Most helpful critical review
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Good, but is not the whole story
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 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.