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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


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.

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
"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

"A master story-teller's character driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution. A sterling account."
Kirkus, Starred Review

"...McCullough brilliantly captures the Spirit of '76 in Washington's miraculous victories at Trenton and Princeton. An altogether marvelous contribution that deserves to be read by every American."
Library Journal

"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

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.43(d)

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...

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 The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, 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

West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
July 7, 1933
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
B.A., Yale University, 1955

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1776 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 426 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this is a must read for every American and especially those who enjoy American history. It is amazing to see how common, ordinary men and women, who believed in the right of liberty and freedom from tyranny, overcame tremendous obstacles against a major world power to achieve their goals. David McCullough brings it all to life as he painstakingly describes the people, the battles, and the consequences of their actions. It is extremely heartwarming to see and feel the perseverance of these early settlers in overcoming extreme odds and suffering when they could have easily given up and succumbed to British rule. They even had to fight within their own ranks against the Tories and Loyalists who put personal gain above independence. I completed the book this week just as the John Adams miniseries is airing on HBO, which is superb as well. Thank you David for a wonderful work that serves to remind all Americans and others as well of the price we paid for freedom and of the inalienable rights of all men everywhere.
Victor24 More than 1 year ago
I don't usually give out perfect scores for movies or books because let's face it, even a great one probably won't be perfect.

But 1776 is absolutely perfect. From page one it pulls you in and takes you along for the ride. This is not a history book, this is an event. It reads like a movie and tells the dramatic story of the American Revolution.

Perfect marks, across the board. I'd recommend this for anyone who likes a good adventure/war story, regardless of whether or not they're a history buff. It's that good.
Pattifiddles More than 1 year ago
1776 was recommended to me by a friend that received her Phd in history.  I explained I needed a history book for a non historian - yet something that would help me grasp early American History - this is it!!!
SlapShot62 More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of fiction and many sports history books. Recently I began reading more about our nation's history and am learning so much more along the way. 1776 is one of those books that often reads like a novel, it is so compelling. Having grown up in NJ, being so very familiar with the "route" Washington and his troops took, working for years in Trenton and now living 5 miles from Washington's Crossing on the PA/NJ border, I am in awe of what our forefathers accomplished. Not only the ultimate victory of freeing our country, but what they faced in terms of the trials and tribulations of injury, illness, terrain, fierce weather conditions, etc. is beyond inspiring. A read of this book gives one a far greater appreciation for what we have been given in the United States by those who fought for our independence. McCullough is scholarly, but presents a book that anyone will enjoy. It certainly should be required reading in our high school history classes.
skicat More than 1 year ago
1776 was one of the best books I've read in a long time. I was never into reading about history but the book left me wanting to learn more. McCullough's style of writing and how he tells the story captivated me. I didn't want the book to end.
skydiverjess More than 1 year ago
Extremely well researched, and written only as David McCullough can, 1776 was a tremendously meticulous insight into both sides of the American Revolution. The stories intertwining and collaborating facts were very informative. At it's end, I wished it had continued all the way to the British surrender at York.
Americanreader More than 1 year ago
Gives the reader a feel for what our earliest american patriots went through to secure your liberty. Great insight into everyone from George Washington to the british parliment to the average soldier. In reading you should be suprised, humbled, and shown the history of the year 1776 in a way most will never know. If you consider yourself an proud american and a patriot you must read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Somehow he just makes history come alive - I thoroughly recommend the audiobook - the sound of his voice just takes you away to 1776 as you drive through awful 2009 traffic.
MikeMcCann More than 1 year ago
McCullogh always waits a bit to grab me, even in his two Pulitzer books (Truman & Adams) and 1776 is no exception. It is worth the wait. I came away with a much better sense of this historic quest, and the man and men who made it happen. Recommended if you are patient.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it
1000_Character_Reviews More than 1 year ago
1776 is a brilliantly written history of the military battles that took place during the most pivotal year of the fight for American independence. McCullough weaves historical facts, diary entries, direct quotations and illustrations together to form a fascinating tale that takes us from King George's address to parliament in October of 1775 all the way to the battles for Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey at the end of 1776. He provides great insight into how close the American dream of independence came to dying out. I'm still not sure how we were able to turn the revolution around. One unanticipated leadership lesson: Washington is always held up as a pinnacle of leadership to be duplicated...and this may have been true by the end of the war. The book shows a much greener Washington and provides an excellent example of the kind of damage indecision can cause. An exciting history lesson about the American Revolution that should probably be required reading in history classes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read, especially for someone in the Boston area. The history of the city during the British occupation are greatly detailed in the first few chapters. Battle descriptions can be a little confusing if you do not typically read books like this. I just wish this was the start of several more books that follow the remainder of the war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't get me wrong, this book is very well-written and very well researched, and it reads like a story. The information was very clearly presented, and the book's approach to the subject of the Revolutionary War was insightful and at times juicy. I learned a lot of about the Revolution that I did not previously know; but ... it took a long time to get through it. It was not exactly a page-turner, and I found myself forcing myself to read it just to finish it up. I think it would be more appropriate for scholarly reading and not leisurely reading.
Lovely_the_one_and_only More than 1 year ago
I'm not so sure about anybody else out there, but I hated it when my teachers would just talk and talk about history, personally I thought it would never end. Well, after reading this book I have a whole new appreciation for those brave individuals who fought in our very own Revolutionary War. This book is about history and no matter how boring it may sound, it's by far one of the best I've read. I believe that it would be a very good read for anyone in this era especially those loosing faith in the "American Dream" whatever that might be for you. 1776 if you haven't yet figured out is about the American Revolution and George Washington's struggle to restore faith into his men's heads. As you could imagine at the time, these simple men were no soldiers, but they were strong in facing the largest empire on earth it's okay to be scared of that every once in a while. From the first major offensive in Boston, to the last major offensive across the Delaware, this book will keep you interested, intrigued, and pumped to know more. It is a book about a historic event so it will be boring at times and one thing that I really didn't like is how it had those parts of the book where the author stopped telling you about what was going on, and he just started showing you evidence like letters, maps, etc. If you like that sort of thing then disregard that, but if not and you're like me, I skip over those things. The thing I really loved was the author's enthusiasm with ordinary men fighting against the highest trained and best equipped soldiers. I've felt this way lots of times before, and I'm so glad that someone finally published it this way about my favorite war of all time. Whenever I feel like I can't do something I just think about a this war and what these people fought and died for. In all, it was an excellent book that I would recommend to any American.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sorry to say I was dissappointed with this as I have become quite accustomed to much better from David McCullough. It seemed like the piece of a great story with the preample and epilogue missing. I kept wondering why he wrote it at all. It was like writing a book about the Civil War called '1863' and only focusing on the battles fought in that year. They were important, yes, but far from the entire story. In general, I think the quality of McCullough's books has proceeded downhill beginning with 'John Adams'. 'The Path Between the Seas', ' Mornings on Horseback' and 'Truman' were excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! It is a must read for anybody who is interested in the American Revolution. I saw it in the library and read it for school and I loved it so much I purchased a copy for myself. This gives a great insight into what Washington had to go through
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this fascinating novel, David McCullough describes the horror of the worst year during the American Revolution- 1776. He writes about the normal Patriots who, even though they were scared of the British, stood up to them under the command of General George Washington. McCullough's purpose was to get us to realize that normal people won the revolution. They were not all heros. Most of tht colonists were deserters, sick, plunderers, traitors and people who had no military experience at all. McCullough claims that George Washington got the army through 1776 with force and his extraordinary leadership. McCullough's goal was achieved and any reader of this novel would probably agree that McCullough makes a person willing to give thanks to the soldiers who died in the war for America's independence after reading about 1776, the year the Continental Army almost lost hope. My first impression of the cover of this book was that it was going to be just like what I learned from grade one to six. Boring American history. It ended up being so much more. McCullough dug deep into journals of soldiers and letters from George Washington himself, and compiled all of his findings to create this masterpiece that should be read by any highschooler or college student. It made me realize the torture the Continental Army had to go through to be free from Great Britain and to reach their goal. Freedom for everyone. Something we all cherish today. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the year their independence, that they have today, was most at stake and how General George Washington got the everyday colonists through 1776.
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I have read five of David McCullough's ten books and liked them all. He does extensive research and his writing style is extraordinary. His latest written about the Wright Brothers is also very good.
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