From School Library Journal
Gr 5-9–Murphy lays out the stakes in this well-known story immediately: the fate of the revolution and the country itself rested with the man chosen to lead the Continental Army. He centers the story on Washington, arguing that the early battles in and around New York and New Jersey transformed him from an inexperienced if well-respected military leader into a formidable commander and strategist. Whereas purely chronological histories drag readers' attention from one theater of war to another, Murphy concentrates on the troops directly under Washington's command in the events leading up to the battles of Trenton and Princeton, so that each step or misstep is as riveting as if readers were following at the heels of “the old fox.” When the tide turns in the Patriots' favor, it is with a sense of relief rather than as a fait accompli. Illustrations include reproductions of portraits and several good, clear maps showing battlefields and troop movements. An especially effective spread of Washington Crossing the Delaware is followed by an analysis of the artist's theme of America's diverse people fighting for freedom against all odds. The time line and index are thorough, and the list of websites is comprehensive. Notes and sources, instead of listed chapter by chapter, are listed “in order of importance.” A first purchase, even if your American Revolution shelves are packed.–Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Leutze’s familiar painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, graces the cover of Murphy’s latest book, but the story begins before that dramatic event, when the Second Continental Congress appoints Washington to lead the army in June 1775. Profoundly aware of his personal limitations as a commander, Washington struggles to turn his initially unruly officers and troops into a well-disciplined fighting force before the formidable British army brings the war—and the young country—to an untimely end. Focusing on the Continental army’s progress from Washington’s appointment through the Battle of Princeton in January 1777, this book recounts military events, setbacks, and successes as the tide of the war slowly began to turn. Printed in relatively large type with wide-spaced lines, the text is clearly written and makes very good use of quotes. Text and illustrations, including maps and reproductions of period paintings and documents, are printed in shades of brown. Though sources are not provided for individual quotes, the excellent back matter includes a discussion of Leutze’s iconic painting, a time line of the Revolution, a list of Internet sites, and a lengthy partial list of books consulted. Murphy offers a refreshingly frank, vivid, well-researched account of a pivotal time in American history. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan