Washington's Crossing
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Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  6,689 ratings  ·  259 reviews
Six months after Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost 90 percent of his army, and was driven across the Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states. As the author recounts in this riveti...more
Hardcover, 564 pages
Published February 12th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published December 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Matt
Despite a great love of history, I’ve never been able to really connect to the American Revolution as a historical event. The reason, I think, is that the Revolutionary War is our creation myth. Like other creation myths, such as the Christmas Story (the one with Jesus, not the BB gun), historical veracity and the exact sequence of events is not as important as the fact that event happened at all. Rigorous analysis takes a backseat to emotional considerations. Objectivity is shrouded in the mist...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 12, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every American
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - History
Less than two weeks ago I read David McCullough's 1776, a history of the first year of the Continental Army under George Washington, its mixed success in Boston and disaster in New York City and culminating--after a night crossing of the Delaware River--in their victory in the Battle of Trenton. It was an engaging, well-told story of such suffering and such blunders I left that book amazed the American Revolution, the army and cause survived to triumph. This book covers much of the same territor...more
David
Almost everyone knows the famous painting of General Washington standing heroically in a shallow boat, surrounded by soldiers in a variety of garb including James Madison holding an American flag, crossing the ice-choked Delaware river. The painting, done by a German artist 75 years after the fact, is a pretty romanticized depiction of the event. But there's no debating the significance of what happened on that Christmas Day 1776. This book, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History, is a re...more
Frank Stein

A rare and impressive example of a modern academic doing military history, and doing it well.

Yet clearly part of the reason Fischer wrote this book was to provide a kind of on-the-ground justification for his earlier work of social and cultural history, "Albion's Seed," where he discovered four major "folkways" in America which he thought descended from four separate waves of migration. Sure enough, he finds similar divisions here, such as that between the "ordered liberty" of the New England re...more
Christopher Sturcke
Simply browsing the title, table of contents, and some reviews potential readers may fall into the trap of thinking that this book is too similar to David McCullough’s 1776 to justify reading it. However, this assumption isn’t correct. While both stories follow Washington’s army through the fall of New York and conclude with the battles of Trenton and Princeton, Fischer’s focus is different than McCullough’s. McCullough’s main focus was on Washington’s army throughout the entire year of 1776 st...more
Jason
Part of the Oxford Pivotal Moments in American History series, Fischer's work is a cultural history surrounding the events that Washington's Revolutionary Army participated in from March of 1776 to March of 1777, with the middle of the book focusing on the pivotal turning point of the unlikely capture of the Hessian garrison in Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas of 1776, made famous by the painting featured on the cover of the book.

Fischer's book was published at nearly the same time as McCullough...more
Gary Hoggatt
I've been reading a lot of American Revolutionary history lately, and even so, David Hackett Fischer's 2003 volume Washington's Crossing, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history, stands out as excellent. Much like David McCullough's fantastic 1776, Washington's Crossing focuses in on a narrow portion of the Revolutionary War and brings it to vivid life.

Washington's Crossing is devoted to an in-depth look at the New Jersey campaign of the winter of 1776-1777. However, Fischer doesn't just dump y...more
Don
Washington’s Crossing is one of those tomes that every American citizen should read. It’s very well paced with an inclusive narrative that places the reader squarely in the action. This book is so well written, I found myself under the mistaken impression that Fischer had actually interviewed the participants and their first generation relations. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. This is not only a good read for history buffs, it’s revealing of the subdural attitude, for better...more
Joe
This book is so far, my personal favorite. I wasn't 10 pages into it when I realized I was really going to enjoy this book. David Fischer won the Pulitzer prize for History for it, and I can see why. The story unraveled like no other I have ever come across. Just like other reviewers have said, it should be required reading for anyone who is interested in learning about one of (if not thee) most important moment in American history.

This is a wonderful story... There is suspense, drama, impossibl...more
Richard
David Hackett Fischer has produced a highly readable and fact-filled account of the important battles of the Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence. This conflict required a young, self-made country to draw soldiers from among its colonies to go against the strongest army of the time without the knowledge of how or when the outcome would play out. I think the heart of the American War of independence was the people of all classes who joined regiments and went to war under so...more
Corey
A fantastic review of a year in the Revolutionary War and some of the best writing on the military aspects of the battles, campaigns and strategies for both sides in the year 1776 and the war in general.

Like most history lovers, I think I have neglected the actual nuts and bolts of this war. So much has been written (and rightfully so) about the towering personalities and characters of the Founding Fathers, but often times the obstacles facing the milita and soldiers in the trenches battling eac...more
Tweed Scott
This is a fabulous book! This Pulitzer Prize winner is a compelling book in that you will learn things about the condition and spirit of the people who lived through this trying era. Many times through the book I had the sense of being there as the events unfolded. The most remarkable thing for me was chronicling the growth of George Washington as a leader. As a battle commander he was defeated time & time again and was run out of NY by the British. After arriving in New Jersey he began to g...more
Heather
I liked this author. He does a good job of describing the context and events surrounding the famous painting Washington's Crossing, but I liked the beginning of the book the best. Towards the middle there were a few too many details for me, but ultimately it did help me understand more of the times, people, circumstances and turning points during the years of 1776 and 1777 in the American Revolution. I particularly enjoyed learning about General Washington and his leadership, how he worked toget...more
Chris
In Washington's Crossing, Fischer covers the New Jersey Campaign of December 1776 through the spring of 1777. He also explains the lead-up to th the battles in New Jersey and the Continental Army's disastrous actions during 1776 and how and why control of the war shifted from the British to the Americans during the few months of December '76 through April '77. This enlightening analysis of the war helped me to understand some of the reasons why the Americans ended up victorious in the conflict....more
Steve
Probably the best history I've read on the Revolutionary War. Lots of stuff I didn't know before, especially about the make up of the armies (Colonial, British, and Hessian). But Fisher never gets bogged down with details, and keeps the narrative flowing. I was surprised at the level of brutality involved with the British/Hessian occupation of New Jersey. Gang rapes, from little girls to old women, plundering houses, etc, all of which,in a compressed amount of time (a few weeks), pretty much und...more
Kyra
Carlyle maintained that "history is but the biography of great men," a sentiment that I don't share intellectually but can't always avoid emotionally. Surely it is impossible to imagine how the American Revolution could have succeeded without Washington, and this book adds to that impression. But it also ably demonstrates the critical role of men with 'smaller' roles, from those commonly known, like Paine, to men like Knox, who did their jobs so well that they made victory possible. It prevents...more
Len
I read this book because I liked David McCullough's "1776" so much -- especially the fifteen pages or so when he describes the Battle of Trenton.

This book takes those fifteen pages and expands it to a couple hundred pages. The level of detail is extraordinary, and Fischer does this without sacrificing readability.

Political and military history buffs both will enjoy the book very much.
Peri
This book is about more than just Washington crossing the Delaware to fight the battle of Trenton. It covers the events that lead up to this pivotal event, and effects of this important victory. It is very readable and enjoyable, and does make a great impression of what a massive accomplishment this was and how it impacted the psyche of the country.
Paul
I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written. David Fischer put me in the village with the Confederates and the British. I was at the Assunpink Bridge. I could see it! It was Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot rolled into one. At the samWashington's Crossinge time he did an excellent job portraying George Washington. he has peaked my interest and I intend to do further reading. Quite frankly, I think that is the intent of every author Historical or otherwise. To give ot...more
Brent
An excellent book on the defining events of '76-'77 that turned the tide of the revolution. Includes background info on the forces of both sides that paints a much fuller picture of the conflict.
Lewis Weinstein
An exciting description of one of the main reasons we are no longer part of the British Empire. Page-turning history.
Carla
The same story but not as well told as David McCullough's 1776.
Ian Fleischmann
When I was in 8th grade I read The Frontiersman by Allan W Eckert. Somewhere along the line I mixed up Eckert with Hackett, probably due to similar names and an insistence on use of the middle initial/name, and decided that I didn't care for Hackett. Historian's Fallacy reinforced this dislike, but I think Hackett redeemed himself in my eyes with Washington's Crossing. The attention to detail and descriptive storytelling is well worth its Pulitzer.

Hackett's central premise is that the impact of...more
Ruby
This non-fiction book won the Pulitzer Prize for history and I can see why. He recounts the early days of the Revolutionary War where the Union army suffered so many defeats until Washington had led his troops back across the Delaware and began fighting the war offensively.

Fischer had many good insights about what changed the momentum of the War, including many little known things such as a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine at the lowest point. The character and philosophies of the Nation was sti...more
Stephen
Washington's Crossing was a great book. It read much faster than other historical books of this period due to the ease with which David Hackett Fischer weaves the events and characters into their appropriate contexts. I appreciated the author's challenge towards the conventional understanding of the New Jersery campaign of 1776-77. Many believe that the Hessian troops involved in the first battle of Trenton were hungover from heavy drinking on Christmas day. Fischer delves deep into the correspo...more
Brad Wheeler
I've had good luck with popular history of late. Washington's Crossing was a thoughtful and thorough examination of the New York and New Jersey campaigns of the American Revolution, covering roughly August 1776 to March 1777. Fischer explains the background of the early revolution, the main players (British, German, and American), and then provides a detailed narrative of six months of war.

The main focus is on the First Battle of Trenton, as immortalized in the painting of Emanuel Leutze picture...more
Christian Diebold
I enjoyed this book immensely as it is written by an excellent historian and a good writer. The book traces the events leading up to the battles of Trenton and Princton and the successful campaign and conclusion of those two very important battles. Following the failures in New York, New Jersey and Rhodes Island, the credit of the American revolutionary forces and the viability of the revolution itself was at low ebb. Lord Howe and General Howe's campaign were succesful in putting Washington's a...more
Douglas Audirsch
I loved Fisher's "Paul Revere's Ride" so when I heard that his book, "Washington's Crossing" was even better, I was hooked. This book has a different feel and pace than the Revere one. Revere felt like the reader was in the midst of the action with individual characters from the story. Crossing felt like you were in the Generals quarters witnessing the strategy sessions and having a window on the decision-making behind the scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed the historic retelling, but also the review...more
Bob
George Washington's career as a general certainly charts the vicissitudes of war. In one year he moved from the hero who organized resistance to the British that drove them out of Boston to the goat who lost New York City as a result of tactical errors, a relatively indefensible location that had to be defended, and overwhelming British naval forces. And with the loss of New York, he lost a good portion of his army. At that point success was measured in successful flight into and across New Jers...more
Sue
I really liked this book! It didn't just explain about the actual crossing of the Deleware, etc. It dug deep into the entire history of the war up to that point, about how it was really more of a civil war than just a war for independence, and how decisions on both sides, both good and bad, affected the entire campaign in New Jersey. Most important, it demonstrated how this period really began to turn the tide of both military fortune and public opinion regarding the war (on both sides of the Po...more
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David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His major works have tackled everything from large macroeconomic and cultural trends (Albion's Seed, The Great Wave) to narrative histories of significant events (Paul Revere's Ride, Washington's Crossing) to explorations of historiography (Historians' Fallacies, in which he coined the term H...more
More about David Hackett Fischer...
Paul Revere's Ride Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History, Vol. I) Champlain's Dream Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History

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“Until Washington crossed the Delaware, the triumph of the old order seemed inevitable. Thereafter, things would never be the same again.” 2 likes
“Americans tended to think of war as something that had to be done from time to time, for a particular purpose or goal. They fought not for the sake of fighting but for the sake of winning.” 1 likes
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