Theo Logos's Reviews > Washington's Crossing

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
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May 26, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: american-colonial-early-republic, history-war
Read in December, 2004

Washington's Crossing is at once both rich with detail and eminently readable, scholarly, yet approachable. In it, the author covers the period from which Washington took control of the Colonial army, through the disastrous, nearly fatal campaign in New York, to the Battles of Trenton, Princeton, and finally the forage war skirmishes that rage through the end of the winter of 1776-77. He illustrates how this winter campaign of Washington's was much more than the small, symbolic victory that it has often been characterized as; that it in fact had a major impact on the war by destroying the Howe brother's strategy of ending the Revolution through conciliation, and reviving the spirits of the Americans to fight on.
Fischer begins with an examination of the make up of the Colonial army, with its wide sectional and cultural differences, and examines the daunting task Washington had in forging it into an effective fighting force capable of fighting the world's most professional and successful army. He then goes into some detail describing the make up and culture of the British army and the Hessian forces that the Americans faced, giving a context to the challenge. Washington emerges from his pages as a genius simply for being able to adapt to the situation at hand and create and lead what became the Continental Army.
Fischer is vividly descriptive in his portraits of Washington and his officers, the Howe brothers and their principle officers, and the commanders of the Hessian forces. In addition, he provides the perspectives of common soldiers from all the armies, private citizens, members of the Continental Congress, and Tom Paine, the Revolution's propagandist who was pivotal in the success of the winter campaign.
Washington's Crossing is rich in illustrations and contains adequate and readable maps. It has copious note, an excellent bibliography, and several fascinating and useful appendices that add many additional layers of information to the text.
I would rank this as one of the most informative, well-written, and fascinating books that I have ever read on the American Revolution, and I would consider it essential to a full understanding of the Revolution. Fischer has crafted a masterpiece that you cannot afford to miss. This book receives my highest recommendation.
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