RevWar Revolutionary War Book Club discussion

Victory at Yorktown > Ch 1 - So Much is at Stake

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Boothe (Smoothe_1) | 49 comments Mod
Please post discussion for Ch 1 here.

message 2: by Steve (new)

Steve Boothe (Smoothe_1) | 49 comments Mod
One of the most fascinating parts of the American Revolution is the behind-the-scenes diplomacy and spying that was going on in Europe at the time. I'm glad Ketchum decided to include a little about that in this chapter.

I was also intrigued by Comte de Vergennes' most accurate prediction (made in the 1750's) of what would happen to the English colonies if France lost Canada. I'm going to see if I can track down more about this particular quote.

I hope everyone is enjoying the read!

message 3: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 25 comments I chose to read this book mainly for two reasons. One, way back in 1957 I did a graduate term paper at UCLA about Thomas Nelson, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia at the time of the surrender at Yorktown. Two, about a month ago I finished reading Kenneth Roberts's excellent historical novel "Oliver Wiswell." The novel provided much detail about the British/Loyalist spying that took place in France to obtain solid information to present to George III the fact that the French were definitely intending to aggressively assist the Americans. The novel also delved into Loyalist resistance to General Nathaniel Greene in the Carolinas. It also presented a flattering portrayal of Benedict Arnold. I wanted to contrast Richard Ketchum's portrayal of people and events with what I had learned long ago and quite recently.

I'm happy to see that Ketchum mentions the spying activity of Loyalist Paul Wentworth and the fact that despite the success of such spying, George III refused to credit it -- a flaw of perspective that not only afflicted the king but also his senior generals. George III and Howe and Clinton in particular would not credit information given to them that they did not wish to hear. Ketchum and Kenneth Roberts agree that George III discounted what Wentworth had obtained because the American, being a "gambler," could not be trusted. It is amazing that America, as weak as it was, won the war.

message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve Boothe (Smoothe_1) | 49 comments Mod
I agree, Harold. America had to have a lot of things go right for them to win the war. Much of it swung on the personalities involved and their inability (especially on the British side) to make good choices. There are many instances, like the listening to the spies that you mention, that might have made a difference if only the British had taken advantage of them.

It's good having you along for the read!

message 5: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 25 comments My pleasure. This is a great idea -- exchanging opinions and impressions.

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