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 than words on paperBased on extensive research in both American and British archives,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, an his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little knownAt the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no of war than what they had read in books Nathaniel Green, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty three, and Henry Knox, a twenty five year old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of WinterBut it is the American commander in chief who stands foremost Washington, who had never before led an army in battle Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough sis another landmark in the literature of American history


10 thoughts on “1776

  1. Diane Diane says:

    There are several reasons why I think this book is important, and it has a lot to do with the state of our schools You ve probably heard that public education in America is becomingof a shambles each decade I work at a college and often feel like I m on the front lines of this battle While we have a number of good students, we also have a fair number 18 and 19 year olds who simply aren t prepared for higher education and who, if the economy weren t so degree oriented, probably wouldn t There are several reasons why I think this book is important, and it has a lot to do with the state of our schools You ve probably heard that public education in America is becomingof a shambles each decade I work at a college and often feel like I m on the front lines of this battle While we have a number of good students, we also have a fair number 18 and 19 year olds who simply aren t prepared for higher education and who, if the economy weren t so degree oriented, probably wouldn t choose to go to college at all A number of factors have been blamed for the decline of American schools, but one of the biggest culprits in my opinion is the overemphasis on standardized testing, especially as codified by the dreadful No Child Left Behind Act.Both students and teachers have complained that high schools place so much emphasis on memorizing facts for the annual tests that it leaves little room for critical thinking, or interesting stories of history and literature, or anything else that makes learning fun and inspiring I think this is a travesty, and it s not just the students who are being cheated it is all of society, because without an educated citizenry we are lost.We Are Lost.Every time I see the title of McCullough s book, 1776, it reminds me of this issue because of an incident in a colleague s classroom An English professor was making a point about how people today rely so much on their smartphones and the Internet that no one bothers to remember anything any because they assume they can just Google it The professor pointed out that this lack of internal knowledge can hinder understanding and complex thinking As an example he asked his students when America was founded Dead silence There were about 30 students in the class, and none of them knew The professor said, Seriously You don t know when our country was founded After a fewmoments of silence a student meekly raised his hand and said, If we didn t have to memorize it for the test, we probably don t know it Big sigh.OK, boys and girls, America was founded on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress This event happened in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, which is the focus of McCullough s book I wanted to read 1776 for several reasons First, I had loved McCullough s biography on President Harry Truman and was eager to readof his books Second, it has been almost 20 years since I was in an American history class, and I wanted to revisit the details of how my country was founded The stories, myths and legends about each nation are passed through the generations and become part of someone s culture and identity I don t think these stories should be forgotten.The book focuses on battles with the British between 1775 and 1777 It opens with a quote from a letter written by General George Washington in January 1776 The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep Few people know the predicament we are in Reading this book reminded me of how fragile America s independence was Few of the rebels had military experience Weapons and gun powder were in short supply Because the colonial men had volunteered to fight, some resisted following military orders and didn t understand army discipline Plus, the Brits controlled the sea But for a few lucky turns of fate, the British might have won the war McCullough concluded the book with this summation Especially for those who had been with Washington and who knew what a close call it was at the beginning how often circumstance, storms, contrary winds, the oddities or strengths of individual character had made the difference the outcome seemed little short of a miracle My favorite stories in the book were of the fortification of Dorchester Heights during the Siege of Boston, the Battle of Long Island and how the colonialists managed to retreat the entire Army in one night, and Washington s crossing of the Delaware McCullough weaves a pleasant narrative and makes long ago events seem very real I liked his inclusion of quotes from letters, and the details of each military strategy, including how the weather was that day And his description of Washington made me want to read a good biography about him.I listened to this on audio CD, and McCullough is an excellent narrator I highly recommend it to fans of history Hooray for lifelong learning


  2. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    David McCullough image from Ohio Magazine This is an interesting book that describes in personal detail the battles of the early revolution We see George and company in Boston, New York City, Pennsylvania and New Jersey McCullough paints portraits of the military leaders of those campaigns, Howe primarily, and Clinton for the Brits, Greene, Knox, GW and a handful of others for the Yanks He shows us some of GW s correspondence and we learn of his disaffection for New Englanders The troops David McCullough image from Ohio Magazine This is an interesting book that describes in personal detail the battles of the early revolution We see George and company in Boston, New York City, Pennsylvania and New Jersey McCullough paints portraits of the military leaders of those campaigns, Howe primarily, and Clinton for the Brits, Greene, Knox, GW and a handful of others for the Yanks He shows us some of GW s correspondence and we learn of his disaffection for New Englanders The troops were a rag tag bunch and George was constantly strained to keep them from running away, serving out their enlistments and going home, dying of various diseases I did not have much of a sense of how much Tory sympathy there was until reading this If Edward R Murrow was still about I suppose it would have made a pretty fair episode of You are There It was an entertaining as well as informative read


  3. Lyn Lyn says:

    Pulitzer prizes are sexy This chronicles Washington s army from just after Bunker Hill to the dramatic crossing of the Delaware and his Christmas attack of the Hessians at Trenton Well researched and superbly written, very entertaining McCullough paints a vivid portrait of legendary time Pulitzer prizes are sexy This chronicles Washington s army from just after Bunker Hill to the dramatic crossing of the Delaware and his Christmas attack of the Hessians at Trenton Well researched and superbly written, very entertaining McCullough paints a vivid portrait of legendary time


  4. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    In 1776 David McCullough captures the importance of that year s quintessential struggle for our country.By focusing on this single year, as opposed to the entire war, McCullough is able to dissectminutely the individual battles, turning points, specific leaders, and the result is one of the most humanistic depictions of George Washington I ve ever read Here he becomesthan mythic god of the American past, but rather a living, breathing, flawed man Telescoping in on actions like The In 1776 David McCullough captures the importance of that year s quintessential struggle for our country.By focusing on this single year, as opposed to the entire war, McCullough is able to dissectminutely the individual battles, turning points, specific leaders, and the result is one of the most humanistic depictions of George Washington I ve ever read Here he becomesthan mythic god of the American past, but rather a living, breathing, flawed man Telescoping in on actions like The Battle of Long Island, oft overlooked in American Revolution text with a broader view, gives the reader a chance to appreciate the ebb and flow of the war, as the retreating Patriots fled the rushing sweep of the oncoming British force and turned what might have been their ultimate defeat into an amazing escape during the almost magical midnight evacuation of New York Conjuring up such exciting scenes is McCullough s bread and butter While the American Revolution was not fought entirely on moralistic principles about freedom many a founding father had a financial stake in this idea of independence , in view of the trials and deprivations suffered by those who fought in 1776, who s valor helped coin the phrase The Spirit of 76 , who can deny their pure motives Even if you can t stomach such patriotism, you can at least admire the courage it must of taken to face such odds I ve read McCullough before His The Johnstown Flood swept me away Thus far he has impressed and entertained, so much so that by the end of 1776 I was yearning for 1777


  5. Nate Cooley Nate Cooley says:

    David McCullough has again exceeded all expectations in his latest book, 1776 Like most historical narratives, the reader often knows the ending well in advance In 1776 , every reader had to have expected that McCullough would close his book describing Washington s daring yet gallant crossing of the Delaware and the Continental Army s subsequent triumph at Trenton Nevertheless, as I approached the end of the book I found myself anxiously awaiting that moment I literally read on with ba David McCullough has again exceeded all expectations in his latest book, 1776 Like most historical narratives, the reader often knows the ending well in advance In 1776 , every reader had to have expected that McCullough would close his book describing Washington s daring yet gallant crossing of the Delaware and the Continental Army s subsequent triumph at Trenton Nevertheless, as I approached the end of the book I found myself anxiously awaiting that moment I literally read on with bated breath David McCullough does a masterful job of describing with ease the events as they unfolded chronologically Though as he does so, heimportantly provides acute analysis into the psyches of the main players As much as this book was a narrative about the Continental Army from Bunker Hill, to Dorchester Heights, to Long Island and the Battle of Brooklyn, down through New Jersey and ulitmately victory at Trenton, the book could have as easily been a biography of sorts about His Excellency, George Washington McCullough s portrait of Washington is not unlike others that have been popularly written Expectedly, the book portrays our first president as a man of faith and stellar, quasi consecrated leadership At the same time though, McCullough is careful not to deify the General and provides keen insights into Washington s probable feelings of self doubt and diffidence, especially after the nearly catastrophic and ego piercing defeats at Brooklyn and Fort Washington Further, McCullough exposes the fact that those close to Washington, General Charles Lee and Joseph Reed, lost much confidence in the General after the Continental Army s retreat across the Hudson and down through New Jersey With all of this provided as a backdrop though, a true picture of George Washington his character, his dominion, his authority is brought into sharp focus through McCullough s description of the Army s treacherous but euphoric victory over the Hessians at Trenton I could literally picture Washington s animation and feel his exuberance when in the face of a potential call to retreat, he exclaimed to those under his command, It s a fine fox chase, my boys One can only imagine the scene of chaos that filled the streets on that early winter morning yet it is easy to picture General Washington sitting atop his horse, jubilantly inciting his troops to action At the same time, because of McCullough s adroit description of the sometimes lackadaisical and even distracted British Commander, William Howe, one can only imagine Howe s consternation when learning of the defeat of the hired Hessian helpers Having mentioned Commander Howe, I also appreciated McCullough s determination in devoting a large portion of the book to characterizing British personalities and actions Too few authors of the Revolutionary Period spend enough time measuring what was going through the minds of the British, the enemy at the time Considering the fact that many living in the colonies during this period considered themselves loyal subjects of the King, it seems logical that a book describing the events of 1776 would adequately delve into British sentiment regarding the rebels declaration of independence and the skirmishes and all out war that followed After all, the foot soldiers in the Continental Army were closely related, literally, to loyalists throughout the colonies In illustrating the overall British ethos, especially that of the King s Army, McCullough repeatedly denotes periods during the war where the Continental Army was and should have been on the cusp of ruin but for the seemingly high minded haughtiness of the British leaders most notably the aforementioned Commander Howe Howe is painted as a somewhat apathetic and listless commander, severely lacking the killer instinct possessed by so many other leaders of the time on both sides McCullough interestingly notes the stark difference between Commander William Howe and both his brother, Admiral Lord Richard Howe, and General Henry Clinton Had General Clinton s thinking been adopted, the Continental Army probably never would have reached Dorchester Heights in the dead of night and thus would probably never have made it out of Boston In 1776 , David McCullough has closely matched the superiority John Adams and his numerous other historical works David McCullough truly is a master of the art of narrative history Like both of the late Stephen Ambrose and the late David Halberstam, David McCullough has become, in my mind, a national treasure


  6. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    McCullough s celebrated 1776 covers a crucial turning point in the American war of independence from the British empire However, I felt that this book was not as fascinating as Washington s Crossing by Fischer In Fischer s book, we get a muchdetailed account of the defeat in New York, the retreat across New Jersey and the crossing and re crossing of the Delaware which I foundgripping than thesuperficial coverage by McCullough I guess the positive point of McCullough is the b McCullough s celebrated 1776 covers a crucial turning point in the American war of independence from the British empire However, I felt that this book was not as fascinating as Washington s Crossing by Fischer In Fischer s book, we get a muchdetailed account of the defeat in New York, the retreat across New Jersey and the crossing and re crossing of the Delaware which I foundgripping than thesuperficial coverage by McCullough I guess the positive point of McCullough is the broader historical perspective starting in the loss of Boston and giving a brief panorama to the end of the war just at the end His focus is clearly on Washington and his evolution as a leader from a hesitant commander making mistakes in New York to hisdetermined aggressive move towards Newark However, if this topic truly interests you, I would recommend Fischer over this one.I think that I will return to this period in a few months, probably with Ron Chernow s Washington A Life, but it might be a while


  7. Debra Debra says:

    How did a group of farmers beat the English Empire Through blood, sweat and tears Noted American Historian, David McCullough, beautifully tells the story of the birth of the United States of America He takes just one year in the American Revolution to tell how both sides of the war felt and thought He shows how King George III thought of the Colonists as petulant children who did not have any legitimate complaints He showed how George Washington was worried about the chance of Victory for t How did a group of farmers beat the English Empire Through blood, sweat and tears Noted American Historian, David McCullough, beautifully tells the story of the birth of the United States of America He takes just one year in the American Revolution to tell how both sides of the war felt and thought He shows how King George III thought of the Colonists as petulant children who did not have any legitimate complaints He showed how George Washington was worried about the chance of Victory for the Colonists despite how optimistic he appeared in public Both larger than live leaders, on either sides of the Atlantic, are shown as human One thought he would easily win King George III and one had doubts George Washington as he held the fate of the Colonies in his hands There is a lot of historical information given as one would expect from such a book Battles I had never heard of were discussed in detail McCullough excels in doing his research and writing about history in such a riveting manner The harsh elements, spread of disease, the battles, lack of supplies, and the horrors of battle are vivid and powerful David McCullough is a gifted writer who does not disappoint Highly recommend Seeof my reviews at www.openbookpost.com


  8. Connie G Connie G says:

    1776 is an interesting narrative covering the Revolutionary War from the Siege of Boston in late 1775, through the British victories in New York, to the successful American battles in windy, snowy weather in New Jersey The war did not end until 1783, so this book only covers the historic year when the Declaration of Independence was signed.It s a joy to read David McCullough s writing because he makes the historical figures seem so real with their strengths and flaws The book is well researc 1776 is an interesting narrative covering the Revolutionary War from the Siege of Boston in late 1775, through the British victories in New York, to the successful American battles in windy, snowy weather in New Jersey The war did not end until 1783, so this book only covers the historic year when the Declaration of Independence was signed.It s a joy to read David McCullough s writing because he makes the historical figures seem so real with their strengths and flaws The book is well researched with many quotations from primary sources 1776 concentrates on the military situation since McCullough wroteabout the politics of the time in another book.The American army looked like a ragtag group of volunteers who had insufficient training, clothing, food, and weapons, but possessed ingenuity and spirit The professional British troops with the paid Hessians had better training, good uniforms, andweapons The British also had the finest navy in the world which was especially advantageous in New York City which is surrounded on three sides by water.The book included many illustrations of the main players of 1776, both American and British Three period maps were also included, but some of the small print was difficult to read Since I m from the northeast, I was familiar with Boston, New York, and New Jersey A reader from another country might want to find maps online to use with McCullough s excellent military descriptions Overall, this was an engaging, well written book


  9. Ashley Ashley says:

    This isn t the book I wanted to read, or was expecting to read, but it was good nonetheless.What I was expecting 1 A book about the first full year of the American Revolution this part was accurate.2 Insight into the causes of the Revolution absent almost completely.3 Portrayals of the way the two sides saw each other, and why somewhat present.4 Stuff about George Washington and the other founding fathers there was some stuff on George Washington, mostly in his role as commander in ch This isn t the book I wanted to read, or was expecting to read, but it was good nonetheless.What I was expecting 1 A book about the first full year of the American Revolution this part was accurate.2 Insight into the causes of the Revolution absent almost completely.3 Portrayals of the way the two sides saw each other, and why somewhat present.4 Stuff about George Washington and the other founding fathers there was some stuff on George Washington, mostly in his role as commander in chief of the first continental army, but there was almost nothing on his personal life or anything outside his new role.5 Explanations of battles this is basically all the book consisted of.6 Lots about the writing of the Declaration of Independence there was NONE OF THIS.So you can see I was probably setting myself up for failure, but luckily halfway through I forced myself to adjust my expectations and get over it I ended up enjoying the book for what it was, and not what I wanted it to be What this book actually was 1 A book about the full first year of the Revolution, during which time the US army almost lost the war, but managed through perseverance and some luck to turn things around.2 Insight into each individual battle of the war during the period of January 1776 January 1777 and how each one set the tone for the war to come.3 Portrayals of the strategies employed by both sides, and reasonably conclusions for why the did so.4 A focus on George Washington and his main generals in the war, including Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox, as well as soldiers int he war and other people who McCullough was able to track down primary sources for The book is told almost exclusively through finding and piecing together different primary sources from the day letters, journals, proclamations, articles, essays, etc It is very much in their own words and there is very little outside analysis on McCullough s part, aside from the decisions he made in putting the whole thing together.5 Lots and lots of battles, including detailed descriptions of the living conditions of both sides of soldiers, including the pros and cons of the British being so regulated and traditional, and the Americans being so disorganized, inexperienced, but enthusiastic 6 In large part, this book actually works to de mythologize and unromanticize everything you learned in elementary school about the Revolution, and focuses on how the first year of the war influenced the rest of it.I would definitely be interested in readingbooks by this author, especially his one on John Adams, which I have a feeling is the one I should have been reading in the first place, given what I wanted from this one Mostly, though, it just made me want to readbooks about this time in history, because it made me realize that aside from those common romanticizations most Americans hold about the Revolutionary war, I know almost nothing concrete about it, a situation I really need to rectify as soon as possible


  10. Josh Josh says:

    McCullough s 1776 is a book about discovery the force within oneself, one body of people, to be free without the anxiety of what it means to govern themselves independently Democracy was what they yearned for The majority of the American people wanted to unite and unite they did McCullough discusses the trials and tribulations of the first full year of the American Revolutionary War in the north to northeastern part of the colonies with clear and concise language He uses many quotes and p McCullough s 1776 is a book about discovery the force within oneself, one body of people, to be free without the anxiety of what it means to govern themselves independently Democracy was what they yearned for The majority of the American people wanted to unite and unite they did McCullough discusses the trials and tribulations of the first full year of the American Revolutionary War in the north to northeastern part of the colonies with clear and concise language He uses many quotes and phrases from a myriad of source material and in a way that puts the reader in the streets of Boston, on the battlefields of Trenton and Princeton and in the heart of the early Patriot that rag tag farmer, blacksmith, carpenter and other highly inexperienced soldiers that fought and died for the Glorious Cause As this book speaks about 1776 in general, it also discusses George Washington, the General of the Continental Army the name of the American army and later, founding father and first President of the United States McCullough isn t biased, by any means He shows Washington s ability to lead an army with his optimism towards the campaign and his uplifting oratory on topics of freedom, but also shows him to be indecisive in matters as with giving up Fort Washington and Fort Lee, along with not covering the Jamaica Pass in the Battle of Long Island which was a decisive victory for the British due to his inexperience at leading any army, much less a battalion At times, it feels like a biography of Washington and that year of his life rather than about the battles and the importance of what they signified, but it was still an interesting and engaging read I personally hadn t read up on the Revolution since my early years in school and it was nice to revisit things that I had forgotten and learned a few things as well