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George Washington's War: The Forging of a Revolutionary Leader and the American Presidency Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140220406X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402204067
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Instead of offering a chronicle of maneuver and combat, this illuminating if deferential biography examines Washington’s far more trying difficulties off the battlefield. Historian Chadwick (The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film) focuses on the Continental Army’s travails during its winter encampments—not just the Valley Forge epic, but equally dire experiences at Morristown, N.J., during the winters of 1776-7 and 1779-80, which were a test of Washington’s political and administrative talents. Supplies had to be wheedled out of a do-nothing Continental Congress, fractious state governments and tight-fisted local farmers; hospitals and inoculations had to be supervised; recruits had to be trained—or at least persuaded not to mutiny over back pay or go home when their brief enlistments expired. Through it all, Chadwick says, Washington walked a tightrope between imposing the authoritarian measures needed to keep the Revolution alive and protecting the liberties it upheld. The author portrays Washington’s wartime experience as a schooling in democratic leadership, one that imparted truths about federalism and the need for a strong national government and Executive Branch that he would champion in the 1787 Constitution, as well as managerial precepts he would apply during his Presidency. At times, Chadwick’s admiration borders on reverence: he puts the best possible face on Washington’s ambivalence toward slavery, and is smitten with contemporary accounts of his "graceful" gestures and "majestic" walk. But Chadwick’s emphasis on logistics, organization and politics gives a more realistic view of the Revolutionary War than the usual narrative of campaigns and battles, and a more convincing measure of Washington’s achievement in leading it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Washington has not been praised as a military genius; troops under his direct command won only two major battles against the British, and his greatest tactical skill seems to have been in organizing retreats. Yet he is given--and deserves--the lion's share of credit for winning the military struggle. Chadwick is a former journalist who lectures in American history at Rutgers University. Effectively utilizing primary sources, he shows how Washington evolved into an inspirational leader who gradually adapted his tactics to meet the political and military needs of a prolonged struggle. In effect, Washington realized he could win by not losing, so the priority was to keep the army together. Chadwick covers familiar ground here, but he provides highly readable accounts of key battles. He is at his best, however, in tracking Washington's development as a military and political leader as he wages a two-front war against the British and against opponents in Congress. This is a fine addition to our understanding of the "indispensable man." Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By MARK SCOTT MOSTY on June 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I had the misfortune of reading this book immediately after finishing David Hackett Fischer's excellent book "Washington's Crossing" which is an in-depth look at the events surrounding the battles of Trenton and Princeton in the winter of '76. Picking up this book and reading the first chapter which covers the same period I was astonished by Chadwick's lack of understanding of the events that transpired, when compared to Fisher's analysis. I ended up scribbling corrections in the margins it was so off base. As an example, he reports the oft-quoted myth that the Hessians were drunk that morning when Fisher does a good job of dispelling that misconception. He reports Cornwallis' request to go home (later cancelled by Howe) as a measure of the British confidence and arrogance, when Fisher reports in detail that this decision was based on concern over Cornwallis's wife's health. Fisher makes a good argument that the Howes and Corwallis were actually sympathetic to American claims due to their Whig commonalities but Chadwick misses this concept completely. The list goes on. If you want to read a great analysis of revolutionary war history, read Fisher instead and skip this pap. Chadwick is compelled to add his PhD to the title page and cover... this this should have been a clue that this was a bad investment(...) of $25.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Cotton on April 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book should have been called "George Washington - The Man Who Kept the Revolution Going Winter after Winter". This book would have been perfect if it had had more battlefield descriptions, more strategy discussions. The only battle described in any detail was near the beginning in Trenton.

Monmouth and Yorktown are each given about a page description - ridiculous in a book this size which purports to describe the war. The first 150 pages are excellent, and then the reader is relegated to experience the boredom of winter camp in winter after winter. The job that Washington performed in keeping the army together while it was starving, naked, and not receiving pay was incredible, and this story does have an important place in history and the effect that it had on Washington and the country. This part of the story has its relevance to history and I applaud its inclusion in the book - but it shouldn't be the entire book (especially a book this size).

To get the best that this book offers, read the first 150 pages. They are interesting in every respect.

Then read pages 151-200 to get an idea of what Washington faced every winter.

Then skip to the 8-10 pages describing what happened with Benedict Arnold.

There has to be a better book out there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a solid introduction to the subject, but it needs editing and fact-checking should it go into a second edition.
Here are some examples.
When the author discusses Catherine Van Cortlandt's fate, along with that of other Loyalists, her husband is referred to by two different first names in the same sentence, or it could be his name and part of the place name "Morristown." It's really confusing. In defense of the author, it may be an egregious typo; part of the joys of computer-generated text.
"Scrip," i.e. money, is continually called "script."
"Shillings" are called "schillings." Maybe the folks at Morristown paid for goods with Austrian money - I don't know.
In any case, things like this should have been caught by an editor or proofreader.
The author's discussions of leadership and some of Washington's dealings with Loyalists are eerily parallel to events of today and are thought-provoking. The segment in the book on smallpox and disease and medicine in the Continental Army was especially interesting. Another insightful bit was that on newspapers and Washington's use of them to shape opinion.
In conclusion, you'll enjoy the book, but be careful of editing pitfalls.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Parchen on July 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What makes good history writers versus dull (bad) history writers is the ability to, through the written word, effectively communicate the writer's perspective, while at the same time entertaining the reader. Chadwick crams a lot of information but a lot of information does not necessarily make for a very enjoyable read. The author's plodding writing style, repeating of the same ideas, and the need to present as much detail information as possible is a book more along the lines of a PHD thesis. Even the chapters are broken into subchapters, as though the author were addressing a university facility group or class, as opposed to the general reader.
Stay away from this book. Read Leckie's Washington's War; an accurate, detailed, and at the same time enjoyable read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. M Mills on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
George Washington was a renaissance man! Planter and large land owner in tidewater Virginia (his estimated worth says Chadwick would be $75 million in today's currency). Surveyor.
Slave Owner, gambler (he loved to play cards far into the night)
and faithful (though sterile) husband to Martha.
Preeminently, though, Washington was a soldier and politician of immense skills. Washington was the commander of the continental army who won the Revolutionary War, became our first president and remains as an example to all Americans.
Chadwick discusses in great (sometimes tedious) detail the problems Washington faced during the war. Disease, starvation,
difficult officers, mutinies of the troops and combatting the British Army. Washington had to deal with a Congress whose ability to provision and arm the forces in the field left much too desire. Throughout the war Washington was able through his broad political skills to win alliances with local officials, governors and congressional officials to perserve to the ultimate victory in Yorktown.
As President of the U.S. Washington led to the formation of a strong federal government made our three branch government work
through strong and forceful leadership.
Chadwick has a somewhat dull matter of fact style but one comes away from a reading of this long book with a deep appreciation of all that the great Washington endured to make America a free nation.
The book is short on battlefield descriptions and very long on the events occuring during the winter encampments of the ragtag army at hellholes such as Valley Forge and Monmouth.
This is a good book for the general reader interested in expanding one's knowledge on our nation's first president.
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