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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all itâ?TMs still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The First Salute Paperback – September 6, 1989


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The First Salute + The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam + A Distant Mirror:  The Calamitous 14th Century
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 6, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345336674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345336675
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"In this brilliant slice of American Revolutionary history, Tuchman ( A Distant Mirror ; The Guns of August ) pits the 13 colonies against a rogues' gallery of British fools," wrote PW of this bestseller in cloth. "Expertly weaving political and military history, Tuchman lets you feel how Washington's victory at Yorktown sent shock waves around the globe." Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Tuchman's trademarks are here: trenchant observations and an exciting climax, in this case when Washington and Corwallis meet at Yorktown. But this work is not her best. The narration is loosely structured and at times repetitious; the chronology is sometimes confusing. In her first venture into American history, the popular historian highlights military and diplomatic turning points of the Revolution, focusing on European participation and its impact on the politics of the Dutch, French, and English. Despite its drawbacks, most libraries will want this Pulitzer Prize-winner's latest. BOMC main selection. Nancy C. Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Tuchman is at her best here, her writing tight and storytelling superb.
Chris
As for the rest of you, I don't think you'll be disappointed if you decide to give it a whirl, but to make up you're mind, let me tell you a little more.
Keith C Trinkle
As a history buff, this book is actually my favorite one on the American Revolution.
Mark H

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By David M. Sapadin on April 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'd like to say that Barbara Tuchman saved her best for last, and in many respects, she did. However there will be many out there who will not appreciate the slow build-up of The First Salute. Like a sailing schooner waiting for a breeze before finally being able to move, Ms. Tuchman's account of the American Revolution mirrors her main subjects - the French fleet, and that of the Englisman Sir George Brydges Rodney. More than once were they all stuck somewhere in their ships waiting (seemingly forever) for a wind so they could get underway. I felt like this book was waiting to get "under sail" too, mainly at the beginning. But I think you will find that not only is the wait worth it, but once you finish the book, you will realize just how brilliant the author really was in chosing this method to effectively drive home her points by clever use of point of view - Despite what Disney would have us belive, the Americans didn't rally to fighting or winning this war. Congress was as slow, and often made as little sense then as it seems to do from time to time now - Washington was a miracle worker for somehow keeping an army on the field at all. The American Revolution was won by French and Dutch money, and mainly the French military (yes it was fought by many brave Americans too, but there was too much apathy, too much self-interest, and there were too few in number to ever WIN it). Through the story of Rodney, the reader is given a unique perspective from which to witness the incredible mismanagement of the war by the British, insight into those self-destructive practices and entrenched egos that characterized monarchy, and just how close this war was to being lost and how easily it could have turned out differently. Tuchman also does not miss the chance to remind everyone just how far we still have to go to live up to those principles for which the war was supposedly fought - The end of her Epilogue will knock your socks off. All in all, another treasure from Barbara Tuchman.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on June 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Some of the greatest works of history are those that ask the simplest questions. In The First Salute Barbara Tuchman asks one of the most obvious of questions: How did England manage to lose the Revolutionary War? To answer the question, Tuchman leads us through a welter of 17th & 18th century European history. By the end of the book we find Britain's loss, paradoxically, both inevitable and avoidable.
The `first salute' was given by the Dutch owned West Indian port of St. Eustatius on November 16, 1776 in response to a salute given by the American brigantine Andrew Doria. It was a momentous moment, the first formal recognition of American as an independent nation.
Our esteem for the brave merchants of Holland is sorely tested by an early digression to explore Holland's confused and confusing diplomatic and political history. In the bibliography Tuchman refers to it as a "Dutch excursion," but "Dutch shanghai" would work just as well. Rather than leave it at "the Dutch had a history of war with Britain" and "their confused form of Republic government didn't help things" Tuchman devotes about forty pages to the Dutch, to their relations with their European neighbors, and to their confounded political system. Decisions like this are death to narrative histories, and Tuchman's wit and skill just barely redeems it.
For instance, that pithy wit takes this swipe at William III, duke of Orange, who "died childless in 1702, in a fall when his horse stumbled over a molehill, an obstacle that seems as if it should have some philosophical significance but, as far as can be seen, does not."
In due course Holland's overt and covert sympathetic attitude to the American rebels leads to a declaration of war by Britain.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Thinker on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tuchman's Guns of August and A Distant Mirror were two definitive works of European history, showing a historian at the full powers of her scholarship and thought. Unfortunately, Ms. Tuchman, in The First Salute, is obviously struggling either with creative exhaustion or simple lack of mastery of her material.

The book is diffuse and a bit chaotic - certainly I understand her premise: in telling the history of the Revolutionary War at sea, and its effect on the world itself, it is certainly necessary to detail preceding events - certainly the war of independence was not an isolated event, but one of a web of changing international conditions. But her scope is so ambitious, and her seeming energy and will to accomplish so weak, that I had the feeling of reading a pile of miscellaneous facts, some of them not particularly well researched, rather than a coherent discussion. Admiral Rodney, despite being sidelined during much of the conflict, is given a outsized portion of this book - we have details of his debts and his preoccupations which tell us why he was not there; relevant to an extent that it illustrates the British mishandling of leadership, but not worth page after page - in a book the scope and size of Distant Mirror, this may have been absorbed; in a book this size this admittedly nicely studied character dominates the book, without dominating the story.

My biggest bone to pick is her, and one that makes me suspect of the worth of many of her conclusions, is her poor knowledge of the 18th century navy - her discussion of conditions is obviously gathered more from hearsay research rather than the index of any historian's effort, checking its accuracy, basically repeating the same myths and half-truths that have been recycled through history books.
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