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Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution Hardcover – December 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (December 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805070664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805070668
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Born into a prosperous Quaker family in Rhode Island, Greene (1742–1786) had no formal education and remained at his family's forge into his 30s, when he abruptly abjured pacifism as the Revolution gathered steam. Through thorough research, Golway (So Others Might Live: A History of New York's Bravest), who has written for American Heritage, makes Greene's numerous and complex accomplishments accessible, committing few excesses of patriotism (and fewer of psychobiography). From the Revolution's earliest stages, Greene was appointed commanding general of the Rhode Island contingent in the Patriots' siege of Boston; Golway shows him as one of Washington's most trusted subordinates, with a mixed record as a field commander and a good one as a very reluctant quartermaster-general (a job that made making bricks without straw look simple). In the war's darkest days, in late 1780, Greene was appointed commander in the Southern theater, where the British had nearly swept all before them. Without ever winning a major battle, Greene, Golway shows, kept his army in the field, supported Patriot militias and suppressed Tory ones, undercut British logistics, eventually forced Cornwallis north to Yorktown and besieged Charleston. Along the way he married and had a lively family life, became a slave-owner (through owning land in Georgia) and then died of sunstroke and asthma. Golway makes a convincing case that Greene should be better known. (Feb. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Nathanael Greene's historical fame arises from his thwarting of Britain's southern campaign in 1780-81 during the War of Independence. Since the appearance of the previous comprehensive biography more than four decades ago, scholars have collected and published Greene's papers, a project that works to this author's advantage in giving an intimate impression of Greene's qualities, both positive and negative. Much of his correspondence to his wife survives (though hers to him doesn't), enabling Golway to narrate Greene's performance in the battles and campaigns of the war, in most of which he participated. Before the war, Greene was apparently politically inert but became radicalized over British depredations that damaged his Rhode Island enterprises. Although Golway is always attentive to Greene's personal interests (and alludes to Greene's possible embezzlement while quartermaster general of the army), Greene did acquire a nationalist outlook and in fact relocated to the South after the war, albeit to become a slaveholding plantation owner. In a solidly sourced, evenhanded portrait, Golway gives readers a Greene with faults but also with the military strengths on which George Washington relied. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

The book flows smoothly and is a very entertaining read.
Michael Taylor
Men such as Greene were instrumental in winning the Revolution and overcoming the very real and great obstacles to fighting a successful war against the British.
JAG 2.0
This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the Revolution and our nation's founding.
David W. Nicholas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Howard Schulman on September 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why a magazine columnist from New Jersey would choose to write about Rhode Island's unsung Revolutionary War hero is beyond me, but I'm sure glad he did. To me, it's quite clear that Greene was never adequately recognized for his wartime accomplishments because he died unexpectedly in 1786 of a stroke at age 44 and never had the chance to participate and obtain fame in the founding of the new nation.

Who knows where events would have lead had he lived. He clearly had Washington's utmost respect and gratitude, and he demonstrated the highest integrity, leadership, dedication, competency, determination, and ability to get things done during times of great stress and deprivation.

Nathanael Greene's "Southern Campaign" is probably the most under appreciated aspect of the War in the books coming out today. The recent best sellers "1776" by McCullough and Pulitzer Prize-winning "Washington's Crossing" by Fisher seem to imply that after the surprise victories at Trenton and Princeton the war was all over, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

The next several years were dismal (the winter at Valley Forge was 1777-8), and it wasn't until the war later moved into the South and Greene assumed control that the colonialist learned how to defeat the British--inflict punishment, lead the British away from their supplies, and then retreat into the woods. This was Greene's strategy, and he executed it with utmost ability and skill. This is why a battered Cornwallis headed to Yorktown, to get desperately needed supplies. Washington had the personal touch, but Greene got things done, and Washington knew it and appreciated it. Everyone knew that if Washington was injured, Greene would take over.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By P. Microulis on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Years ago I attended Nathanael Greene Elementary School in Pawtucket, RI, but it is only now that I can see I know anything of substance about a man who can claim a great deal of responsibility for the favorable concluding of our Revolutionary War.

The author presents, if in a manner occasionally lacking direction, a photograph on a Revolutionary Hero whose fall to the second or third tier of Founder status was certainly not due to his ability, his efforts or his promise. His portrayal is of a common man of the period - constantly concerned with his finances (as were all those we count as leaders of the Independence effort); very guarded and jealous about his reputation (another common trait among these folk); but clearly fallen on one side of the fence dividing Tories and Revolutionaries.

Greene's escapades thru the Carolinas and Virginia, and the cat and mouse game he played with British General Cornwallis, gave the rebels the opportunity to win the war. Without these accomplishments, the British might have indeed, as Washington worried, gain command of the southern colonies, and with that foothold, move their way northward. Instead, Greene's dance led them in a variety of different directions, and ultimately to their fate at Yorktown.

The author has captured in his portrayal of Greene, the marks of a hero, and the flaws and failings of a man. His accounts of Greene's quarrels with Congress, his unwavering pit-bull defense of Washington, and his arguments with, among others, John Adams, color the general as a man of conviction, if not always grace. At the same time, the author shows the easily bruised ego, the roving eye for financial opportunities, and the man who cannot say NO to his beautiful young wife.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Gaines VINE VOICE on July 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terry Golway's "Washington's General" is a marvelous piece of history written in the same manner as McCullough's "1776", in which Golway pays tribute to the most important figure in American history behind Washington.
In Golway's arousing and commanding writting style we are transported through history to a time that seemed as if there was little hope for the vision of independence held by Washington and Greene.
Through Greene's Quaker religious upbringing and sparse education, we see the developing stages of a man who would go on to lead the American Republic through the trials and tribulations of a new political idealogy.
Though Greene was stigmatised by critical condemnation, his unyielding dedication to Washington and the cause of liberty elavated him above those who espoused the elements of a new republic but lacked the self sacrifice that requires victory.
Greene accomplished and sacrificed much for the new Republic from his assigned duties as Quarter Master General of the Contental Army, which he lothed, saving the starving army of Valley Forge and Jocky Hollow with his adminstrative skills and underming the Conway cable who sought to undermine Washington at a time that questioned his abilities to lead the army to the victories it so strived to achieve.
Greene lead the victory with brilliant hit and run strategy of the southern campaigns that brought an end to Cornwallis's expedition through the Carolina's and his eventual surrender at Yorktown.
There is much to learn about a true unsung hero of the American Republic and with Golway's exuberant storytelling Nathanel Greene's historic legacy has been brought to its rightful forefront of American History. Brilliant, rewarding and insightfull.............
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