This book failed me. I was inspired to read it because a) McCullough has won two Pulitzers; b) it’s a best-seller and thus presumably written in a populist manner; and c) my American history situation is abominable. But I realized something hard and fast while reading it–I hate reading military and war history, details of maneuvers and their execution, stories of outflanking and the ranks of generals.
Things I Liked About 1776
- Biographical backgrounds of central figures (Gens. George Washingto and Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, etc.)
- Cutural notes about the life of New Englanders at the time
- An understanding of the rather pitiable underdog Continental Army and its daily travails
- Character development of the leading persons
Things I Didn’t Like About 1776
- Long excerpts from primary sources
- Exhaustive descriptions of battles and skirmishes
- Forced, if not arbitrary, shoehorning of all content into the framework of the calendar year of 1776 (I left without a full picture of the whole war)
- Disjointed and dull first chapter about King George III and arguments in English Parliament for and against the war
- The story only followed Washington’s men, not the campaigns in the south (e.g. Charleston) or in Canada. Again, I feel I missed out on a more general survey, which I assumed this kind of would be. My mistake.
For me, myself, my opinion, I’m giving it ** (of *****).
For those who really like the military and Revolutionary War battle story, I’d give it ***.