Overview

What is the myth of 1776?

To state it in its baldest terms: This was the one time in American life when idealism was truly in flower. Made possible by the purest form of patriotism, led by a soldier whom everyone adored - George Washington - who, in turn, was guided by a caucus of political geniuses in Philadelphia - the Continental Congress - sturdy farmers raced from their plows to hurl themselves into conflict with British mercenaries. ...
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1776

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Overview

What is the myth of 1776?

To state it in its baldest terms: This was the one time in American life when idealism was truly in flower. Made possible by the purest form of patriotism, led by a soldier whom everyone adored - George Washington - who, in turn, was guided by a caucus of political geniuses in Philadelphia - the Continental Congress - sturdy farmers raced from their plows to hurl themselves into conflict with British mercenaries. Never have so many great men, magnetic leaders, sprung from nowhere to guide a people infused with a beautiful enthusiasm for liberty.

In this book, New York Times bestselling historian Thomas Fleming explodes this myth by examining all the dimensions of that year - particularly the least known aspects of the common, fallible humanity of the men and women of the Revolution.

The year 1776 ended with both the Americans and the British stripped of their illusions. Both sides had been forced to abandon the myth of their invincibility and to confront the realities of human nature on the battlefield and in the struggle for allegiance to their causes.

For the Americans, it had been a shock to discover that it was easy to persuade people to cheer for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but it was another matter to persuade them to take large risks, to make real sacrifices for these ideals. For the British, their goal of achieving proper subordination of America to England was frustrated forever.

Seventeen seventy-six was a traffic year: Americans fighting in the name of liberty persecuted and sometimes killed fellow Americans who chose to remain loyal to the old order and its more circumscribed, yet sincere, commitment to freedom. Seventeen seventy-six was a heroic year: It brought forth the leaders who had the courage to fight for freedom. Seventeen seventy-six was a disgraceful year: Americans revealed a capacity for cowardice, disorganization, and incompetence.

Here, in this masterful book, is the true story of 1776.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940016743325
  • Publisher: New Word City, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 600
  • Sales rank: 25,709
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Thomas Fleming is one of the most respected and prolific historians and novelists of our time. He has written twenty nonfiction books that have won prizes and praise from critics and fellow historians, many with a special focus on the American Revolution. He has also written twenty-three historical novels, many of them bestsellers.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Good Material Flawed by Subjective Presentation

    Many of the myths and illusions Fleming debunks have been known to scholars of the Revolution upwards of fifty years. Still, many of them were potent then and now.

    This book explores the events and motives of both sides in the American struggle for independence. And, while the focus is properly placed on the actors in the field, the background deliberations in Philadelphia, London and Paris are not forgotten. The work depends heavily on primary sources of diaries and letters of the participants. Fleming's summary in the last pages is an excellent statement of his thesis and is well done.

    On the negative side, the author's opinions and snide asides riddle the book and diminish its credibility. After castigating both sides for believing that the struggle could be deciding by one dramatic action, Fleming avows "he probably could have ended the Revolution that afternoon." (August 28, 1776, p.359) Labeling actions "idiocy" and "ridiculous" may please a popular audience, but it reveals of subjectivism. He sets up straw men, such as "the myth of the omnipotent American rifle," that tumble at his mere suggestion. Fleming decries the eighteenth century Pennsylvania's abandonment of the "hallowed principle" of one man, one vote (p. 302) despite that standard's twentieth century origin. Perhaps Fleming tips his hand when he speculates (p. 467) what an "investigative reporter" might have made of the American conduct of the war. His product reflects the headline-seeking reporter rather than the reflective scholar.

    An observation: Fleming reports (p. 215), "By the change in weather on March 5, 'much blood was saved,' [Washington] told his brother John Augustine (Jack) Washington. 'This remarkable interposition of providence is for some wise purpose I have not a doubt.'" Washington won a battle by default which he would rather have fought (and possibly lost) by main force. Interestingly, Washington's great "victory" at Yorktown five years later was the same sort of non-battle. By then he was content.

    Solid, scholarly work marred by a breathless, emotional presentation.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    What I didn't know about the American Revolution would fill a bo

    What I didn't know about the American Revolution would fill a book - this one. What an eye-opening and mind-opening read. Well done, Thomas Fleming.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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