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Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War Paperback – May 15, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; First edition (May 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805061231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805061239
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

An exciting and richly detailed narrative history of the events leading up to the decisive battle that altered the course of the American war for independence. Distinguished historian Ketchum (The Borrowed Years: 19381941, etc.) uses a wide range of primary and secondary sources to vividly depict this extraordinary drama. When ``Gentleman Johnny'' Burgoyne's feared army of British and German veterans invaded New York, intending to meet up with General Howe's forces, they seemed at first unstoppable. Burgoyne's fierce (and uncontrollable) Indian allies terrorized the countryside, killing civilians and burning and looting outlying settlements. The settlers (some of them previously lukewarm about the revolution) were forced to unite to defend their lives, families, and homes. The Americans soundly defeated the forces of the king at the fierce battles of Bennington and Fort Stanwix. At the same time, a merciless civil war between loyalists and rebels was being fought out in a series of small, vicious engagements. Burgoyne's logistical problems (he was compelled to drag mountains of equipment and supplies over narrow, primitive roads in unfamiliar country) and constant casualties served to weaken his seemingly invincible army. His exhausted forces were finally surrounded at Saratoga, and in the ensuing battle the Americans won a great victory under the courageous leadership of Benedict Arnold, Dan Morgan, and John Glover. Burgoyne's stunning surrender of his 6,000-man army brought a reassured France into the war on the side of the Americans, a move that would prove decisive. With clear, vigorous prose and well-drawn portraits of famous and obscure personalities, Ketchum captures a stirring time in American history, producing what should be the definitive study of Burgoyne's defeat for many years to come. (8 pages b&w illustrations, not seen) (History Book Club alternate selection) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This is superbly researched, full-scale narrative history at its best." (David McCullough)

“More than a brilliant, gripping account of one of history’s most important battles; it is a vivid, needed reminder of how hard-fought, gritty, sweat-soaked, god-awful, heroic, and all-important was the American War. Like Shelby Foote unfolding the drama of the Civil War, Richard M. Ketchum writes of the Revolution as if he had been there . . . No novelist could create characters more memorable than the protagonists on both the American and British sides . . . This is superbly researched, full-scale narrative history at its best.”—David McCullough, author of John Adams

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Customer Reviews

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I thoroughly loved reading this book, at no time did it get bogged down or boring.
Aussie Reader
A great time line on The Battle of Saratoga from the British invasion from Canada until the surrender.
carol a. hulsebosch
This book details these events in a way that gives the reader a real sense of what happened.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David H. Schmick on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
With all of the buzz in historical circles about the works of McCullough and Morris, it seems there are current authors who are not recognized for the fine work they do. Ketcham is one such author.
This is a superb account of the campaign which truly broke England's hold on the American colonies. There are several distinguishing aspects in this being the amount of information presented concerning the English view of the campaign. Most American historians seem to accentuate only the American side, however, the inclusiveness of Ketcham's account in terms of English plans and execution adds much to what could have been just an account from the colonial perspective. My wife and I had the opportunity to tour the battlefield this past summer and this really fleshed out what we experienced during our trip.
Ketcham's account of the role played by Native Americans in this series of battles is also a revelation. This book is totally accessible to anyone regardless of their historical background. I would compare this book in quality to the recent biographies of John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt. If you are at all interested in the colonial period or the American Revolution, I would definitely commend this book to you. We are so lucky to be living in a time when so many great histories and biographies are so readily available.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ketchum writes a detailed history of Saratoga and the events leading to the battle drawing largely from the correspondence of the soldiers who fought the battle. As such, "Saratoga" gives a detailed, participants' view of the battle. At this level, the work is enthralling, tense and a book which is difficult to put down.
Shortcomings exist in several areas. First, the maps are weak. The text is detailed and makes reference to many points which are difficult or impossible to discern from the maps in the test. Moreover, given a battle so dependant on terrain, terrain is poorly illustrated on most of the maps.
Second, Ketchum is weak on the sumary of the battles and skirmishes. On the major actions the impacts are clear, yet on some of the minor actions, the results are less clear.
Left unexplained is the success of the Indian groups fighting with the British. Indian actions against American troops seemed singularly successful. It is unexplained why the Indians were so successful as well as how the Americans countered.
Finally, while it is clear that Burgoyne's failure at Saratoga may have insured the success of the Revolution, it is less than clear whether Burgoyne's success would have insured Britsh success in holding the colonies. On finishing the book one is left with something of the feeling that comes at the end of Fitgerald's "Fire in the Lake": Battles may be won by the British, but the war was lost at the start.
In the end, Ketchum's greatest success lies in illustrating the committment and fervor of the individual American to obtaining independence.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Scott Langworthy on April 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book when it first came out and was enthralled. I happen to live in the Lake Goerge/Saratoga region, and know the surroundings he describes VERY well. I have visited many of the sites mentioned in the text. Believe me, his perspective on the landscpapes, and the hardships of travel in this locality are very accurate.

Like many reviewers comments, he has a way of description that brings the pages to life. The struggle and turmoil of the local people invloved and their undecided nature was well written.

How the locals in the region took to this invasion from the north, and how they eventually rallied just in time to thwart their advance at (old) Saratoga was right on the money.

Surprisingly, the Parks, and Historical sites that remain today, as well as some of the "areas" left somewhat untouched by history, still give one the sense of wonder. If you find it incredible how these armies could advance through some of the terrain he describes, you would be twice as surprised by actually seeing it as I have.

As I read this narrative, I was fortunate that I could place myself exactly where he describes the campaign and visualize from his text and my own perspective from visits I have made. I could tell that this author had been here before.

I met the author in Glens Falls, NY right in the "heart" of the region he describes, and found him to be as graceful in person as he is on the written page. A true historian. Books on the Revolutionary War are not known to be written with the "glamour" and tenacity of the Civil War, but his treatment will, and has changed that.

We always read about how people in the Civil War felt from their own writings.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karl on May 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
Excellent book, trust me! ... Someday, after a long lifetime of mostly nonfiction reading, I'll look back on this one and say Ketchum's Saratoga is one of the gems I would really regret having missed ... If any of you readers out there knows of any other such treasures in this topic (American Revolution) as this one, please let me know.
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