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1776 by David McCullough
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's review
Dec 09, 08

it was amazing
Read in December, 2008

This is my new favorite secular non-fiction book. I'm accustomed to stopping half-way with non-fiction, but this was as riveting as a great novel. I'm sure this was partly due to my ignorance of the details surrounding the Revolutionary War, so I really didn't know how the story would progress. I am anxious to read more by David McCullough.

Washington's resilience in the face of such challenging circumstances inspired me. I never knew that he had made so many blunders in waging the war. His ability to carry on despite his feelings of inadequacy, frequent misjudgements, and betrayal by those who were close to him, was remarkable. At points when I would have given up and gone home, he refused to despair and pushed on, trusting in God.

The stories of courage by others are equally inspiring. One of the passages that struck me the most was about John Greenwood, a 16-year old fifer, who walked 150 miles alone to Boston to do his part. When he arrived, he enlisted for $8 a month. "Later, passing through Cambridge, he learned of the battle raging at Bunker Hill. Wounded men were being laid out on the Common. 'Everywhere the greatest terror and confusion seemed to prevail.' The boy started running along the road that led to the battle , past wagons carrying more casualties and wounded men struggling back to Cambridge on foot. Terrified, he wished he had never enlisted. 'I could positively feel my hair stand on end.' But then he saw a soldier coming down the road.

"'...a Negro man, wounded in the back of his neck, passed me and, his collar being open and he not having anything on except his shirt and trousers, I saw the wound quite plainly and the blood running down his back. I asked him if it hurt much, as he did not seem to mind it. He said no, that he was only to get a plaster put on it and meant to return. You cannot conceive what encouragement this immediately gave me. I began to feel brave and like a soldier from that moment, and fear never troubled me afterward during the whole war.'"

I do wish there were better maps included in the book. The couple included British war maps were entirely inadequate to follow the progression of the troops.
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