The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, January 3, 2014

REVOLUTIONARY SUMMER: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J Ellis

Reviewed By WC
Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis

Publisher:  Knopf
Release Date:  June 4, 2013
Pages:  240

About the Book:  From the award-winning, preeminent American historian: a revelatory portrait of a crescendo moment in American history.

Joseph J. Ellis' focus: the summer of 1776, the most dramatic few months in the story of our country's founding. The thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire. At the same time, the British dispatched the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic; it cruised off the coast of Staten Island in early July. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis weaves the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other. Revolutionary Summer enlivens familiar historical events with a freshness at once revelatory and compelling.

WC's Review:  Author Joseph J Ellis tells us some things about the year 1776 an infrequent reader of American history probably does not know.

The most glaring revelation is that George Washington, stalwart that he was, was probably not the great military leader some histories afford. He most certainly was not a Robert E Lee, who himself was not infallible, but he did possess the resolution and perseverance that Lee displayed during the South's war for independence. Good thing, for the American ragtags would have suffered annihilation early on, on Long Island and Manhattan.

The British brothers Richard and William Howe of the world's best navy proved less than aggressive when they had the Colonial army trapped. They dallied when the Americans were most vulnerable, especially when Washington and his general Nathanael Greene realized that the island of Manhattan was not defensible.

But most troublesome, the individual colonies wavered when Washington needed more manpower. Along with the Continental Congress who often failed to adequately provide financial and military supply, individual landowners remained confident that independence was a certainty even while they maintained a smidgen of British sympathy. As today, Washington became frustrated with half-hearted efforts of many low informed Americans.

1776 was a trying year. Washington knew, as did John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and lesser known John Dickinson, that failure to gain independence was not an option. Would that gentlemen with like tenacity lived today.
About the Author:  
Joseph J. Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College, is a nationally recognized scholar of American history from colonial times through the early decades of the Republic. The author of seven books, he is recipient of the National Book Award in Nonfiction for American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson and the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers. He lives in Massachusetts.