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Almost A Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence
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Almost A Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,128 ratings  ·  103 reviews
In this gripping chronicle of America's struggle for independence, award-winning historian John Ferling transports readers to the grim realities of that war, capturing an eight-year conflict filled with heroism, suffering, cowardice, betrayal, and fierce dedication. As Ferling demonstrates, it was a war that America came much closer to losing than is now usually remembered ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published April 23rd 2009 by Oxford University Press (first published April 22nd 2007)
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Matt
The American Revolution holds very little interest to me, especially in comparison to the French and Indian War, which indirectly precipitated the Revolution. I think it's because it's a pastiche of lies, half-truths, legends and myths. The American Revolution is the American Creation story, and like the Book of Genesis, is better taken figuratively than literally.

I suppose on some level, America needs the myth of the Revolution in the same way overweight, pimply-faced high school students need
...more
Matt
Jun 23, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans, students of history, soldiers
Shelves: war, history, non-fiction
John Ferling has done excellent service as a writer and historian in this volumn. It is an excellent and extremely readable survey of the military history of the American Revolution, and in particular is maybe the best treatment of the late war years you'll encounter. It is a thick book, but not as thick as advertised. It runs only 575 pages - the remainder of the book being extensive bibliography and indexes. I enjoyed it immensely.

For a new student of American history, much of what Ferling wri
...more
Jason
Almost a Miracle is a very well written, one volume, and strategic history of the military action in the American War of Independence. In a little over 600 pages of text, Ferling attempts to show how and why the American forces won a war that at the beginning was beyond reasonable to expect. Being a strategic history, the book begins from 1775 onwards, toward the settling of peace in 1783. Many Revolutionary War histories include almost a prelude, with lengthy sections on the causes of the war, ...more
Patrick
Mar 31, 2008 Patrick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military history enthusiasts
I am about half-way through this book and enjoy it immensely. It is shaping up to be the best single volume history of the American Revolution that I have read. John Ferling does an excellent job of humanizing the many mythical leaders of that time period. Readers are introduced to General Washington's legendary temper and jealousy of potential rivals, General Howe's desire to resolve the crisis on favorable terms for Britain with as little bloodshed as possible, and King George III's absolute i ...more
Christopher H.
I read this shortly after it was published in 2007, and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you're looking for a really well written and interesting account of the military history of the American War of Independence, from both the strategic as well as tactical perspective, this is one of the best one-volume accounts out there. This volume does an excellent job of 'humanizing' the commanders on both sides, and also focuses on telling the story of the soldiers in the ranks. Another feature of this book tha ...more
Jodi
Despite my professor's view that this is not "truly" a history text (whatever that means), I really loved this book. It is a military history which I didn't think would be my thing, but I really enjoyed it. Ferling's book is more of a concrete time-line type rather than the ideological type of texts that my professor prefers. I found Ferling very refreshing after the large doses of ideology and Marxism of my other class readings. As a fan of George Washington, I also appreciated Ferling's approa ...more
Mark Singer
Feb 16, 2011 Mark Singer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the American Revolution and American history
Recommended to Mark by: Required text.
All history books should be this well written and as fun to read. I own about 25 books on the American Revolution and this is absolutely the best. If you have to read one book only on the American War for Independence then this is the one! This was required reading for a course I had on that subject in the Spring of 2010 at Temple University - Ambler.

edited (2/4/11) **** now re-reading
Even better the second time through.
Bob Mobley
John Ferling examines the American War of Independence in a compelling, interesting and intellectuallly perceptive manner. He is a fine historian, whose knowledge is enhanced by his ability as a writer to craft a compelling narrative. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the strategy and personal stories behind the leadership that is so important for American success against the British during our war of Independence. After you have finished John Ferling's fine history, most like ...more
Doug DePew
Apr 30, 2011 Doug DePew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the military history of the American Revolution
Recommended to Doug by: History Book Club
"Almost A Miracle" is probably the most thorough look at the military history of the US War for Independence that I've ever read. John Ferling has done an excellent job of covering all aspects that went into the US victory. He has categorized the different aspects of the war well and has done a good job of tying the political maneuvering into the overall story. It has illustrations and maps scattered throughout the book that I found very useful in following along as he carried me to the victory. ...more
S.
unfortunately a new low in ebook descriptions-- book is 1/3rd footnotes and references. so it is not 700 pages, but a solid 450. however, the amazon.com special price of 1.99 erases most of any ill feeling.

crisply written; well-researched; flowing text. about as good as an eighteenth century war book can be, given that modern war books feature people who are more similar to us, whereas in the 18th century there's a bit of 'good sirr, if you woold bee so kindd as to resrain your troops from looti
...more
John Nellis
I really enjoyed this book. I really like history, but have never really studied the American Revolution much. I must say, this book was a very good start. The author presents a lot of information in a very readable way. This book kept me interested through out. He presents politics, battles, personalities, social conditions, tories, and many other facts. It was like reading a really good story, and didn't bog down at all. I learned a lot of good information from this account and how it was pres ...more
Barbara
I love reading about the American Revolution, and John Ferling does a good job pointing out the many times things didn't quite work out the way circumstances seemed to indicate they would, and why the American victory was, in many ways, a miracle. This particular book is good, but not my favorite. If you are looking for well-researched, accurate information with a slight bit of human interest thrown in, then this one is for you as long as you don't mind long books. Different battles and battlefi ...more
Lisa
This book was a great book! Everyone should read this and be able to come away with a better understanding of just how amazing it was that we won the American Revolution and to have a greater appreciation for those leaders, soldiers, and civilians who fought and sacrificed for the hope of a better country. John Ferling writes beautifully and you stay interested throughout the whole book. It was not your typical history book and it makes you realize that history is intersting can be enjoyable to ...more
Simon Kissam
Almost a Miracle by John Ferling chronicles the American Revolutionary War in a straightforward, non-biased way. Opposed to many conceptions, such as Washington being a military giant holding the army together, that it was a great fight for liberty, and that America was bound to win over Great Britain, with or without the French. Overall, it was very good and readable.

John Ferling tells the story of the war through the years, though if multiple fronts (such as Burgoyne's campaign in northern New
...more
Damon Lively
I enjoyed this book. For a one volume look into the entire Revolutionary War and time period surrounding -it is well written. This is a good starter for identifying more focused aspects that you might want to read into further. With that said – it delves far enough into the key social, political, military, and battlefield particulars to keep it very interesting and educational. I think I walked away with a better perspective on just how fragile the entire govt, economy, and military operation wa ...more
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
A good military history of the War of Independence. You get something from this book that is missed by most other professional historians, and that's the chronological sense, the feeling of the pass of time between major battles and relevant happenings. This is the most to be appreciated aspect of the book -otherwise, it would have been just a good and detailed account of the War- Yes, things happened in between battles, if only because those encounters had been brewing previously in the midst o ...more
Riannon
This book was well-written and interesting, but fairly bland and dry when compared to history as written by Catton, which will probably end up being the standard to which I compare every historical work I read.
Marce Scarbrough
So most of the history books about the revolutionary war are pretty predictable. Sometimes they make the founding fathers into gods, others focus on how incompetent the British were in carrying out the war. This book goes beyond that, focusing on the times that the British and Americans almost won, if not for some small event or decision that changed the course of history.

The author does of good job of pointing out the good and bad character traits of both the American and British commanders. He
...more
Kathy
This was a book on the American Revolutionary War. It emphasized a lot of the military aspect, not so much political or the view from the common soldier or any of that.
It was interesting to compare the generaling of this war to the other war I've read about recently, WWII. Its pretty interesting what a couple of hundred years will do for your war craft. Washington, as far as great generals of history goes, won't crack the top ten for sure. A lot of his victories were more because General Howe of
...more
Derek Weese
I admit, this is the only book I've yet read on the War for Independence, so I can't give a truly detailed and long review. I will say that this book was very well written, engaging and enlightening. This book tells the story of the war itself, and not the political 'Revolution' except only where it impacted military events. It's a great book and as a starting ground for the subject I have to say I am not sure: the book is DETAILED, possibly too detailed for someone just stepping into the War fo ...more
Brian
Almost a miracle is that latest installment in a long list of American Revolution books by noted author John Ferling. In his typical fashion he delivers a well researched and thoughtful analysis of his topic. This book covers the whole of the revolution and using a quote from George Washington after defeating General Cornwallis he assess how the United States beat the most powerful empire of the time. The book takes the reader year by year and looks at how each campaign fell militarily, politica ...more
Chi Pham
I do not dislike historiography. In fact, I enjoy historiography tremendously, since I love books such as "The Tsar's Last Armada". In my opinion, while the author should try to stick to the truth, he or she should be bold at the same time, creating suspense and solving climax like no tomorrow. After all, historical anecdotes should read like an account of our daily life, with our fear, our worry, our relief and our happiness above all things. Hidden under the story should lie the historical dis ...more
Ben
Last year I read John Ferling's worthwhile chronicle "Independence: The Struggle to Set America Free" about the journey that culminated in the founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. This book largely continues from that point and shows how Washington's army improbably defeated the better trained British army. It's a story we all remember from school. But this book explores many facets of the war that all but the diehard historians have forgotten. For instance, our grade school ...more
Joshua
This is the second work that I have read from John Ferling, and I have found both works to be fantastic. The history of the American Revolution can become muddied by what Dr. Bernstein calls "founders chic." It can also become burdened by an over-critical, harsh assessment of the founders which fails to interpret them in the light of their own time or world. Dr. Ferling avoids both pitfalls and while he does not shy away from the weaknesses of the characters he is writing about, he does not vili ...more
Bill
Jul 11, 2011 Bill marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have read two books by this author and I have two to go. He is a professor emeritus which means to me that he is a wise old man. He has an excellent command of the material which produces a fluid detailed narrative. It was a pleasant way to learn about a very interesting topic. The break between the British and the Americans began with the British attempting to impose their authority on the Americans. The Americans were used to being on their own and pushed back instead of submitting. There we ...more
Scott
Almost a Miracle was the first book I read on my new Kindle. I'm kind of glad I chose a history to read first, as a lot of what it's in my queue is historic in nature. Amazon offered just about a fifth of the book up front as a tease, so at $9.99, I figured, "Why not?"

Admittedly, it can be a bit of a slog to get through as most histories can be. There are slower bits, and the maps don't exactly lend themselves well to the Kindle 2's smaller screen. However, the text itself was quite good, and ev
...more
Dave Hart
Clear and briskly written, this is an excellent military history of the American Revolution. Ferling makes clear that both sides basically blundered through the war; battles were more often lost than won -- not least at Yorktown, where the British foolishly boxed themselves into a trap -- and the lost opportunities by both sides were too many to count.

Despite apparently extraordinarily steep odds, the Americans just had to stay in the war until the British grew weary of it, and thanks in large
...more
Ken
Ferling, John. Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


…T.S. reading the letter that Renee wrote to break up with Brodie…“Whoa, she calls you callow in here.”
Brodie—“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
T.S.—“Well, it means frightened and weak-willed.”
Brodie—“Oh, I thought it was the only part of the letter that was complimentary.”
---from the movie Mallrats directed by Kevin Smith.

A rather unusual start to a book review of a mili
...more
Chad
Ferling provides a fine overview of the American Revolution in this single volume. After reading 1776 and two biographies on George Washington, I needed a better understanding of the entire war and all of the fighting that occurred after the early months of 1777 (the early years being covered wonderfully in McCullough's 1776). I wasn't disappointed with my choice.

Ferling's writing offers a clear narrative which at times delves deeply into single important moments of the war (turning pivotal bat
...more
Mike
John Ferling’s book, "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence", is a military history of the war and serves as a companion to Ferling’s earlier "A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic," which was a political history of the same period. While Ferling does not present any new information or interpretation, this is to not surprising in a book written for a general audience. Ferling’s work is based on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, expl ...more
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John E. Ferling is a professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he is the author of several books, including "A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic", "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence", and his most recent work, "The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Politi ...more
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“Gates should have exceeded Washington as a military leader. He had long experience in a professional army and was more loved by his men. But Washington's character was superior to that of his rival, and it made him a great man, whereas Gates was merely a good soldier.” 0 likes
“There are always those who wish to sanitize war by portraying its grand and noble deeds-which sometimes occur-while drawing a veil over its shameless side. By its nature, war is harsh, brutal, and pitiless, and while it can call out the best in humankind, it can also awaken the darkest side of human nature, arousing in many participants a coldhearted callousness. For most, danger begets fear. For some, fear sires ferocity, and ferocity spawns a ruthlessness that subsumes compassion. For still other men, more than is gratifying to acknowledge, soldiering is a license to unleash iniquitous qualities that they struggled to suppress in peacetime.” 0 likes
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