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.
1776by Thomas Fleming
The year 1776 ended with both the Americans and the British stripped of their illusions. Each side had been forced to abandon the myth of
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In this New York Times bestseller, historian Thomas Fleming examines all the dimensions of the memorable year of 1776 - particularly the common, fallible humanity of the men and women of the American Revolution.
The year 1776 ended with both the Americans and the British stripped of their illusions. Each side had been forced to abandon the myth of invincibility and confront the realities of human nature on and off the battlefield.
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 convince them 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 tragic year: Americans fighting in the name of liberty persecuted and sometimes killed fellow Americans who chose to remain loyal to the old order. Seventeen seventy-six was a year of heroes: 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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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.
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.
Really really good!
I cannot give this book any stars, I was forced to give one to submit my review. It became a challenge to finish it! I did see this book made into a movie while reading same. I thought the movie might be better. I turned the movie off after 3 minutes. If you have trouble falling asleep, this book is for you. Dreadful!