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1776 by David McCullough

1776 (edition 2005)

by David McCullough

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A narrative of the American Revolution as told from Washington's viewpoint. McCullough points out that the British were not the fools they are commonly portrayed to be; indeed, they out-generaled Washington on Long Island. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
Incredible and detailed storyline of the unbelievable obstacles and Divine protection over those who were fighting against all odds for the independence of our nation. ( )
  StanLubeck | Dec 28, 2013 |
58. 1776 by David G. McCullough ( who also narrated) (2005, 400 pages in paper form, listened Nov 4 - 18)

Another audio, and another very good one. McCullough reads this one himself, very nicely. The lesson I learned is that I know nothing about the actual war part of the American Revolutionary War . The book only covers part of the war, from late 1775, shortly after the Battle of Bunker Hill, to the end of 1776 when Washington crossed the Delaware (the only part of the book familiar to me).

What happened then, you say? Besides the Delaware, this stuff in this book is, I think, pretty obscure stuff. In brief, the colonials have a sort of successful siege of Boston and finally declared independence. Then they are routed in New York, and again at Ft. Washington and the army dissolves to few thousand men. And then Washington crossed the Delaware and...McCullough argues that never has such a small event by such a small number of people had such a world changing impact. The victory was impressive but should have been insignificant. The impact was the effect it had on attitudes of the colonials, the English and of France.

And then the book stops. We don't get to Valley Forge, or the French and the marquis de La Fayette, or the end. I was surprised to find Alexander Hamilton covered in I think a single sentence. (And now I really want to go learn the rest. )

McCullough does such a great job bringing this to stuff to life. I felt the tension of the dissolving colonial army, where whole units would walk away at critical times because their contracts were up and the stress of wondering what to do. And Washington comes across wonderfully.

George Washington is the hero and center of the book. Unqualified, under-experienced, arrogant but humble to realities, and flawed in many ways, he perseveres by staying and expressing calm and composure, by realizing his limitations and those of his army, by his ability to learn on the way, and by having an excellent sense of people. With no qualified military leaders, he hand-selected Henry Knox almost out of the blue to be his artillery man, and he probably could not have found anyone better. When Nathanael Greene's misjudgment caused a huge military defeat at Fort Washington, Washington responds by protecting him from criticism, keeping his best and most careful general in his job.

One episode particularly moved me. The ragged remnant the defeated colonial army is retreating across New Jersey and confidence in Washington at it’s lowest point. It was his darkest moment. Then Washington, apparently unaware a letter was private, opened a letter between maybe his closest friend and general Charles Lee. Lee was his best qualified and most arrogant general. The letter blasts Washington as a poor general in need of replacement by Lee...in agreement with this close friend of his. Freshly exposed that he has been undermined by about his closest friend, what must Washington have felt? What should he do about the letter? He wrote a note of apology for opening the letter, resealed it and sent it on…

The review can be found on my LT thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/160515#4396607 ( )
3 vote dchaikin | Dec 7, 2013 |
Superb. You are dragged through every trench, over every mud steeped mile and holed up in every drenched tent. A stunning portrayal of just one year that is clear, concise and accessible, especially to those who do not usually dable in military history. ( )
  Kate_Ward | Nov 12, 2013 |
In 1776, America went to war with the British to gain its independence. Led by General George Washington, who had never actually led an army in battle, the ragtag colonial troops were composed of men from all walks of life. Throughout the year, as one battle followed another, the Americans enjoyed incredible luck and suffered terrible blows in their efforts against the British army. In painstaking detail, historian David McCullough chronicles the first year of the American Revolution from the perspective of both the American and the British perspectives, and how close the revolution came to failing during that critical period.

This is an intensely focused book. I thought it would talk rather generally about life in America in 1776, but the narrative is strictly interested in the war effort. Individual stories are told, with fragments of letters written by George Washington, at the top of the command chain, to humble soldiers who were farmers and schoolteachers – but everything ultimately relates back to the war in some way. Events from earlier years, like the Stamp Act, are not mentioned because they fall outside the realm of 1776. Likewise, to learn about the war in later years the reader must look to other sources. (Spoiler: America officially gained its independence in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris.) But if the reader wants to know about pivotal confrontations like the Battle of Dorchester Heights, the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of Trenton – well, it's all here.

Military detail abounds; political events are somewhat glossed over. Considering 1776 was written as a companion to McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning John Adams, I guess that isn't a surprise. But with so much of the war's context removed from the narrative, the book assumes a fair amount of prior knowledge about the American Revolution. I think that for most Americans, who (theoretically) have been drilled in the war both in 8th and 11th grade, there is enough background to support this assumption, but I would imagine the book could be quite confusing for a reader new to the subject, especially if he or she didn't grow up in the United States.

I listened to this as an audio book, and in retrospect I don't think this was the best way to approach McCullough's work. I would have benefited immensely from a few maps, especially when he was describing the battles themselves. As it was, the reading was a bit dry and I listened to a couple of passages multiple times because I noticed I was starting to tune the narrator (the author himself) out, though I really tried to pay attention. ( )
1 vote makaiju | Oct 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)

In his exhaustively researched and highly accessible new book, "1776," best-selling historian David McCullough (two-time Pulitzer winner for "John Adams" and "Truman") follows the Continental Army through a single, fateful year, one filled with surprise victories, stunning reversals, perilous midnight retreats and pure, grind-it-out perseverance. It's a story filled with drama, and McCullough shows himself once again to be among our nation's great storytellers.
In his new book, ''1776,'' David McCullough brings to bear on this momentous year the narrative gifts he's demonstrated in such absorbing histories as ''The Great Bridge'' and ''The Path Between the Seas.'' As a history of the American Revolution, it is an oddly truncated volume: pivotal developments leading to the revolution like the Stamp Act, which happen to fall outside the perimeters of Mr. McCullough's rigid time frame, are not examined, and subsequent installments of the war (which would continue on after the Trenton-Princeton campaign for another half-dozen harrowing years) are ignored as well.
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Perserverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages. -General George Washington
For Rosalee Barnes McCullough
First words
"On the afternoon of Thursday, October 26, 1775, His Royal Majesty George III, King of England, rode in royal splendor from St. James's Palace to the Palace of Westminster, there to address the opening of Parliament on the increasingly distressing issue of war in America."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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http://lccn.loc.gov/2005042505 . Please distinguish between this original David McCullough work, 1776, and the 2007 abridgment, 1776: The Illustrated Edition. Thank you.
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David MCullough brings this monumental period in American history to life - I can't put this book down! Having grown up in Boston and now living in New York, Mr. McCullough's use of quotes and writings brings me even closer to the places I've called home.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743226720, Paperback)

Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold off the world's greatest army. He also effectively explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton was magnified despite its limited strategic importance.

Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian. --Shawn Carkonen

The Other 1776

With his riveting, enlightening accounts of subjects from Johnstown Flood to John Adams, David McCullough has become the historian that Americans look to most to tell us our own story. In his Amazon.com interview, McCullough explains why he turned in his new book from the political battles of the Revolution to the battles on the ground, and he marvels at some of his favorite young citizen soldiers who fought alongside the remarkable General Washington.

The Essential David McCullough
John Adams
Mornings on Horseback
The Path Between the Seas
The Great Bridge
The Johnstown Flood

More Reading on the Revolution
The Great Improvisation by Stacy Schiff
Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
Washington's General by Terry Golway
Iron Tears by Stanley Weintraub
Victory at Yorktown by Richard M. Ketchum

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:43 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost -- Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Five editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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