“From the last week of August to the last week of December, the year 1776 had been as dark a time as those devoted to the American cause had ever known – indeed, as dark a time as any in the history of the country. And suddenly, miraculously it seemed, that had changed because of a small band of determined men and their leader.”
One of the most pivotal years in American history can arguably be 1776. It is the year America started fighting for its independence from Britain and battles were waged on the American continent. How did a band of untrained farmers and workers manage to win against trained British and hired Hessian troops? Well, they didn’t a lot of the time, but when it came to getting the momentum going, they fought bravely and well.
I recently read David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers and loved the style of his writing. It was non-fiction, but since it was so well researched, the “plot” moved right along and kept my interest. I decided to add more of his books to my to-read list, starting with 1776.
1776 is also very well researched (source notes and bibliography take up 70 pages). McCullough gives both the American and British side of the battles that took place in 1776, along with what both governments were doing about the matter. There is the story of Henry Knox who moved 58 mortars and cannons across fields, rivers and hills to Boston from Ticonderoga. George Washington is the main focus of the book and it examines his wise and not-so-wise decisions in leading his men. More often than not, more men were sick than were well and many did not have shoes during the winter campaigns. The American “rebels” retreated time and time again before finally winning a battle at Trenton. That win alone did wonders to spur the campaign forward. One thing that really struck me is that in several letters written by Americans, they had the foresight that what they were doing would impact the future and the fate of millions greatly. They had a long-term view of what they were doing, while the British were just dealing with difficult citizens.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone high school age or older (mainly due to the in-depth writing). It does not cover the entire campaign of America’s fight for independence, but just mainly the year 1776. It would be especially great for any lover of history. I plan to read more McCullough books.