Wednesday, October 11, 2006

1776

1776 by David McCullough Books on history can often be a hard sell to both publishers and readers. The rehashing of old material gets, well, old. You either have to come up with an obscure piece of history that few know about but is engaging, or you have to recreate a larger section that is known by many and give some new tidbits. David McCullough does the latter in his excellent new book 1776.

All Americans know that this was the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. We all know what a tough decision it was for those who chose to place their names on this document, thus committing treason to the British Crown. And Mr. McCullough doesn't dwell on this aspect in 1776, but instead decides to show how perilously close the United States came to never being an independent nation.

For instance, did you know how few soldiers George Washington had under his command during this year? The British outnumbered him nearly three to one. Did you know how many times Washington and his troops abandoned cities and fled? Nearly too many to note. Did you know how indecisive Washington was as a General? He could hardly make decent decisions, let alone singular one's without the input of Congress or an aide. Did you know how many signers of the Declaration of Independence defected to the British side? Whoa.

The book comes complete with fine portraits of famous leaders, too, from King George III to George Washington.

Author McCullough's tight writing style and new insights make this an excellent read. Most will be able to finish the book in two to three days ...easily!

The great thing, too, is that you'll never have to wonder "how it all turns out." :)

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