55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Timely narrative about America's struggle for independence,
This review is from: 1776 (Hardcover)
What topic could be more current than independence or the passionate desire that all men have for freedom? David McCullough brings his considerable literary talent to the fore in describing the fascinatingly pivotal year of 1776. Just one year in an eight year long armed conflict with Great Britain, but a year packed with precedent and momentous events that united the thirteen disparate colonies in a common cause.
This book focuses almost entirely on the actual armed struggle rather than the politics of that struggle. Very little is mentioned about the Continental Congress or any of the debates that took place there. All those men and their giant personalities remain on the periphery and instead we learn a great deal more about General George Washington, General Nathanael Green, Colonel Henry Knox, and to a lesser extent the commander of British forces, General William Howe. McCullough's narrative shows us--time and time again--the very human qualities and frailties possessed by these men. In the best of circumstance, war is basically a sustained period of unspeakable suffering, but for these patriots it was a time exacerbated by extreme inexperience, unseasonably harsh weather, shortages of food, muskets, gunpowder, clothing, shoes, and even pay. Poor knowledge of proper field sanitation and personal hygiene created perfect conditions for the growth and spread of deadly diseases. Smallpox flourished and actually plagued Washington's army without ceasing. Fully aware of these handicaps, Washington and his men were tasked to defeat a professional military force that bettered them in ever respect. The British land and sea forces were in fact the most powerful and successful military in the world at that time.
In spite of these overwhelming adversities, the men in this ragtag army gave all that they had for the cause of liberty and in the process these soldiers went from ordinary to extraordinary. This is a uniquely informative and compelling novel from one of America's premier historians. It is in fact a timeless story that deserves constant retelling and David McCullough has done wonderfully with this rendition.