Dan Chance's Reviews > 1776

1776 by David McCullough
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Nov 08, 13

bookshelves: history
Read from May 21 to 26, 2012

5/21/12 "I KNOW I'm going to like it. Depictions of people and places are in the words of the great men of the day. England couldn't imagine losing but they miscalculated by ignoring the common heritage of the colonists and their own people, the enormous resources at our disposal and the indomitable spirit of a people fighting for their freedom."
5/22/12 "Wow! Imagine what Knox achieved in bringing all those huge cannons from Ft. Ticonderoga to Boston. Imagine the disbelief when the British saw those cannon on the summit of Dorchester overlooking Boston. Checkmate! The "rabble in arms" didn't seem so easy to sneer at anymore. And the rebels still didn't have enough gun powder for more than 10 musket shots per soldier!"
5/23/12 "Winning a battle (as at Boston) is not the same as winning a war. America had just a few months to rejoice as British Gen. Howe returned to England. The American army made good use of their time moving to New York, building new forts and gun emplacements on high ground as found at Brooklyn. A plot to kill Washington was foiled and independence was declared by Congress. But sobriety replaced joy as over 400 ships anchored near by after offloading over 30,000 well equipped troops on Staten Island.
5/24/12 "Washington's army had left a pass through the heights unguarded on one end of their line and the British found out about it. They soon made use of it and the fight for New York was begun. American infantry showed that they could stand and fight as well as any English soldier but overwhelming force from front and back carried the day."
5/25/12 "It was the Jamaica Pass that had been left unguarded but even if defended America would have lost this battle because of the overwhelming odds against them. By the grace of God, the defenders of Brooklyn escaped during the night to the complete surprise of the British. A discreditable beginning for Washington and his army but they were learning and they have lived to fight another day."
5/26/12 "Amateurish optimism, self destructive awe of superior enemy forces, glaring errors of judgement, valiant, "right smart" skirmishes, miraculous evacuations, retreats, and demoralizing losses of men, materiel, forts and towns. Things were not going well for America in 1776."
5/26/12 "Driven by overwhelming force from New York, deserted by thousands of his men as their enlistments ended, assaulted by bitter cold, yet still supported by trusted and able officers like Knox and Greene, Washington overwhelmed the Hessian unit at Trenton to restore life to the flame of independence. 1776 had ended but under Washington it continued success by victory at Princeton against Howe's expected reinforcements."
5/26/12 "The narative has strayed into 1777 and the war would last into 1781. This book does not touch on Valley Forge where approx 10,000 troops spent the winter and 2,000 died of disease and exposure. Nor does it tell of the rest of the war and the battle at Yorktown that ended it. But we've seen how Washington chose Gen's Knox and Greene as green New Englanders and how they proved to be his most able and loyal."
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The limitation on "progress notes" didn't allow much comment but I loved the book. I would recommend it to anyone. PAGE 294 ended the narrative. Acknowledgments, Source Notes and Index follow. If we had not achieved our independence when it took England 3 months to hear what was going on over here and respond, we would probably still be colonies.
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Reading Progress

05/21/2012 page 30
8.0% "I KNOW I'm going to like it. Depictions of people and places are in the words of the great men of the day. England couldn't imagine losing but they miscalculated by ignoring the common heritage of the colonists and their own people, the enormous resources at our disposal and the indomitable spirit of a people fighting for their freedom."
05/22/2012 page 102
26.0% "Wow! Imagine what Knox achieved in bringing all those huge cannons from Ft. Ticonderoga to Boston. Imagine the disbelief when the British saw those cannon on the summit of Dorchester overlooking Boston. Checkmate! The "rabble in arms" didn't seem so easy to sneer at anymore. And the rebels still didn't have enough gun powder for more than 10 musket shots per soldier!"
05/23/2012 page 149
37.0% "Winning a battle (as at Boston) is not the same as winning a war. America had just a few months to rejoice as British Gen. Howe returned to England. The American army made good use of their time moving to New York, building new forts and gun emplacements on high ground as found at Brooklyn. A plot to kill Washington was foiled and independence was declared by Congress. But sobriety replaced joy as over 400 ships.."
05/24/2012 page 175
44.0% "Washington's army had left a pass through the heights unguarded on one end of their line and the British found out about it. They soon made use of it and the fight for New York was begun. American infantry showed that they could stand and fight as well as any English soldier but overwhelming force from front and back began to carry the day."
05/24/2012 page 200
50.0% "It was the Jamaica Pass that had been left unguarded but even if defended America would have lost this battle because of the overwhelming odds against them. By the grace of God, the defenders of Brooklyn escaped during the night to the complete surprise of the British. A discreditable beginning for Washington and his army but they were learning and they have lived to fight another day."
05/25/2012 page 246
62.0% "Amateurish optimism, self destructive awe of superior enemy forces, glaring errors of judgement, valiant, "right smart" skirmishes, miraculous evacuations, retreats, and demoralizing losses of men, materiel, forts and towns. Things were not going well for America in 1776."
05/26/2012 page 292
73.0% "Driven by overwhelming force from New York, deserted by thousands of his men as their enlistments ended, assaulted by bitter cold, yet still supported by trusted and able officers like Knox and Greene, Washington overwhelmed the Hessian unit at Trenton to restore life to the flame of independence. 1776 had ended but under Washington it continued success by victory at Princeton against Howe's expected reinforcements."
05/26/2012 page 297
74.0% "The narative has strayed into 1777 and the war would last into 1781. This book does not touch on Valley Forge where approx 10,000 troops spent the winter and 2,000 died of disease and exposure. Nor does it tell of the rest of the war and the battle at Yorktown that ended it. But we've seen how Washington chose Gen's Knox and Greene as green New Englanders and how they proved to be his most able and loyal."

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