Washington's Crossing

( 39 )

Overview

Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost 90 percent of his army and was driven across the Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states.

Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, Washington -- and many other Americans -- refused to let the ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (4) from $67.75   
  • New (2) from $94.99   
  • Used (2) from $67.75   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$94.99
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(859)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand new and unread! Join our growing list of satisfied customers!

Ships from: Phoenix, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$95.00
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(72)

Condition: New
Cary, North Carolina, U.S.A. 2005 Hardcover Signed Limited Edition New in None Issued jacket Book. 12mo-over 6?"-7?" tall. Signed by the Author This is a New and Unread copy of ... the Signed, Numbered and Limited Edition in the publisher's decorated box as issued. No dust jaclket issued with this edition. Read more Show Less

Ships from: South Portland, ME

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Washington's Crossing

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$5.99
BN.com price
(Save 14%)$6.98 List Price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost 90 percent of his army and was driven across the Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states.

Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, Washington -- and many other Americans -- refused to let the Revolution die. Even as the British and Germans spread their troops across New Jersey, the people of the colony began to rise against them. George Washington saw his opportunity and seized it. On Christmas night, as a howling nor'easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis's best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington's men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer's richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. At the same time, they developed an American ethic of warfare that John Adams called "the policy of humanity," and showed that moral victories could have powerful material effects. The startling victories of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning, in a pivotal moment for American history.

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History

Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
On December 22, 1776, Washington’s adjutant wrote him that their affairs “were hasting fast to ruin.” Two weeks later, after a harrowing nighttime crossing of the ice-choked Delaware River, Washington’s victories at Trenton and Princeton so shocked the British that the price of government securities fell. Fischer’s thoughtful account describes how Washington, in a frantic, desperate month, turned his collection of troops into a professional force, not by emulating the Europeans but by coming up with a model that was distinctly American. The army Washington fielded had innovative artillery, moved with startling speed, and even, in one of the first recorded instances, synchronized its watches. Trenton convinced many Britons that they were caught in a quagmire, and Americans that they could win. “A few days ago they had given up the cause for lost,” a British businessman wrote. “Now they are all liberty mad again.”
The New York Times
Leutze's ''Washington Crossing the Delaware'' is a highly romanticized rendition of a pivotal moment in American history, Christmas night of 1776, painted 75 years after the event. David Hackett Fischer's new book, Washington's Crossing, is a highly realistic and wonderfully readable narrative of the same moment that corrects all the inaccuracies in the Leutze painting but preserves the overarching sense of drama. — Joseph J. Ellis
Publishers Weekly
At the core of an impeccably researched, brilliantly executed military history is an analysis of George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River in December 1776 and the resulting destruction of the Hessian garrison of Trenton and defeat of a British brigade at Princeton. Fischer's perceptive discussion of the strategic, operational and tactical factors involved is by itself worth the book's purchase. He demonstrates Washington's insight into the revolution's desperate political circumstances, shows how that influenced the idea of a riposte against an enemy grown overconfident with success and presents Washington's skillful use of what his army could do well. Even more useful is Fischer's analysis of the internal dynamics of the combatants. He demonstrates mastery of the character of the American, British and Hessian armies, highlighting that British troops, too, fought for ideals, sacred to them, of loyalty and service. Above all, Brandeis historian Fischer (Albion's Seed) uses the Trenton campaign to reveal the existence, even in the revolution's early stage, of a distinctively American way of war, much of it based on a single fact: civil and military leaders were accountable to a citizenry through their representatives. From Washington down, Fischer shows, military leaders acknowledged civil supremacy and worked with civil officials. Washington used firepower and intelligence as force multipliers to speed the war for a practical people who wanted to win quickly in order to return to their ordinary lives. Tempo, initiative and speed marked the Trenton campaign from first to last. And Washington fought humanely, extending quarter in battle and insisting on decent treatment of prisoners. The crossing of the Delaware, Fischer teaches, should be seen as emblematic of more than a turning of the war's tide. 91 halftone, 15 maps. 3-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Brandeis historian Fischer won a large and devoted following with Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in North America. His reading of the early settler communities' attitudes toward questions of liberty and government has influenced a generation of writers seeking to understand the differences between "red" and "blue" America today. In Washington's Crossing, Fischer looks at the darkest months of the American Revolution, when, following devastating defeats in New York and White Plains, Washington's tatterdemalion army, and the American cause, teetered on the brink of collapse. For Fischer, the story of how Washington rallied colonial opinion and rebuilt the army's spirit explains why the Americans were able to win their independence. Unlike the Howes (leading British aristocrats who commanded the formidably equipped British naval and land forces), Washington had to cajole, persuade, and win over a multicultural mob of colonial politicians, officers, and soldiers. Washington, Fischer argues, was doing more than winning a war in these months; he was inventing a style of leadership and a form of politics well suited to American realities.
Library Journal
Most Americans still know the famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware but fewer recall the significance of the event it depicts. Fischer (history, Brandeis; Albion's Seed) puts this pivotal event back into context 5the course of world history. The 1776 campaign was a disaster for the Continental Army. The Howe brothers' organized and successful strategy had roundly defeated the Americans in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Compounding this was disarray among American commanders, a lack of discipline among the troops, and most enlistments expiring. Many on both sides felt that the rebellion was broken. Washington's bold offensive across the Delaware arguably saved the American cause. The Hessian defeat at Trenton and later at Princeton rejuvenated American hopes and saved Washington's command. In this well-written and -documented history, the author relies on an impressive mix of primary and secondary sources. The firsthand accounts and personal stories of major players from both sides add color to the narrative. The book features copious illustrations; maps; numerous appendixes including troop strength, casualties, weather, and Battle Order; and an excellent historiography of the event. Scholarly but very readable, it is recommended for libraries with an interest in early American history.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Another stirring effort by the author of Paul Revere's Ride (Oxford, 1994). Readers will again cheer American perseverance, inventiveness, and improvisation as Washington, his officers, and their men turn the early military defeats of Long Island and New York City into victory at Trenton and Princeton. The opening chapter is devoted to the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware. Then the author discusses the British, Hessian, and American military units that were involved in these campaigns and gives background on their officers. This is Fischer's strong suit: he tells stories and gives details that bring history alive. He makes the point that decisions made for varying reasons by converging sets of people determine history. In the hands of such a thorough researcher and talented writer, this is powerful stuff. The bulk of the book deals with the battles and their aftermath. The text is enriched by small reproductions of portraits, many by Charles Willson Peale, of the major players. The last chapter summarizes Fischer's points and would make a good teaching tool by itself.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lively reconstruction of the Continental Army's finest strategic hour. Textbook accounts of Washington's Christmas crossing of the Delaware River are fine as they go. But why did Washington brave the ice-clogged tide in the first place, especially when he would face a supposedly much superior force of British and Hessian troops on the other side? Well, historian Fischer (Paul Revere's Ride, 1994, etc.) answers, the British and Hessians had been beaten up pretty badly in New Jersey throughout the fall of 1776 by American guerrillas, who defied military convention and fought in plain clothes, believing "that they had a natural right to take up arms in defense of their laws and liberties." This uprising, Fischer continues, "created an opportunity for George Washington," who "made the most of it, in a battle that was itself a war of contingencies." The Hessians weren't drunk on Christmas cheer, as the legend has it, when Washington surprised them at dawn (in truth, well past dawn); they were exhausted, having been dogged into near-submission by those guerrillas-women and men-and virtually imprisoned behind the fences and stone walls of Trenton. Washington receives due credit in Fischer's account for seizing the initiative in the face of near-rebellion on the part of supposed comrades such as General Horatio Gates, who declined to take part in operations; his soldiers receive credit too, and so do the British, and so even do the Hessians, each in their turn. Fischer's rendering of the battle and the events leading up to and following it is richly detailed and full of surprises. Who knew that the roads to Trenton were full on that sleety, pitch-black night with farmers and woodcutters, withyoung men out courting, with ministers tending to their flocks? Who knew, against the legend, that the "American attackers had twice as many guns in proportion to infantry than did the Hessian garrison"? A superb addition to the literature of the Revolution, by one of the best chroniclers in the business.
From the Publisher

"A meticulous and brilliantly colored account of the period surrounding George Washington's famous sally across the Delaware river in 1776."--Wall Street Journal

"Fisher's thoughtful account describes how Washington, in a frantic, desparate month, turned his collection of troops into a professional force, not by emulating Europeans but by coming up with a model that was distinctly American."--The New Yorker

"History at its best, fascinating in its details, magisterial in its sweep."--Boston Globe

"Perhaps most valuable is Fischer's portrait of Washington. Instead of presenting the Napoleonic hero of the painting, he shows a proud youth who evolved into a humble democratic leader."--Newsweek

"Fischer...describes in moving detail the military campaign of 1776-1777 and the British, German and American soldiers who fought it. As in the familiar 1850 painting by Emmanuel Leutze that inspired Fischer's title, Washington stands firmly at the book's center. His actions as commander of the American army were pivotal for both his future and that of the fledgling American republic."--Washington Post Book World

"A model of modern historical writing."--National Review

"A highly realistic and wonderfully readable narrative.... Fischer's ability to combine the panoramic with the palpable is unparalleled in giving us a glimpse of what warfare back then was really like."--The New York Times Book Review

"A tale told with gusto, punctuated by finely rendered accounts of battles and tactics.... Helps us understand anew a great American icon."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195224108
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History Series
  • Edition description: Deluxe Edition
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hackett Fischer is University Professor at Brandeis University, and the author of such acclaimed volumes as Albion's Seed, The Great Wave, Paul Revere's Ride and Liberty and Freedom

Biography

A professor at Brandeis University, David Hackett Fischer is the author of several noted books on history, including Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement, The Great Wave: Price Movements in Modern History, Paul Revere's Ride, and Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. He is co-editor, with James M. McPherson, of the Pivotal Moments in American History series published by Oxford University Press. A graduate of Princeton and Johns Hopkins Universities, he divides his time between homes in Massachusetts and Maine.

Author biography courtesy of Oxford University Press.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Wayland, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 2, 1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Education:
      A.B., Princeton University, 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1962

Read an Excerpt

WASHINGTON'S CROSSING


By DAVID HACKETT FISCHER

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2004 David Hackett Fischer
All right reserved.


Introduction

* The Painting

That was the residence of the principal citizen, all the way from the suburbs of New Orleans to the edge of St. Louis.... Over the middle of the mantel, engraving-Washington Crossing the Delaware; on the wall by the door, copy of it done in thunder-and-lightning crewel made Washington hesitate about crossing, if he could have foreseen what advantage to be taken of it. -Mark Twain, 1883

WASHINGTON'S CROSSING!" the stranger said with a bright smile of recognition. Then a dark frown passed across his face. "Was it like the painting?" he said. "Did it really happen that way?"

The image that he had in mind is one of the folk-memories that most Americans share. It represents an event that happened on Christmas night in 1776, when a winter storm was lashing the Delaware Valley with sleet and snow. In our mind's eye, we see a great river choked with ice, and a long line of little boats filled with horses, guns, and soldiers. In the foreground is the heroic figure of George Washington.

The painting is familiar to us in a general way, but when we look again its details take us by surprise. Washington's small boat is crowded with thirteen men. Their dress tells us that they are soldiers from many parts of America, and each of them has a story that is revealed by a few strokes of the artist's brush. One man wears the short tarpaulin jacket of a New England seaman; we look again and discover that he is of African descent. Another is a recent Scottish immigrant, still wearing his Balmoral bonnet. A third is an androgynous figure in a loose red shirt, maybe a woman in man's clothing, pulling at an oar.

At the bow and stern of the boat are hard-faced western riflemen in hunting shirts and deerskin leggings. Huddled between the thwarts are farmers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, in blanket coats and broad-brimmed hats. One carries a countryman's double-barreled shotgun. The other looks very ill, and his head is swathed in a bandage. A soldier beside them is in full uniform, a rarity in this army; he wears the blue coat and red facings of Haslet's Delaware Regiment. Another figure wears a boat cloak and an oiled hat that a prosperous Baltimore merchant might have used on a West Indian voyage; his sleeve reveals the facings of Smallwood's silk-stocking Maryland Regiment. Hidden behind them is a mysterious thirteenth man. Only his weapon is visible; one wonders who he might have been.

The dominant figures in the painting are two gentlemen of Virginia who stand tall above the rest. One of them is Lieutenant James Monroe, holding a big American flag upright against the storm. The other is Washington in his Continental uniform of buff and blue. He holds a brass telescope and wears a heavy saber, symbolic of a statesman's vision and a soldier's strength. The artist invites us to see each of these soldiers as an individual, but he also reminds us that they are all in the same boat, working desperately together against the wind and current. He has given them a common sense of mission, and in the stormy sky above he has painted a bright prophetic star, shining through a veil of cloud.

Most Americans recognize this image, and many remember its name. It is Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted by Emanuel Leutze in 1850. Today it hangs in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visitors who are used to seeing it in reproduction are startled by its size, twelve feet high and twenty feet wide.

The painting itself has a history. The artist was a German American immigrant of strong liberal democratic principles, who returned to his native land and strongly supported the Revolutions of 1848. In the midst of that struggle Emanuel Leutze conceived the idea of a painting that would encourage Europe with the example of the American Revolution. His inspiration was a poem by Ferdinand Freiligarth called "Ça Ira," which created the image of a vessel filled with determined men:

"You ask astonished: "What's her name?" To this question there's but one solution, And in Austria and Prussia it's the same: The ship is called: "Revolution!"

In 1848 and 1849, Leutze began to work on the great canvas. An early study survives, complete only for vivid figures of Washington and Monroe and a single soldier. It is painted in strong primary colors, bright with hope and triumph. After he started, the European revolutions failed, but the artist kept working on his project in a different mood. The colors turned somber, and the painting came to center more on struggle than triumph. Leutze recruited American tourists and art students in Europe to serve as models and assistants. Together they finished the painting in 1850.

Just after it was completed, a fire broke out in the artist's studio, and the canvas was damaged in a curious way. The effect of smoke and flame was to mask the central figures of Washington and Monroe in a white haze, while the other men in the boat remained sharp and clear. The ruined painting became the property of an insurance company, which put it on public display. Even in its damaged state it won a gold medal in Berlin and was much celebrated in Europe. It became part of the permanent collection of the Bremen Art Museum. There it stayed until September 5, 1942, when it was destroyed in a bombing raid by the British Royal Air Force, in what some have seen as a final act of retribution for the American Revolution.

Emanuel Leutze painted another full-sized copy, and sent it to America in 1851, where it caused a sensation. In New York more than fifty thousand people came to see it, among them the future novelist Henry James, who was then a child of eight. Many years later he remembered that no impression in his youth "was half so momentous as that of the epoch-making masterpiece of Mr. Leutze, which showed us Washington crossing the Delaware, in a wondrous flare of projected gaslight and with the effect of a revelation." Henry James recalled that he "gaped responsive at every item, lost in the marvel of wintry light, of the sharpness of the ice-blocks, the sickness of the sick soldier." Most of all he was inspired by the upright image of Washington, by "the profiled national hero's purpose, as might be said, of standing up, as much as possible, even indeed of doing it almost on one leg, in such difficulties."

The great painting went to the city of Washington and was exhibited in the Rotunda of the National Capitol. Northerners admired it as a symbol of freedom and union; southerners liked it as an image of liberty and independence. When the Civil War began, it was used to raise money for the Union Cause and the antislavery movement. The presence of an African American in the boat was not an accident; the artist was a strong abolitionist.

In 1897, private collector John S. Kennedy bought the painting for the extravagant sum of $16,000, and gave it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There it remained until 1950, when romantic history paintings passed out of fashion among sophisticated New Yorkers. It was sent away to the Dallas Art Museum in Texas, and then to Washington Crossing State Park in Pennsylvania, where it stayed until 1970.

Among the American people the painting never passed out of fashion. Many cherish it as an image of patriotism, and they have reproduced it in icons of wood, metal, ceramics, textiles. It appeared on postage stamps, dinner plates, place mats, key rings, coffee mugs, and tee shirts. By the mid-twentieth century the painting was so familiar that artists quoted its image without explanation, not always in a reverent way. Cartoonists invented angry satires of Nixon Crossing the Delaware, Ronald Reagan Crossing the Caribbean, Feminists Crossing the Rubicon, and Multiculturalists Rocking the Boat.

American iconoclasts made the painting a favorite target. Postmodernists studied it with a skeptical eye and asked, "Is this the way that American history happened? Is it a way that history ever happens? Are any people capable of acting in such a heroic manner?" The iconoclasts answered all of those questions in the negative, and they debunked the painting with high enthusiasm. On National Public Radio in 2002, commentator Ina Jaffe argued at length that Emanuel Leutze's painting bore little resemblance to "historical reality," and she recited a long list of its "historical flaws." As other critics had done, she pointed out correctly that the flag was wrong; the Stars and Stripes was not adopted until 1777. "What's more," Ms. Jaffe added, warming to her work, "the boats used by the Continental army were different, the time of day is wrong (it was actually night), and the jagged chunks of ice floating near the boat would have been smoothed over by the flow of the river." She complained that the painting was not merely inaccurate but absurd. Her favorite example was the same detail that inspired young Henry James: George Washington was not only standing in the boat; he was standing on one leg. Ms. Jaffe declared, "There's no way Washington could have stood up for the journey without losing his footing and being tossed into the freezing water."

The debunkers were right about some of the details in the painting, but they were wrong about others, and they rarely asked about the accuracy of its major themes. To do so is to discover that the larger ideas in Emanuel Leutze's art are true to the history that inspired it. The artist was right in creating an atmosphere of high drama around the event, and a feeling of desperation among the soldiers in the boats. To search the writings of the men and women who were there (hundreds of firsthand accounts survive) is to find that they believed the American cause was very near collapse on Christmas night in 1776. In five months of heavy fighting after the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's army had suffered many disastrous defeats and gained no major victories. It had lost 90 percent of its strength. The small remnant who crossed the Delaware River were near the end of their resources, and they believed that another defeat could destroy the Cause, as they called it. The artist captured very accurately their sense of urgency, in what was truly a pivotal moment for American history.

Further, the painting is true to the scale of that event, which was small by the measure of other great happenings in American history. At Trenton on December 26, 1776, 2,400 Americans fought 1,500 Hessians in a battle that lasted about two hours. By contrast, at Antietam in the American Civil War, 115,000 men fought a great and terrible battle that continued for a day. The Battle of the Bulge, in the Second World War, involved more than a million men in fighting that went on for more than a month. By those comparisons, Washington's Crossing was indeed a very small event, and the artist was true to its dimensions.

But the painting also reminds us that size is not a measure of significance. The little battles of the American Revolution were conflicts between large historical processes, and the artist knew well what was at stake. He understood better than many Americans that their Revolution was truly a world event. We shall see that Washington's Crossing and the events that followed had a surprising impact, not only in America but in Britain and Germany and throughout the world.

Emanuel Leutze also understood that something more was at issue in this event. The small battles near the Delaware were a collision between two discoveries about the human condition that were made in the early modern era. One of them was the discovery that people could organize a society on the basis of liberty and freedom, and could actually make it work. The ideas themselves were not new in the world, but for the first time, entire social and political systems were constructed primarily on that foundation.

Another new discovery was about the capacity of human beings for order and discipline. For many millennia, people had been made to serve others, but this was something more than that. It was an invention of new methods by which people could be trained to engage their will and creativity in the service of another: by drill and ritual, reward and punishment, persuasion and belief. Further, they could be trained to do so not as slaves or servants or robots, but in an active and willing way.

These two discoveries began as altruisms, and developed rapidly in the age of the Enlightenment, not only in Europe and America but in Ch'ing China and Mughal India and around the world. Together they define a central tension in our modern condition, more so than new technology or growing wealth. As ideas they were not opposites, but they were often opposed, and they collided in the American Revolution. In 1776, a new American army of free men fought two modern European armies of order and discipline. When the conflict began in earnest, during the late summer and fall of 1776, the forces of order won most of the major battles, but an army of free men won the winter campaign that followed. They did so not by imitating a European army of order, a profound error in historical interpretations of the War of Independence, but by developing the strengths of an open system in a more disciplined way.

Emanuel Leutze's painting shows only one side of this great struggle, but the artist clearly understood what it was about. He represented something of its nature in his image of George Washington and the men who soldiered with him. The more we learn about Washington, the greater his contribution becomes, in developing a new idea of leadership during the American Revolution. Emanuel Leutze brings it out in a tension between Washington and the other men in the boat. We see them in their diversity and their stubborn autonomy. These men lived the rights they were defending, often to the fury of their commander-in-chief. The painting gives us some sense of the complex relations that they had with one another, and also with their leader. To study them with their general is to understand what George Washington meant when he wrote, "A people unused to restraint must be led; they will not be drove." All of these things were beginning to happen on Christmas night in 1776, when George Washington crossed the Delaware. Thereby hangs a tale.



Excerpted from WASHINGTON'S CROSSING by DAVID HACKETT FISCHER Copyright © 2004 by David Hackett Fischer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Maps viii
Editor's Note ix
Introduction 1
The Rebels 7
The Regulars 31
The Hessians 51
The Plan of the Campaign 66
The Fall of New York 81
The Retreat 115
The Crisis 138
The Occupation 160
The Opportunity 182
The River 206
The March 221
The Surprise 234
Hard Choices 263
Good Ground 277
The Bridge 290
Two Councils 308
The Battle at Princeton 324
Aftermath 346
Conclusion 363
Appendices 380
Historiography 425
Bibliography 459
Abbreviations 487
Notes 488
Sources for Maps 545
Acknowledgments 547
Index 551
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2009

    Washington's Crossing: A Pivotal Decision in America's History

    The title Washington's Crossing, with a cover illustration of the famous painting, caught my eye: I bought it, feeling vaguely guilty about not knowing much about an event considered significant enough to be mentioned in President Obama's inaugural address.

    Thinking that this would be simply another history book, I had an exciting surprise: page after page of action and suspense! The author begins with a brief overview of how the painting on the cover had been reworked over the years to suit the views of the times. Adept at demolishing the arguments of 'debunkers', Fischer shows, for example, how it would have been unwise for Washington to have sat in the boat rather than stand, as some critics (who know little about leaking eighteenth-century boats) have complained!

    Above all, Washington's Crossing is a drama of fascinating individuals; like the doctor who decided to join the small patriot army just before the scheduled crossing, as it marched past his front yard. This was the doctor who would save the life of a future president (James Monroe) when his artery was severed in the battle that followed. Also, the memorable young husband who loved his expensive house so much that he changed sides to Britain hoping to protect it, only to find it ransacked and used to quarter soldiers.

    Those who fought (a motley assembly, sneeringly termed 'peasants' by the British) were drawn from all over the colonies, and had to be organized into some semblance of an army, willing to drag cannons, wagons, horses, and themselves through the snow, sleet, and blackness of winter. The man who led them (considered 'awesome' by all who knew him) is portrayed as having both the virtues and the failings of humankind. Washington's doubts, his mistakes, and his rare but fearsome flares of anger, are all documented-gleaned from the letters of the men who served with him, and from those written by Washington himself.

    At a time in the ongoing struggles against the British when many had given up hope, Washington's decision to cross the Delaware on Christmas night in order to surprise the enemy marked the beginning of America as a free nation. The accounts of men hoisting tons of armament down muddy ravines on their way to the ice-clogged river, the bleeding feet of soldiers wearing rags for boots, the lashing north winds, and Washington's horse suddenly slipping in the darkness-these and many other poignant details are evocative of just what the 'reality' of the American Revolution consisted.

    A brilliant book: anyone who still deems it 'politically incorrect' to have feelings of patriotism will be hard-pressed to maintain that attitude after reading Washington's Crossing.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2005

    WASHINGTON'S CROSSING - AS EXCITING AS A NOVEL

    MR. FISCHER HAS PUT IN AN OUTSTANDING EFFORT IN HIS RESEARCH FOR THIS VOLUME. THE FOOTNOTES ARE NOT ONLY PROLIFIC BUT TIMELY AND INFORMATIVE. I WAS TURNING THE PAGES AS I WOULD A TOM CLANCY NOVEL. MR. FISCHER IS AMERICA'S ANSWER TO HUGH THOMAS. HOWEVER, THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS THE MAPS. THE MAPS ARE NUMEROUS AND INFORMATIVE AND GIVE ONE A CLEAR VIEW OF THE ACTION. THANK YOU MR. FISCHER FOR A GREAT BOOK!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    All the details they don't cover in school

    I read history primarily. I love all the details that make the story feel like I am there. Fischer does a good job of bring those details to life without making it too long and too drawn out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 13, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    History That Reads Like a Novel

    If Washington's Crossing was assigned reading in high school I would have had an instant love for American history instead of treating the subject as one of many dull tasks to get through the week. The book makes it clear that Washington's brazen courage in the face of impossible odds is what made it possible for this this country to be independent. The successes of his campaigns are clearly not just rational intelligence, but also incredible luck and fortunate timing. Any cautious general could not have won this war, and without this war's success there would not be Americans. I found this book so fascinating that I read it straight though in a handful of days, finding time wherever possible. The book begins by setting the stage of world events that led to the conflict and the need for American independence, then it outlined the political and military forces on either side. It described the poor conditions of the Colonial troops compared to the enemy's, then went through the successive battles that led to the crossing of Delaware. Until I read this book, I never really knew what it was all about. Thankfully I ran across this extraordinarily well written account of a pivotal time in American history. I recommend this to anyone, not just people interested in the history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2005

    Spectacular!

    I can't rate this book high enough. This was one of those rare books where the reader is actually sorry when he finishes it, because he wants to keep reading. The footnotes are as entertaining as the text. This book should be read by every American!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 4, 2014

    An amazing tale!

    Forget everything you thought you knew about the story of the General's audacious crossing of the Delaware on a cold and snowy Christmas night. This book puts you right in the middle of a savage storm in which the troops marched and fought for 60 hours with barely any clothing and many without shoes. This is a miraculous triumph of courage and sheer will. A story EVERY American should read in order to more fully appreciate the sacrifices made for our freedom. This country was founded by extremely courageous men willing to die for their beliefs. Are you?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2012

    Good, worth viewing

    Liked the film. Historically it is not very accurate. If nothing else, the weather depicted in the film was nothing like the storm that was going on. There was even some sunshine. Gen. Washington had a slave/companion in real life. Man named Lee. Not in the film at all.

    Well acted.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Wonderful! Everyone should own this one!

    Great Book - not only did i get the Ebook, but also a Hard back. This one is a keeper. Very thorough, lots of details. NOT BORING! Also check out his book on Paul Revere! another excellent book by David Hackett Fischer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2006

    Great read!

    Fischer did nothing to change my opinion of him as our premier historian. The book is difficult to put down, the sources superb, and the story terrific!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2005

    2 thumbs up

    Brilliant. This guy turned actual history into an exciting fast paced read. I intend to read others by him.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2005

    History come to life

    This is a great book. It takes a small part of the Revolution and makes it come to life. It also reads like a novel. I found myself looking forward to reading it every night. Far superior to Ellis' recent work on Washington.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2004

    American History in the Balance

    This book had generated considerable enthusiasm and earns every ounce of it. As usual, Fischer provides a way to integrate immense historical detail with an overview of the his subject¿s importance, and keeps it all famously readable. The charge about poor proofreading is generally overstated: one reviewer comments about the British invading ¿the island¿ in Rhode Island, and seems to miss the fact that the British did invade Newport, which is on the island that is part of the state. There is a minor confusion about British Army regiments. Since Fischer provides a complete order of battle for the forces involved in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, it is easy enough to sort out. As other reviewers have noted, Fischer¿s end-chapters on historiography are just as entertaining and enlightening as the history itself. This book delivers on the intent of the entire series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2004

    Yet Again

    This book is just as exciting as Paul Revere's Ride and leaves the reader wondering how the story would have changed if certain contigencies did not occur. From his revolutionary war class to Paul Revere's Ride to Washington's Crossing, Professor Fischer keeps history alive and exciting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    a must read for all americans

    the last few pages are worth the price alone. this is a gem and will be the standard on the subject for a generation. thank God for people like David Hackett Fischer to help us understand ourselves. BRAVO!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2004

    Did anyone edit this book?

    Not much new here. Somewhat confusing to read and filled with inaccuracies. Here is one of my favorites from the chapter entitled Retreat where we learn that the state of Rhode Island is in fact an island. 'Admiral Howe would move by sea and occupy Rhode Island as they had long planned: not the entire province but the island itself and the town of Newport. The prosperous farms on the island and the great plantations of the Narragansett could supply much of the army through the winter.' Need I say more?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2004

    First rate narrative history

    This book is every bit as good as the author's Paul Revere's Ride, which is very good indeed. Solid historical scholarship, new insights and it reads like a thriller (it is one). The historiographical essay alone is worth the price of the book. Fischer writes history as the story of people making decisions in difficult circumstances - which is what it really is despite the varied nonsense of historical theory. I hope that we will see many more volumes from the author that put us in the midst of the suffering and sacrifice that gave us a nation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2003

    great Revolutionary War account

    Renowned historian David Hackett Fischer provides a terrific look at the famous General Washington as he led the crossing of the iced Delaware River during Christmas 1776. On the surface, it would have appeared lunacy to cross to the other side to face an alleged much superior force of professional enemy soldiers. However, Professor Hackett points out that the overwhelming odds were in reality not quite so insurmountable. During much of the year, the American rag tag army developed a new form of fighting suited to the land and much more flexible than the rigidity of the British troops and their Hessian mercenaries. Some myths that Professor Fischer debunks include the Hessians were not drunk, but bone weary from constant assault from guerillas and the weapon differential between the two forces was not even close to the legends. Finally the road to Trenton was filled with people not involved in the upcoming skirmish, but going about their everyday lives. <P>This is a great account that gives each side its proper due and criticism, but mostly praises Washington who saw the opportunity, had the means, and understood the strategic importance of a victory at Trenton. The battle is fully described so that armchair five star generals can understand what really happened and even reenact it. American History buffs will appreciate this powerful, vivid look at a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War, but even mythos believers like this reviewer can now discuss the significance of what really occurred at Trenton. <P>Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)