Elegant, Deep Detail on the Year and the First Battles,
This is a moving book with exactly the right amount of white space, easy to read, yet deeply detailed about key personalities and key battles. For the first time, I understand with awe the degree to which tens of thousands of mixed Americans were able to mobilize, fight, move cannons weighing over a ton along hundreds of miles, construct earthworks (British General Howe on the works at Dorchester Heights: “these fellows have done more work in one night than I could make my army do in three months.”), survive disease, drink a bottle of rum per day per man, and on balance, make the miracle of the Republic.
The author tells the story with a light hand, and among the points I found especially noteworthy were his comparison of the speed with which good ideas from the ranks made their way to General Washington, unencumbered by the bureaucracy of the British military; and Washington’s appreciation for intelligence and Washington’s constant focus on the mind of his counterpart and what that counterpart might be thinking.
It also merits comment that the original revolution sought only to be afforded the rights due an Englishman, not Independence, and it was the heavy-handed actions of King George that led the original American leaders to take the final step of full treason (which, if you win, is not treason, but cause for celebration).
The acknowledgements and the notes are themselves worthy of careful study, for the author appears to have meticulously combed through every possible archive, and hence, he not only provides a walk through a year of American history–*the* year–but also a record of where the pages of that history are archived and honored around the world.
I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon, at 1600 on the 4th of July 2005. There is no finer manner in which I could have spent the eve and the day on which we celebrate the ideals that led to Independence. I only pray that we cast off the immoral capitalism and support for 44 dictators around the world–many of them practicing genocide–and return to the ideals of these great early Patriots.