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1776 [Paperback]

David McCullough
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 4 2006
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.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestselling historian and two-time Pulitzer winner McCullough follows up John Adams by staying with America's founding, focusing on a year rather than an individual: a momentous 12 months in the fight for independence. How did a group of ragtag farmers defeat the world's greatest empire? As McCullough vividly shows, they did it with a great deal of suffering, determination, ingenuity—and, the author notes, luck.Although brief by McCullough's standards, 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. Throughout, McCullough deftly captures both sides of the conflict. The British commander, Lord General Howe, perhaps not fully accepting that the rebellion could succeed, underestimated the Americans' ingenuity. In turn, the outclassed Americans used the cover of night, surprise and an abiding hunger for victory to astonishing effect. Henry Knox, for example, trekked 300 miles each way over harsh winter terrain to bring 120,000 pounds of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, enabling the Americans, in a stealthy nighttime advance, to seize Dorchester Heights, thus winning the whole city.Luck, McCullough writes, also played into the American cause—a vicious winter storm, for example, stalled a British counterattack at Boston, and twice Washington staged improbable, daring escapes when the war could have been lost. Similarly, McCullough says, the cruel northeaster in which Washington's troops famously crossed the Delaware was both "a blessing and a curse." McCullough keenly renders the harshness of the elements, the rampant disease and the constant supply shortfalls, from gunpowder to food, that affected morale on both sides—and it certainly didn't help the British that it took six weeks to relay news to and from London. Simply put, this is history writing at its best from one of its top practitioners.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing July 25 2013
By John T C TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
There are so many positive aspects about 1776. I find the book a blessing in so many ways. After reading it, I now have a better understanding of the American Revolution. It is perhaps the best-researched history book that I have read on this subject. I particularly liked the depth the author gave to the major characters and even some of the minor ones as well. I particularly liked the way David McCullough did a marvelous job telling his story through history.
Other recently read books that treat a revolutionary era through narratives and dialogues through history are Disciples of Fortune,The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook: Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work,His Excellency: George Washington.I learned lots of details from 1776 and appreciated that fateful year for the US and England.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Jan. 28 2013
By Tom
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I read the book but somehow the author's voice seems to add that little extra element that takes you into the story as if you were there. Anyone interested in history written from the personal viewpoint of the active participants should get this book/audioCD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1776 and all that... Feb. 16 2006
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
David McCullough is fast becoming the most popular historian of Americana in the country. His books are the sort that run counter to publishing conventional wisdom - he regularly puts out large, thick 'tomes' on figures, places or events that might not be the best known in American history, yet because of his good research, eye for discernment and engaging writing style, the reading public continues to purchase and read the texts, eagerly waiting for more.
Therefore, how could McCullough's text on 1776 not be a success? Divided into three major sections, the story of the year 1776 is perhaps different in this retelling than typical story because McCullough confines himself to this one, fateful year, and does the telling without a great deal of back-interpretation that casts a better glow. When things look bleak, they are bleak - indeed, if one did not know the subsequent history, one might think at the end of this text that the American forces were destined to lose.
In some ways, this year could be entitled 'The Tale of Two Georges', and in his presentation of both Washington and King George, McCullough is careful to separate fact from later legendary accretions. The king was not the villain of later American schoolchildren's lore, and George Washington, while heroic, was still a human being faced with uncertain times and fallible decisions. However, it is in other characters that McCullough's talents really shine. One such figure is Nathanael Greene, the youngest general in the American army (McCullough said in an interview with Charlie Rose that Greene is perhaps his favourite character in this book).
The course of the narrative takes the reader back and forth from England to America, and looks both at the political and military issues in both places.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Squeaks out 5 stars March 8 2007
Format:Paperback
I am a reader who likes stories. I like my history books to be yarns, filled with the pertinent details. The problem is that many history books are composed of boring lists of facts and dates.

1776 is not. This is a book that keeps suspenseful, relevant and interesting throughout.

I was originally going to give 4 stars, but that is because of my prejudice towards history books. This book far surpasses the norm for the genre, and should be read by everyone interested in early American history.

Incidentally, the recruitment problems encountered by the American army are explained in another book, Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." This book portrays the war of independence as a war to further the economic interests of the ruling class. The poor had little to no interest in independence, and thus Washington and his army found themselves perpetually short of men.

Read 1776 if you like history
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5.0 out of 5 stars A keepsake purchase Dec 3 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful update of the fine historical book by David McCullough. The writing alone is easy to read and recounts in vivid detail how the Continental Army went from the height of success to the depths of despair in one short year. With everything looking like the revolution might end with a whimper, the year closes with the most unlikely of bold victories which can only be called the turning point of the war. The insight into General Washington's turmoil and triumph reveals just how pivotal this man was in holding together the hope of a new nation.

The story alone would make for engrossing reading. But the addition of over 140 beautiful illustrations and almost 40 reproductions of historical documents really make you feel like you are holding history in the palm of your hand. To read a letter signed by George Washington to his wife Martha, does so much more to bringing the story to life. And the documents are duplicated in every way including the worn and aged parchment quality. This feels less like a book and more like a piece of history to be treasured. A wonderful gift for anyone. Not only well written but a beautiful piece of literature as well.
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