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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,448 Ratings  ·  136 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, 679 pages
Published April 3rd 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published April 22nd 2007)
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Matt
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Singer
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jodi
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans, students of history, soldiers
Shelves: non-fiction, war, history
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
Bob Mobley
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Patrick
Mar 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jason
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
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
Carol Dobson
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A comprehensive, factual and fascinating account of the dramatic years of the American Revolution.
George Washington remarked that it was almost a miracle that the Americans had won the war and Ferling has used these words as the title for this book. He attempts to explain why America won the war, and why the British lost it.
War almost invariably encompasses terrible suffering, and the American Revolution was no exception; for the population near the eastern seaboard whose homes and lands were o
...more
Arvind Sharma
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first in-depth exposure to the American Revolution. Got interested in the topic after David McCullough's 1776. The book does a fantastic job of setting up the key characters, following the plot through years from North to South, ending in Yorktown, highlighting the role of luck and providence at every step.

Since the book is from a History Professor and he probably needs to stay true to the details, it does get a bit tedious at times. But kept me interested throughout.
Ken
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joshua
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heinz Reinhardt
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent one volume narrative of the War for Independence. The British were stuck with a terrible task: repacify a region an ocean away, with more expanse than all of Europe, with an Army smaller than Frederick's in the Seven Years War. Part of the fascination with the tale is how close they came regardless.
However, the British made several key mistakes that doomed their efforts.
Firstly they underutilized the large numbers of Loyalists in America. Torie regiments wouldn't be built till the
...more
S.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hookah
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
Doug DePew
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
John Nellis
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Marijan
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exstremely, and I mean extremely detailed account of American revolution. if you want to know details such as how british celebrated leaving Philadelphia, or what color was the uniform Washington was wearing when rode into New York, this is the book for you. Liberally interspersed with quotes in which original spelling was kept, and personal accounts, it makes for a longish, albeit interesting reading.
Tripp
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The three is really a taste based rating. I am finding it harder and harder to enjoy narrative, chronological history. The content of the book is good. Readers should know this is a military history, if you are seeking more about the politics or diplomacy, look elsewhere.

I learned quite a bit about Revolutionary War battles. I just wish it had been done more concisely.
Riannon
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mike
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More reading for the Teaching American History program. I'm going to be very, very busy.
Andrew Canfield
It would be a challenge to craft a history of the American Revolutionary War more compelling than Almost a Miracle. Anyone seeking to gain a perspective of the military aspect of the struggle-the battles, the generals, the thinking which went into various engagements-will be enriched by consuming Ferling's work.

The amount of detail crammed into this book's 575 pages are incredible. From discussing the intricacies of Lexington and Concord, the takeover Fort Ticonderoga, and the Battle of Quebec i
...more
Timothy Hoffman
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent view of the military aspects of the American Revolution. Does not make the militia to be more important to the outcome than they actually were, the victory depended more on French help and a new class of American Regular soldier. He also discusses the many divisions of opinion and goals in both camps during this time period and exposes missed opportunities by both sides.
Todd
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-history
A little too much for me...I think I prefer microhistories compared to large 1 volume histories.

Imagine a 1 volume history of the 16 year war in Afghanistan....you just have too much info to put into 700 pages.
Matt
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous selection to read in the month of January. Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose can step down to the 2nd podium bc Almost A Miracle is the best book I have ever read. I don’t expect to read a better one the rest of my life.
# Read up my Friends.
Yossarianxxi
a very good military history of the revolutionary war. well narrated on audio book too
Victoria
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of history
so far - Page 173 WOW
- July 2, 2017 - ready for Chapter 10 - Page 242
so far.................
Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

John Ferling

Quote: Pg 233 and summation [mine] of Chapter 9
Battle of Freeman’s Farm – September 9, 1777

… great echoes of thunder enhanced by echoes if the woods…”
My perspective – due to it being July 1, 2017 – population in my small community having set off fireworks –
the sounds of the day take me and reminds me of this particular passage in
...more
Robert Snow
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the noble aspirations of mankind are in this war of liberation, it is also a war that will bring out greatness in men and expose the faults of others. Revolutions are different than other wars for they hold up the ideal of hope and with it change for a better life. John Ferling has done a masterful job of conveying the harsh truths of the American Revolution. The second half of the book I found most interesting the Southern campaign, Washington holding the Army together and the victory at Yo ...more
Bill
Jul 03, 2011 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
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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.” 3 likes
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