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1776by David McCullough
Staying in the territory of his acclaimed epic biography John Adams, David McCullough follows George Washington and the Continental Army through the tumultuous first year of war. An exceptional narrative historian, McCullough vividly examines the characters and larger political and social developments that propelled the Revolution to produce a captivating, utterly readable portrait of the fight for independence.
Synopses & Reviews
In this stirring book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence — when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It 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 King's men, 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.
Here also is the Revolution as experienced by American Loyalists, Hessian mercenaries, politicians, preachers, traitors, spies, men and women of all kinds caught in the paths of war.
At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books — Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of winter.
But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost — Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.
The book begins in London on October 26, 1775, when His Majesty King George III went before Parliament to declare America in rebellion and to affirm his resolve to crush it. From there the story moves to the Siege of Boston and its astonishing outcome, then to New York, where British ships and British troops appear in numbers never imagined and the newly proclaimed Continental Army confronts the enemy for the first time. David McCullough's vivid rendering of the Battle of Brooklyn and the daring American escape that followed is a part of the book few readers will ever forget.
As the crucial weeks pass, defeat follows defeat, and in the long retreat across New Jersey, all hope seems gone, until Washington launches the "brilliant stroke" that will change history.
The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.
Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough's 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.
"Bestselling historian and two-time Pulitzer winner McCullough follows up John Adams by staying with America's founding, focusing on a year rather than an individual: a momentous 12 months in the fight for independence. How did a group of ragtag farmers defeat the world's greatest empire? As McCullough vividly shows, they did it with a great deal of suffering, determination, ingenuity — and, the author notes, luck.Although brief by McCullough's standards, this is a narrative tour de force, exhibiting all the hallmarks the author is known for: fascinating subject matter, expert research and detailed, graceful prose. Throughout, McCullough deftly captures both sides of the conflict. The British commander, Lord General Howe, perhaps not fully accepting that the rebellion could succeed, underestimated the Americans' ingenuity. In turn, the outclassed Americans used the cover of night, surprise and an abiding hunger for victory to astonishing effect. Henry Knox, for example, trekked 300 miles each way over harsh winter terrain to bring 120,000 pounds of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, enabling the Americans, in a stealthy nighttime advance, to seize Dorchester Heights, thus winning the whole city.Luck, McCullough writes, also played into the American cause — a vicious winter storm, for example, stalled a British counterattack at Boston, and twice Washington staged improbable, daring escapes when the war could have been lost. Similarly, McCullough says, the cruel northeaster in which Washington's troops famously crossed the Delaware was both 'a blessing and a curse.' McCullough keenly renders the harshness of the elements, the rampant disease and the constant supply shortfalls, from gunpowder to food, that affected morale on both sides — and it certainly didn't help the British that it took six weeks to relay news to and from London. Simply put, this is history writing at its best from one of its top practitioners. Agent, Morton Janklow. 1,250,000 first printing; BOMC and History Book Club main selections; Literary Guild and QPB featured alternates; 18-city author tour. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] lucid and lively work that will engage both Revolutionary War bores and general readers who have avoided the subject since their school days." New York Times
"In 1776, his dramatic recounting of the critical year in the American Revolution, historian David McCullough has found a way to tell American history's untellable story....1776 will surely be, and deservedly, one of this year's best-selling books." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"David McCullough, America's most celebrated popular historian, has done it again — written another engaging work of narrative history." Washington Post
"[A] short but highly engaging study." Wall Street Journal
"What McCullough has done here...is to take not just a piece of history but a well-traveled piece of history and render it anew." Newsday
"[A] classic — brilliantly written, scrupulously researched, tremendously informative and endlessly entertaining....With 1776, David McCullough has added another masterwork to his collection, one that is both informative and inspiring." Philadelphia Inquirer
"[F]luent and engaging....McCullough's brilliant work is a model for us all. In his unrivaled mastery of one part of the historian's task, we are all his students." Boston Globe
"One of the most compelling nonfiction works McCullough has written and should be required reading in living rooms from coast to coast." Denver Post
"McCullough employs his formidable talent for narrative without unnecessarily repeating what has already been said many times." Providence Journal
"[A] gripping read: readable, even thrilling popular history, and a graphic reminder of the parlous circumstances that attended the birth of this nation." Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times
"Though there is nary a dull moment in this breezy book, 1776 amounts to a deeply unsatisfying account of both a fascinating man and a pivotal historical moment....[A] deliciously readable book that leaves you famished for philosophical context. (Grade: B-)" Entertainment Weekly
Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Truman and John Adams, McCullough returns with the story of the Revolutionary War — a book certain to be another landmark in the literature of American history.
About the Author
David McCullough has been called a "master of the art of narrative history." His books have been praised for their exceptional narrative sweep, their scholarship and insight into American life, and for their literary distinction.
In the words of the citation accompanying his honorary degree from Yale, "As an historian, he paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breath, and above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character."
Author of 1776, John Adams, Truman, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, and Brave Companions, he has received the Pulitzer Prize twice (in 1993, for Truman, and, in 2001, for John Adams), the Francis Parkman Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and has twice won the National Book Award.
For his work overall he has been honored by the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal, the St. Louis Literary Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, and the New York Public Library's Literary Lion Award. None of his books has ever been out of print.
In a crowded, productive career, Mr. McCullough has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer, and familiar presence on public television — as host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, and narrator of numerous documentaries including The Civil War and Napoleon. He is a past president of the Society of American Historians. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received 31 honorary degrees.
A gifted speaker, Mr. McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House, as part of the White House presidential lecture series. He is also one of the few private citizens to be asked to speak before a joint session of Congress.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1933, Mr. McCullough was educated there and at Yale, where he was graduated with honors in English literature. An avid reader, traveler, and landscape painter, he lives in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, with his wife Rosalee Barnes McCullough. They have five children and 15 grandchildren.
Table of Contents
Part I: The Siege
Chapter One: Sovereign Duty
Chapter Two: Rabble in Arms
Chapter Three: Dorchester Heights
Part II: Fateful Summer
Chapter Four: The Lines Are Drawn
Chapter Five: Field of Battle
Part III: The Long Retreat
Chapter Six: Fortune Frowns
Chapter Seven: Darkest Hour
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