Book Ramblings: 1776

17761776 by David McCullough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first historical fiction in awhile. David McCullou provides and in-depth overview of the Continental Army under Washington from 1775 to the start of 1777 in this book. Though I am not well read on the period, it appears to be a balanced account as it acknowledges fault and talent in many of the men. It discusses the bonds and tensions between leading figures on both sides. The British receive a more cursory discussion but still have a significant presence.

McCullough’s writing is more about people than facts and figures, which made the narrative flow. He made extensive use of letters and journals as well as secondary material. There is a substantial list of sources and endnotes, although I was bothered that the endnotes were not numbered in the text of the book. I’m not sure if that was an editorial decision or one McCullough made.

The book was a good introduction to a tumultuous year that gets overshadowed by the Declaration of Independence. It shows how divided the colonies were and the hardships of short term enlistments. The casualty reports read a bit strangely after being at Civil War battlefields all week, but they were extensive for that time (1% of the whole population was a casualty where that was 2% during the Civil War).

Events touched upon in the book include the moving of guns from Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights, the British abandoning Boston, the Declaration, losses near New York, the capture of Charles Lee, and the victory at Trenton. The book focuses on George Washington with substantial emphasis on Henry Knowx and Nathanial Greene.

I found it interesting to see the relationship with Joseph Reed as well as the small part played by Nathan Hale that would be skewed as much larger later. The wealth of letters left behind was amazing as well as what people without formal training could do.

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