Books: 1776 by David McCullough

November 26, 2006

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 ***.

One Comment

  1. El Gray says:

    Hmm. I might enjoy this.

Wonderful games with Caslon