fleming (Hardcover - October 9, 2007)

1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War
1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War by Robert Tonsetic (Hardcover - October 10, 2011)


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