Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It” as Want to Read:
Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Amid a great collection of scholarship and narrative history on the Revolutionary War and the American struggle for independence, there is a gaping hole; one that John Ferling's latest book, Whirlwind, will fill. Books chronicling the Revolution have largely ranged from multivolume tomes that appeal to scholars and the most serious general readers to microhistories that ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Whirlwind, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Greg Johnson (I own both books and love them) Almost A Miracle was mostly focused exclusively on the military aspect of the Revolutionary War, while Whirlwind is…more(I own both books and love them) Almost A Miracle was mostly focused exclusively on the military aspect of the Revolutionary War, while Whirlwind is about half the length, and is a comprehensive volume of the entire American Revolution itself, from its proximate causes through its negotiated conclusion. It covers political, social, and military aspects in total, but is concise.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  337 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And what a whirlwind it was! I've often thought it miraculous that the Americans were able to achieve victory in this war, and go on to forge a powerful nation. At what heavy a cost did this victory come about! Ferling's book is a comprehensive and unflinching look at how it all played out, a detailed account of the harrowing conflict that brought about the United States of America, from the earliest stirrings of discontent to its eventual end after long, difficult years of fighting, and its ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This incredible book has lots of details and information, and perfectly sets a tone for this turbulent time period.
Geo Forman
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An appropriate measure of politics, personalities, societies and the battlefield.

The author has an exemplary style of writing

Best one volume history of America's fight for independence that I've read
Casey Wheeler
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a prerelease e-copy of this book through NetGalley (publication date May 5, 2015) with the expectation that I will post a review on their site and others (my blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, Amazon, etc.).

I requested this book as I am an avid of United States history including several on the Revolutionary War. I have read several books by John Ferling.

This is a well written and researched book that is an enjoyable read as many of the other books written by this
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for all with an interest in the Revolutionary War. I have read many histories of the war, and this book provided material I had not seen before.
Most of the histories I have read provided just a few lines describing the Stamp Act and the Boston Tea Party as the root causes of the war.
This book provides some 200 pages, the first half of the book, describing in detail the background from both the British and the Colonists side of the British actions that transformed the
Bill F.

I've enjoyed two other John Ferling works: Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 [2004] and Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation [2013]. I can now add Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It [2015] to that group. Ferling, a retired history professor from the University of West Georgia, has compiled a masterful study of the Revolutionary War. There are two main themes to the book. The first is that the colonial unrest from 1765-1775 was not
H. P.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
By Ferling’s own words, Whirlwind differs from other histories of the American Revolution in emphasizing the causal role of economic factors (along with rage against Britain and a desire for a freer world), its position that Americans were happy with the imperial relationship until the 1760s, it focus on the war rather than the political rebellion, the attention it pays to what was happening in England, and by beginning in the 1760s and ending with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Ferling is also ...more
Rodney Harvill
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As is obvious from the title, the author, Professor Ferling, considers the American Revolution to be distinct from the Revolutionary War, unlike the popular usage that treats the two concepts as synonymous. The book covers the time period from the Stamp Act of 1763 to the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and is a rather good survey of that history. Although I am a native southerner, I have had a better grasp of the New England and Mid-Atlantic theaters of the war than of the southern theater, excepting ...more
Gregory Jones
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Books like this are why I became a historian. Ferling delightfully covers a truly remarkable time in American history, showing one of the distinctions that I try to make to my students every semester; the ideology of the Revolution and the war were two different things. They did, however, serve the same end of American independence.

The book carries a familiar narrative full of rich and rewarding characters. But what I love about Ferling's retelling is that he incorporates high level scholarship,
Kate Lawrence
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Without being overly detailed, Ferling tells the whole story: from the end of the Seven Years' War through the oppressive new laws Britain imposed in the 1760s on the American colonies and every step of the way through the war and its resolution. It was an amazing time period, with huge cultural change occurring in just a few years, bringing about a war in which numerous mistakes were made, opportunities missed, and events that could have played out very differently. We get a closeup--and not ...more
James Spurgeon
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Though the book is a little skimpy with details in the various battles of the revolution, it does do something else which I found to be a great addition to the story... it told what was happening in London before the outbreak of the war. It went through the various ministries between the Stamp Act and the outbreak of the war and how they handled the crisis that was developing. The book went even further. In school we are usually taught the events in succession to the point where bloodshed ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
If you are not entertained by history...this is not the book for you! If you ARE entertained by history, this is an excellent comprehensive account of the events leading up to, during, and following the American Revolution. Ferling has a great hand for getting all the facts and writing them as if he is talking to you about them over coffee...however he sometimes jumps from year to year...forward and back which can get confusing. The last few chapters seemed both rushed and too crammed full of ...more
James Murphy
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've just finished reading "Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It" by John Ferling and it's one of the best histories that I've read. The book covers the years 1759 to 1783 and shows how the thirteen colonies became disaffected with Great Britain, the train of events resulting in the battles of Lexington and Concord, the resulting Revolutionary War, and the peace that resulted in the creation of the United States. I learned about some aspects of the Revolutionary War I ...more
Daniel Dolan
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is receiving a lot of positive buzz among some of my history and strategy professor colleagues, so I bought a copy. After reading it, I can understand why the Revolutionary War experts are considering it among the best single volume texts on the topic of the American Revolutionary War.

The book is written in a very accessible style that would be enjoyable for all readers--the expert and arm chair enthusiast alike.
Stan DeGroote
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This is the single best overview of the American Revolution that I have seen.

It doesn't go as deeply into individual biographies, nor is it a military history per se. But it gives the over-arching outline and context that is missing from most similar texts.

I was looking for some sort of 'sequel' to McCullough's "1776", and this fit the bill to a T.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book looks at the events that led to the revolution, who led it and who fought in it. Very light on the military details of the battles and minimal information about individual soldiers experience, it's more of an overall picture. Considering the length of the book and the timeline covered the book does a good job of giving the reader a basic understanding of the war.
Kirk LaPean
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Revolution from Start to Conclusion

Extremely indepth discussion of the American Revolution. At times it read more like a textbook, but after reading you definitely walk away understanding what lead up to the war and how it was won. This should be a mandatory read for most of our twenty somethings. They should better understand the freedoms they take for granted.
Dave Main
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A well-referenced survey of the Revolutionary War and the decade that preceded it.

I was expecting more of a military history, but there was more depth to the political and societal background of the colonies going back to the roots of the rebellion in 1765.

A few campaign maps would have been nice. I had to have my computer beside me to cross-reference against what I was reading.
John Barth
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great survey of the Revolutionary War that highlights the alliance with France, Washington's obsession with retaking New York City, and the British political landscape. I learned a lot and feel it is a good springboard for other material on the time period.
Scoutmaster P
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting read about the military and political impacts during the eight year struggle for independence.
Jay Perkins
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really solid overview of the American revolution. Ferling covers a lot in a relatively short book.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I am getting into the American Revolution and this was a good overview.
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
"From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be…" Acts 17:26 (Scripture quoted from the Contemporary English Version 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.) It is fascinating to see the events that God had ordained to bring America onto the world scene as an independent nation in 1776.

Independence was not on everyone's mind when the American Revolution began. Many Americans simply wanted to have adequate
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I'm fairly knowledgeable about the Revolutionary period, and yet I learned a ton from reading this book. Ferling often uses the very effective technique of quoting a person's actual words instead of paraphrasing, which increases the credibility of the narrative and gives the reader more of a sense of the speaker's personality and viewpoint. Whirlwind effectively conveys the complexity and seesawing momentum of the Revolutionary period without going too far into the weeds on ...more
Gerry McCaffrey
I was looking for a book that would give me an overview of the war of independence and this turned out to be a perfect fit. Well written and just the right amount of detail.
Alexander Cotignola
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
John Ferling’s Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It, as the title suggests, details the events that led to the American Revolution and how a ragtag group of rebels eventually took down the world’s most powerful army with French support. In here one will find all of the usual events and battles that have become a main part of the American effort: the Stamp Act riots; the Boston Massacre; the Boston Tea Party; Battles of Lexington and Concord; Battle of Trenton; Saratoga; and ...more
Zeb Kantrowitz
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-read
Ferling, a leading authority in American Revolution, is a professor emeritus in history at the University of West Georgia. Written in a narrative style, the book reads like an historical fiction in the way it handles stories about the Continental Army, Continental Congress and the British Forces.

Starting with a short history of the lead up to the Declaration of Independence, we are given a sketch of the men who lead the First and Second Continental Congresses. There is a very specific discussion
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received an advance reading copy of this book, for free, through Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review.

Most people learned about the Revolutionary War in middle school and high school. The extent of their knowledge is comprised of the major battles and key figures. In Whirlwind, John Ferling delivers a master’s course on the subject. Beginning in 1763 with the conclusion of the French and Indian War, the author describes the next 20 years in painstaking detail,
Bruce Cook
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this one volume account of the revolutionary war. As I read this book I also was reading Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. I would read a chapter in Whirlwind and then the corresponding chapter or chapters in Washington for the same event or period. It was a very enjoyable and enlightening experience. In both accounts the greatness of George Washington is front and center. The accounts had different approaches and one emphasizes a battle more or in a different way, but ...more
This is a really great comprehensive 201ish level-"Intro to the American Revolution" if you will. IT was nuts to bolts from the political beginnings & British acts that enflamed the colonists, through the end of the war, touching on everything. It definitely sets the stage for future deeper reads into portions of the war.

I loved it
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rethinking the Korean War: A New Diplomatic and Strategic History
  • The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire
  • Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution
  • A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War
  • On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
  • Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City
  • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
  • Strategy and Power in Russia 1600-1914
  • The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies
  • Legion versus Phalanx
  • Grey Eminence: Fox Conner and the Art of Mentorship
  • Alexander the Great
  • Rising Sun And Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan
  • Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power--Economic and Military
  • The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
  • Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution
  • The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
See similar books…
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 ...more
“Some Continental army officers joined the search, looking for African Americans they had once owned. General Washington was one who spent some time combing the countryside. He found two of his slaves who had escaped in the raid of the HMS Savage. He sent them back to Mount Vernon and a lifetime of servitude.35 In this hour of triumph for a revolution waged for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Washington also found the time to congratulate his army on the victory that had brought “Joy” to “every Breast.” 0 likes
“Empires exist for the benefit of the parent state. That, and the fact that the colonists eventually came to appreciate this truth, goes a long way toward explaining the origins of the American Revolution. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the authorities in London, the seat of Great Britain’s empire,” 0 likes
More quotes…