Synopses & Reviews
The image of the Baron de Steuben training Washington's ragged, demoralized troops in the snow at Valley Forge is part of the iconography of our Revolutionary heritage, but most history fans know little more about this fascinating figure.
In the first book on Steuben since 1937, Paul Lockhart, an expert in European military history, finally explains the significance of Steuben's military experience in Europe. Steeped in the traditions of the Prussian army of Frederick the Great—the most ruthlessly effective in Europe—he taught the soldiers of the Continental Army how to fight like Europeans. His guiding hand shaped the army that triumphed over the British at Monmouth, Stony Point, and Yorktown. And his influence did not end with the Revolution. Steuben was instrumental in creating West Point, and in writing the "Blue Book"—the first official regulations of the American army. His principles have guided the American armed forces to this day.
Steuben's life is also a classic immigrant story. A failure in midlife, he uprooted himself from his native Europe to seek one last chance at glory and fame in the New World. In America he managed to reinvent himself—making his background quite a bit more glamorous than was the reality—but redeeming himself by his exceptional service and becoming, in a sense, the man he claimed to be.
“The author generally treats [Steuben] with balance, understanding and great good humor.” Wall Street Journal
[A] biography that delves into more detail about the man than any other piece of literature to date. Quincy Patriot Ledger
“At last, a good look at a great man. Paul Lockhart clears up all the puzzles of Steubens early life. He also tells an archetypal American story: an immigrant, ambitious, blustering, insecure, who gives his talents and his passion to his new-found home.” Richard Brookhiser, author of George Washington on Leadership
“Paul Lockhart not only tells us the forgotten story of how this German volunteer transformed the American army. He has also made him an appealing human being. This is an important book for anyone interested in the American Revolution.” Thomas Fleming, author of The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survival After Yorktown
“Baron de Steuben has finally found the biographer he so richly deservesand what a terrific biography this issplendidly written with narrative sweep, deeply researched with colorful details that bring the Baron to vivid life. Doris Kearns Goodwin
“Lockhart writes a lively, incisive biography that exposes the inner workings of the Barons mind and highlights the critical role that he played in winning the Revolutionary War.” Edward Lengel, author of THIS GLORIOUS STRUGGLE
“[An] informative biography. . . . Even readers who care little about the details of Revolutionary War battles may well find Steubens maneuvers captivating. . . . Unusually well-written. . . with incisive character sketches of Washington, Jefferson, and other patriots complementing Lockharts full-blooded portrait of Steuben.” Kirkus Reviews
Lockhart makes solid use of primary and secondary sources to present a more complete picture of the Continental Armys inspector-general. Publishers Weekly
This entertaining, enlightening, and objective volume is highly recommended.” Library Journal
“A terrific biography….The dramatic story of how the American army that beat the British was forged has never been better told than in this remarkable book.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York Times bestselling author of Team of Rivals
The true story of the Baron de Steuben and the making of the American Army, The Drillmaster of Valley Forge is the first biography in half a century of the immigrant Prussian soldier who molded George Washingtons ragged, demoralized troops into the fighting force that eventually triumphed in Americas War of Independence. Praised by renowned historian Thomas Fleming as “an important book for anyone interested in the American Revolution,” The Drillmaster of Valley Forge rights a historical wrong by finally giving a forgotten hero his well-deserved due.
About the Author
Paul Lockhart is a professor of history at Wright State University, where he teaches European and military history. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.