Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated radio show host, is the author of Broke, The 7, and seven #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Original Argument, An Inconvenient Book, The Christmas Sweater, Glenn Beck’s Common Sense, Arguing with Idiots, The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book, and The Overton Window. Visit GlennBeck.com.
Friday, December 13, 1776 The Widow White’s Tavern Basking Ridge, New Jersey
It required a very special manner of general to have a tranquil breakfast in the middle of a war in which his own side confronted massive peril.
But Charles Lee was that sort of general—and man.
The torch of freedom, shining so brightly following General William Howe’s evacuation of Boston, was now threatened with darkness. New York City had, in battle after battle, been ingloriously lost. Even the outpost named for Lee himself—New Jersey’s “Fort Lee”—had been abandoned. Philadelphia seemed next. Thousands of rebel soldiers had been lost, either slain in battle or now bound in heavy iron chains. Thousands more had simply vanished and gone home.
It was mid-morning, nearing ten o’clock, yet General Lee sat quietly in his soiled, rumpled cap and dressing gown, here at the widow Mary White’s two-storied, two-chimneyed tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The slovenly Lee cheerfully munched upon his eggs and hard bread and plentiful portions of bacon and ham, occasionally pausing to fling a scrap or two of what had recently been ambulatory swine to the ravenous pack of faithful hounds who seemingly accompanied this strange man wherever he traveled. Between munches and flings, Lee took quill pen in hand to inscribe a letter to General Horatio Gates furiously raging against their mutual superior, George Washington. “A certain man,” Lee scribbled hurriedly, “is damnably deficient.”
Lee wrote rapidly for a very good reason: All hell was breaking loose. To enjoy this breakfast (and perhaps more of the company of the tavern’s comely ladies), Lee had foolishly separated himself from his troops—troops he had long delayed bringing southward from New York state to reinforce Washington’s woefully depleted forces. Troops that were now busily heading for a semblance of safety across the ice-choked Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Only a handful of guards had accompanied Lee and his aide to the widow White’s tavern.
“You’re surrounded, you traitor, Lee!” came a shout from outside. “Surrender or forfeit your worthless life!” The startled Lee finished writing his last sentence, breaking his quill point as he did, and sprang from his seat. Falling to his knees, he peered out from the bottom of a nearby sill to view a squad of green-jacketed British dragoons, their muskets at the ready.
Lee could not be sure which one had shouted, but that was the least of his problems.
It was, in fact, twenty-two-year-old Cornet Banastre Tarleton, among the most capable and vicious men fighting under the Union Jack. Lee bolted from his table and scurried for safety just as the hard-faced Tarleton’s men unleashed a cascade of fire. Smoke and deafening thunder—and lead shot—filled the air. Several of Lee’s guards fell dead or wounded.
“Hide here!” screamed a barmaid. “Hide in my bed!”
“I’d die first!” shouted Lee, as his hounds growled and barked and ran about the house in panic. “I will fight to the last!”
“I’ll burn the house down! To the ground!” shouted Tarleton. “You have five minutes to surrender!”
Charles Lee’s last came very soon. But it ended with neither death nor victory. Now attired in his old blue coat and battered cock hat, his breeches spattered with grease, he merely shuffled out the tavern’s front door. His captors hustled him upon a horse and sounded a bugle as Charles Lee was led away to a British camp at Brunswick.
December 1776 Trenton, New Jersey
“What’s going on?” Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall questioned. The gruff, fifty-year-old “Hessian Lion” spoke no English. He spoke only war—and contempt for his Amerikanischen adversaries. Before him, he saw a body carried forward. Another Hessian soldier hobbled past him, assisted by two more grenadiers, blood still seeping freely from the bandages wrapped tightly just above his left knee.
“Another ambush, Colonel Rall. Corporal Schmidt killed. Shot straight through the heart. Private Keller wounded,” answered Lieutenant Andreas von Wiederholdt, who had recently begun to appear much older than his forty-four years. His soldiers could not venture a step outside this miserable village of Trenton without being fired upon by these rebel madmen. Even being within its limits offered little safety. A shot from the woods—blam!—might be fired into the back of an unsuspecting sentry patrolling Trenton’s outskirts. And what could anyone hope to do about it?
Wiederholdt and his men could no longer rest decently at night. They remained on constant alert, fitfully sleeping in their blue-and-black uniforms, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice and confront a patriot’s musket. The darkening bags under Wiederholdt’s eyes and the disheveled nature of his own once invariably neat, brass-buttoned uniform revealed that.
A column of men appeared on the horizon, on the road leading northward out of the town, but they were too far away to clearly identify. Was it the Americans? Daring to attack us directly? Wiederholdt’s bony face froze in fear. But now he noticed something—shafts of reflected sunlight danced about the head of each figure advancing toward him, emanating from the tall, pointed, polished brass helmet that each Hessian grenadier so proudly wore. It was, Wiederholdt now saw, merely Lieutenant Jakob Piel’s company trudging home from a fourteen-mile march to the British outpost at Princeton. A small, very relieved smile played across his thin lips.
Rall could not but help notice Wiederholdt’s cascading emotions. “Ha!” he joked to his subordinate. “You see Americans everywhere! Are you a soldier or an old woman?”
Wiederholdt silently accepted the insult. Who is Rall bluffing? he thought. He knows what’s going on; that it’s unsafe for messengers—or anyone—out there. These Americans hate us. They see us as invaders—oppressors. That’s why we have to send a hundred troops to guard a single messenger to Princeton!
But Wiederholdt was not about to maintain his silence about everything. “Colonel Rall,” he said deferentially, hoping not to agitate his commandant too much, “perhaps we should now move to fortify Trenton. I know Colonel von Donop has recommended erecting redoubts on both the upper end of town and along the river.”
“Donop!” snapped Rall. “Dummkopf! Let the Americans come! So much the better! If they dare to come we will have at them with our bayonets—and that will be the end of George Washington!”
December 1776 (George Washington’s headquarters) Outside the farmhouse of Robert Merrick Ten miles north of Trenton Falls Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Perhaps it would be the end of George Washington—and of his revolution.
Colonel Rall certainly thought Washington was on the ropes.
General Lee had thought so as well.
And so, though he hated to admit it, did Thomas Paine.
It was no comfortable Philadelphia print shop in which Paine now sat. Patriotism meant more than words to the English-born pamphleteer. At forty, he now wore the short brown jacket and feathered hat of his unit of the Philadelphia Associators militia, “The Flying Camp.”
Since August, Washington had done nothing but retreat. But while so many others had fled (only two days earlier he had been among those ordered to evacuate Fort Lee), Paine had remained and now, by flickering campfire light, employing the taut calfskin of a Continental Army drumhead as his desk, he scratched out the words of a new pamphlet. Hard circumstances demanded hard truths. Events mandated a call to action worthy of a sounding trumpet.
Normally, Tom Paine wrote slowly and painfully—but that was a luxury he could no longer afford. He paused—but only for his smallish hand to dip a sharpened quill once more into the blackness of his pewter inkpot. His piercing blue eyes ablaze, he rapidly composed word after word in the fine penmanship he had learned as a boy in England. Before long he’d completed his task.
“My good man! Come here!” Paine demanded of an army courier, a rough-hewn frontiersman from the Pennsylvania backwoods who was mounted atop a horse that looked like it had served with its rider in the French and Indian War. “I’m Thomas Paine. I hear you are bound for Philadelphia, to the Continental Congress.”
The courier stared blankly at Paine, who seemed a tad too excited for his tastes. He said nothing, but his horse flicked its tail—more out of habit than anything else. It was now too cold for flies—or any other sort of insect.
“Well, man? What is it?” Paine demanded, drawing out each syllable so this dimwit before him might better understand his simple question.
“Aye,” came the answer in a harsh Scotch-Irish brogue, “Philadelphia.”
“I mean to ride with you, soldier. I need to return to my print shop. To have something printed of importance to our cause. How fast can you ride?”
The messenger eyed Paine with contempt. “Fast enough for General Washington, sir,” he answered. He was clearly annoyed by this Paine fellow, whoever he was.
But Tom Paine didn’t care whom he offended. He wanted his words printed—while t...
Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated radio host and founder of TheBlaze, is the author of ten #1 bestselling books: An Inconvenient Book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense, Arguing with Idiots, The Christmas Sweater and The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book, The Overton Window, Broke, The 7, The Original Argument and Cowards. His other bestselling books include The Real America, The Snow Angel and Being George Washington. Beck is also the publisher of Mercury Ink, a publishing imprint (www.mercuryink.com) that, in conjunction with Simon & Schuster, released the #1 bestselling young adult novels Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 and Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen.
Glenn can be found on the web at www.glennbeck.com and www.theblaze.com.
I was encouraged to read this book because of the gaping hole in leadership internationally, nationally, and locally - whether in politics, education, business, or in the church. Simultaneous with my reading of this book I was interested in something that John Gardner (in an essay on leadership) pointed out, "When the United States was formed, the population stood at around 3 million. That 3 million produced at least six leaders of world class--Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton." Today we have a population 90 times larger than that and I can't name a single leader that comes close to the aforementioned six men. Along with Gardner I ask the question "Where are they?"
Therefore, my curiosity was piqued in reading this book to discover what we can learn from Washington's life - and whether we can truly produce great leaders today. One of the main points that Beck makes in the book early on is that "for America to achieve the greatness that George Washington achieved, we have to remember that it is achievable." In story after story Beck brings out some of the keys to great leadership - character (based on a strong faith in God and His good providence); putting others before self - especially what's best for the whole; having a vision for liberty and fighting for it; focusing on that which will last beyond us. In a nutshell Beck highlights Washington's character, trust, and honor in story after story and demonstrates how he united America around freedom so that we could be the best we could be.Read more ›
As a fan of Glenn Beck, I was eager to read his book about George Washington. I enjoyed it greatly despite its flaws. If anything, I want to support Glenn's anti-establishment foray into the world of media and publishing.
A couple of things I didn't like: 1. Jumping back and forth in time. I realize these were supposed to tell you the significance of certain events in the future and in some cases, they were well placed. But too much of a good thing... 2. Editing. Too much of a rush job. Sorry, Glenn, it's hard to take something serious that is grammatically incorrect. If you want to position yourself as a champion of history, you have to pay attention to your English. a. Inferred characteristics of George Washington that are admitted to be pure conjecture, that are not in his writings, letters or others' accounts.
What I DID like: 1. Action sequences showing the desperation of the full-breadth of the American revolution. I don't think I appreciated how tenuous it was even after the battles were done. 2. There is a definite change in voice that, while not completely in your face, does let you know that you are hearing Glenn's voice and not history's. 3. Points out areas that may be myths in our history because there is no verifiable proof. 4. Hard to put down. Incredibly interesting read.
I just bought this and so far, it reads as good as all of the rest of Beck's books! Please, PLEASE ignore these purpose driven 1 star reviews. They are written by fools that go from conservative author to conservative author giving them a 1 star reviews, bashing the author and moving on. They never read the books and it's obvious. I cannot understand the hate directed towards this man, he preaches honor, character, understanding and more importantly, he calls us all to go back to our Constitutional Roots. I'll finish this review when I am done, but 1/2 way through, it's great! I would also suggest "The Christmas Sweater", it has a spectacular message, especially for the young!
11/23/2011 Updated: Just finished and my five star rating is intact. This is a very good read, not Glenn's best, but still good enough to get a five star! No, George Washington did not have wooden teeth or chop down a cherry tree, but I continue to believe that God ordained George Washington to be our 1st great President and what a form to follow. It's too bad todays President's, Republican and Democrat both fall so terribly short of the high mark that George Washington created. But Glenn, you may be asking too much TODAY for many to be like George Washington, the media and current history seems to have made a real effort to wash his memory away... Thanks for another winner Glenn Beck!
I'm a big fan of History. Have read a lot of bio's over the years. This is an excellent read. Once you start, you won't want to stop. The book flows well. I suggest this as a must read for anybody interested in the man known as George Washington.
Riveting, educational, inspiring, accurate, and empowering. Rather than throwing dates and names at you (though it included both of course), "Being George Washington" tells a story that takes you back in time to smell, hear, see, feel, and taste the events. A great read for those who love history and those who don't but want to.
As always Glenn puts out ANOTHER product full of truth and history that has been deleted from our history books. Its safe to say that the BAD REVIEWS that he is getting again are coming from those that FEAR Glenn Beck. Check his history he is never wrong on what he says..... do YOUR OWN RESEARCH and check his facts for yourself. The propaganda that is put out from the left about GLENN ... just makes him stronger and more relevant to the true conservative base. Another good book....may I also suggest Arguing with Idiots ( full of facts and footnotes)! No matter what your personal view of Mr. Beck is... you cant argue with the research and facts that he always links. DONT LISTEN TO WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT BECK AND HIS BOOKS .... JUDGE FOR YOURSELF!
Glad to hear the TRUTH about our First President.... maybe one day we will hear and read the truth about THE CURRENT ONE... I doubt it ,as he has wiped the records already. ;)
IT IS ALSO VERY CLEAR THAT THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE REVIEWED THIS BOOK IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT...HAVENT READ IT! It's awesome!!! EVEN FOR THE BASIC FACTS WE WERE NEVER TAUGHT..... IT WAS WELL WRITTEN, ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE! Keep them coming Glenn...