1776
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1776

4.3 426
by David McCullough
     
 

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America’s beloved and distinguished historian presents, in a book of breathtaking excitement, drama, and narrative force, the stirring story of the year of our nation’s birth, 1776, interweaving, on both sides of the Atlantic, the actions and decisions that led Great Britain to undertake a war against her rebellious colonial subjects and that placed

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Overview

America’s beloved and distinguished historian presents, in a book of breathtaking excitement, drama, and narrative force, the stirring story of the year of our nation’s birth, 1776, interweaving, on both sides of the Atlantic, the actions and decisions that led Great Britain to undertake a war against her rebellious colonial subjects and that placed America’s survival in the hands of George Washington.

In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.

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Editorial Reviews

The story of 1776, the year of our nation's birth, became so enmeshed in shadow-play rituals that we no longer could sense its immediacy or its significance. That changed with David McCullough's full-bodied narrative history 1776. With this 2005 book, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner did for George Washington (and surprisingly, George III) what he had done for John Adams, Harry Truman, and Theodore Roosevelt. In the process, he set the grassroots fervency of the outnumbered colonists against the mighty United Kingdom, the world's only superpower. Now in this sumptuous illustrated edition, 1776 captures history even more viscerally at its most human level. Stirring words and images of America at its most heroic and imperiled year.
Publishers Weekly
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning John Adams, McCullough provided an in-depth look at the life of America's second president; here, the author shifts his focus to the other major players of the American Revolution, providing a detailed account of the life and times of the generals and soldiers who fought for and won America's independence. In this top-notch audio production, McCullough proves that he is as equally adept at reading prose as he is at writing it. At no time does it feel like listening to a lecturing professor; instead, McCullough narrates in a sonorous, grandfatherly voice, keeping his speech vibrant and engaging, as if he were simply telling a story. Unabridged sections of prose are read by the author, while portions of the book not fully explored in this abridgment are summarized by auxiliary narrator Twomey, whose performance is serviceable and pleasant. Though the abridgement is effective, the subject matter will leave discerning listeners hungry for more. While casual fans will be satisfied, serious history aficionados will want to listen to McCullough's unabridged recording (12 hours, 10 CDs, $49.95 ISBN 0-7435-4423-4). Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 21). (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-McCullough concentrates on George Washington's role in the creation of the Continental Army, starting with his appointment in 1775 to lead the rather amorphous army of the united colonies and continuing through his successes with that army at Trenton and Princeton as 1776 turned into 1777. He introduces readers to the 1776 that Washington experienced: one of continual struggle both to create a working army and to defeat the British. The victories that he met outside Boston were soon followed by defeat and near ruin around New York and gave rise to the realization that 1776 might easily have become the worst year in the history of America. McCullough not only provides readers with some of his best work yet, but also presents an important look at one of the most crucial moments in the history of the United States. Black-and-white and color photos are included.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A master storyteller's character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution. Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great-) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he "could march from one end of the American continent to the other." Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women's work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans' military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers "who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins" at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supremeinsult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general-not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world's highest standard of living in 1776. Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose "outcome seemed little short of a miracle." A sterling account.
From the Publisher
"A stirring and timely work." — The New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant . . . powerful . . . 1776 is vintage McCullough: colorful, eloquent and illuminating." — Newsweek

"Should be required reading in living rooms from coast to coast." — Dorman T. Shindler, The Denver Post

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"This is a narrative tour de force, exhibiting all the hallmarks the author is known for: fascinating subject matter, expert research and detailed, graceful prose. ...Simply put, this is history writing at its best from one of its top practitioners."

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743226714
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
05/24/2005
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
91,156
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Sovereign Duty

God save Great George our King,

Long live our noble King,

God save the King!

Send him victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign o'er us;

God save the King!

On the afternoon of Thursday, October 26, 1775, His Royal Majesty George III, King of England, rode in royal splendor from St. James's Palace to the Palace of Westminster, there to address the opening of Parliament on the increasingly distressing issue of war in America.

The day was cool, but clear skies and sunshine, a rarity in London, brightened everything, and the royal cavalcade, spruced and polished, shone to perfection. In an age that had given England such rousing patriotic songs as "God Save the King" and "Rule Britannia," in a nation that adored ritual and gorgeous pageantry, it was a scene hardly to be improved upon.

An estimated 60,000 people had turned out. They lined the whole route through St. James's Park. At Westminster people were packed solid, many having stood since morning, hoping for a glimpse of the King or some of the notables of Parliament. So great was the crush that latecomers had difficulty seeing much of anything.

One of the many Americans then in London, a Massachusetts Loyalist named Samuel Curwen, found the "mob" outside the door to the House of Lords too much to bear and returned to his lodgings. It was his second failed attempt to see the King. The time before, His Majesty had been passing by in a sedan chair near St. James's, but reading a newspaper so close to his face that only one hand was showing, "the whitest hand my eyes ever beheld with a very large rose diamond ring," Loyalist Curwen recorded.

The King's procession departed St. James's at two o'clock, proceeding at walking speed. By tradition, two Horse Grenadiers with swords drawn rode in the lead to clear the way, followed by gleaming coaches filled with nobility, then a clattering of Horse Guards, the Yeomen of the Guard in red and gold livery, and a rank of footmen, also in red and gold. Finally came the King in his colossal golden chariot pulled by eight magnificent cream-colored horses (Hanoverian Creams), a single postilion riding the left lead horse, and six footmen at the side.

No mortal on earth rode in such style as their King, the English knew. Twenty-four feet in length and thirteen feet high, the royal coach weighed nearly four tons, enough to make the ground tremble when under way. George III had had it built years before, insisting that it be "superb." Three gilded cherubs on top -- symbols of England, Scotland, and Ireland -- held high a gilded crown, while over the heavy spoked wheels, front and back, loomed four gilded sea gods, formidable reminders that Britannia ruled the waves. Allegorical scenes on the door panels celebrated the nation's heritage, and windows were of sufficient size to provide a full view of the crowned sovereign within.

It was as though the very grandeur, wealth, and weight of the British Empire were rolling past -- an empire that by now included Canada, that reached from the seaboard of Massachusetts and Virginia to the Mississippi and beyond, from the Caribbean to the shores of Bengal. London, its population at nearly a million souls, was the largest city in Europe and widely considered the capital of the world.

George III had been twenty-two when, in 1760, he succeeded to the throne, and to a remarkable degree he remained a man of simple tastes and few pretensions. He liked plain food and drank but little, and wine only. Defying fashion, he refused to wear a wig. That the palace at St. James's had become a bit dowdy bothered him not at all. He rather liked...

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Meet the Author

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
July 7, 1933
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education:
B.A., Yale University, 1955
Website:
http://authors.simonandschuster.com/David-McCullough/938

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