American Revolution Bookstore
of the American Revolution ****1/2 Mark M. Boatner
covers just about everything. Although the book is in encyclopedia
format, I have read this book for hours on end. In addition to campaigns
and battles, the author covers military commanders and political figures.
Boatner evaluates commanders and compares sources to give as accurate
of a picture as possible. This book is indispensable for the Revolutionary
War student or buff.
Washington's Generals and Opponents
***** George Billias edits this survey of the
important commanders of the Continental and British Armies. The strengths,
weaknesses, and personalities of each general are well covered. The
importance of character flaws of the British generals are covered from Howe
and Clinton having mistresses to Cornwallis' over-aggressiveness stemming
from the death of his wife. The enigmatic Continental general Charles
Lee and the romanticist Anthony Wayne are especially interesting.
Traitors and Heroes ***** John Bakeless
masterfully wrote this book which deals with the vital contributions of
Washington's intelligence service. Included are Washington masking
the weakness of his army at Morristown and his plots to assassinate the traitor
Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution ****
In this concise work, Craig Symonds shows the course of the war in maps.
are easily compared with uniform symbols which show approximately equal numbers
Battle of Brooklyn 1776
****1/2 by John J. Gallagher. With excellent local knowledge and good
insight on the battle, John Gallagher tells us not just what happened where,
but why. His occasional error of fact and his concept of "democratic
warfare" detracts little from this very good, concise, and well written
book. Tourists will find the details on locations very useful.
Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) ***** by
David Hackett Fischer. This is a rare book indeed. It gives a
detailed myth-busting account of the decisive battles of Trenton and
Princeton along with excellent analysis of the events. Ignored in
other accounts, Fischer shows the importance of patriot risings in New
Jersey which were caused by the harsh actions of some British and German
troops. The resulting British lack of control of the state greatly
aided Washington's efforts. The failure of other American troops to
cross the Delaware is explained when the author details the unique ice
conditions below the fall line at Trenton. Although he doesn't deny
the importance of great men and their decisions, Fischer shows that
Washington had really no choice but to attack. Further, he shows how
Washington's handling of councils of war made for a command arrangement
superior to aristocratic British methods. More than previous
authors, Fischer shows the hardships of the march on Trenton, the
importance of the artillery, and vital but generally overlooked second
battle of Trenton. The British panic after Princeton and the forage
war which followed is shown to have been vitally important in keeping the
British under-supplied and largely immobile. Finally, Fischer shows
how succeeding generations have interpreted and celebrated Washington's
crossing, in art and prose.
Brandywine Battlefield Park: Pennsylvania Trail of History
Guide ****1/2 by Thomas McGuire. This small book is an
excellent explanation of the battle, and provides good insight - from the
commanders' decisions to the actual combat. Interestingly, he states that the
British flanking column advanced in regimental columns then deployed into an
open order for the attack. I would have liked to have seen more detail, a tour
guide, and photos of the site, so I hesitate to give it 5 stars. I hope this
book will become the basis for a more in depth treatment.
The Philadelphia Campaign:Volume 1 Brandywine and the
Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J McGuire. I haven't
read it yet, but if his previous books are any indication, it should be
Battle of Paoli ***** by Thomas McGuire.
Accounts of the battle, or "massacre" have been mostly myth created
by wartime propaganda and nineteenth century embellishment. Thomas
McGuire has used pension applications, recently found court martial documents,
and invaluable local knowledge to create an accurate and interesting account
of the battle. The book has excellent maps for the campaign and battle.
I hope McGuire is hard at work writing
more such books.
The Surprise of Germantown: Or, the Battle of Cliveden, October 4th, 1777
**** by Thomas J. McGuire. This short book gives a very good
account of the action around the stone house Cliveden during the battle of
Germantown. Visitors to the site would find the detailed descriptions
very useful. The description is lively and the maps useful. The
book deserves four stars instead of five only because other parts of the
battle aren't covered in any significant depth.
Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge *****
by Thomas Fleming. Although not based on original research by the
author, much of the content in this popular history is not well
known to the general public, and a wide variety of readers should find it
to be an entertaining and fresh telling of the Valley Forge story.
The weather was not as bad as it is often portrayed, and the troops did
not suffer as badly as is sometimes made out. As a result, much of
Fleming's book is not so much about Valley Forge but about
Washington's political travails and development, specifically his defeat
of the misnamed "Conway
Adams, other members of the Continental Congress, and self-serving
military commanders are rightly made to look very bad, with ambition and radical ideology
interfering with reasonable efforts to correct the army's problems.
Pennsylvania radicals, for instance, believed that masses of state militia
alone could overwhelm the Brits in Philadelphia. Washington began to
turn the situation around, however, and his lengthy 28 page report
convinced many in Congress that he was not to blame for the army's
problems. Fleming is a great writer, and his small subchapters make
the book easy to read. The characters are not merely names, but come
alive as real people, with Fleming treating us to great tidbits like
Horatio Gates bragging that his son had contracted a venereal
disease as well as Mrs. Loring's low-cut dresses and her later religious
conversion and denial of immoral behavior.
A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780
****1/2 by Carl Borick. With only rare exceptions like Pearl
Harbor, American military disasters are generally ignored - not
commemorated and not studied. Before reading this book, I didn't know how little
that I knew about this campaign. After a
short re-cap of the war, the author briefly discusses a previous advance
on Charleston from Georgia, which had been bluffed into retreat by an advance on
the British rear. With hopes of loyalist support in the South, for 1780 Sir Henry Clinton mounted a major
amphibious expedition from New York to the fourth largest city in the colonies,
Charleston. The British landed in an unexpected area south of the city, in difficult
terrain, but their advance was not contested. The naval aspect
of the campaign was new to me, but vitally important. A substantial portion of the
Continental Navy under Commodore Whipple was sent to defend Charleston,
Whipple failed to defend the bar at the harbor entrance, and unlike in
1776, the British then safely passed Ft Moultrie as they did not stop to
engage the fort. With naval access to the harbor, the British could
continue the land advance, despite the handicap of having almost no
cavalry. After crossing the Ashley River, Clinton opened up siege
lines opposite a formidable American line. Even then, additional
American troops arrived by crossing the Cooper River. Although the
Royal Navy never closed off the American retreat across the Cooper River,
Clinton sent a detachment across which eventually captured the area north
of the harbor, sealing the fate of the American garrison. Because of
civilian influence, Benjamin Lincoln, the American commander had remained
in the city until it was too late. The surrender was the greatest
American disaster of the war and could easily have lost them the South.
But British treatment of civilians, combined with a rumored smallpox
epidemic which had kept militia out of Charleston, kept American
Battle of Pensacola * by N. Orwin Rush. Few
people know of, or care about, the Battle of Pensacola, so finding a book
about the siege is a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, this book very
much has an unfinished feel. Instead of integrating the stories of
the participants, long passages are used. The story does not flow well
at all, and the numerous maps are nearly useless as they are too small to
Cowpens Battlefield: A Walking Guide *** by Lawrence Babits.
An earlier version of Babits' research, this guide is not as thorough
and therefore not as convincing as his later book. It is best used
with his follow-on book.
Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens
***** Lawrence Babits has used the most recent
research on Cowpens, including pension applications, and he has come up with
some remarkable and convincing revisions. He believes Morgan had 2,000
men at his disposal, that his flanks were not in the air, and that both the
American positions and the course of the battle were different from
the traditional accounts. This thoroughly researched, well written
book gives revisionism a good name. We can only hope he will give the
same treatment to other Southern battles.
The Battle of New Garden **** For sale at Tannenbaum
Park near Guilford CH, this small book by Algie Newlin gives a good account
of the skirmishes on the morning of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.
Myths of the location of the battle are dispelled, and local history
and legend give insight unavailable elsewhere. Newlin argues that the
skirmishes were more important than have been recognized.
The Guns of Independence ****1/2
by Jerome A. Greene. Based on a bicentennial era Park Service
publication intended for park employees, this updated version gives us the
most complete account yet of the decisive siege. In the first
scholarly treatment of the siege in decades, the author uses numerous
sources neglected in other studies, including archeological studies from
the 1930s and 40s, and accounts by participants, foreign and domestic.
Unmatched in detail and scholarship, and chocked full of insight and
information not found anywhere else, this book is a valuable addition to
any Revolutionary War enthusiast's library. After a brief overview
of the events leading up to the campaign, Greene gives a detailed view of
the thinking of the commanders and the decisions they faced, the methods
of 18th century siegecraft, the progress of the siege,
and little known events that had an important impact. The reader
will see the campaign in a whole new light, and understand it like never before. Indeed, you cannot fully understand Yorktown until reading this
book. The book's excellent maps and battlefields photos not only help explain
the siege, they beg the reader to pack his bags and go for a visit. Only
some minor flaws and lack
of a map of the initial Allied approach keep the
book from a five star rating. Please see an excerpt from the book
Abercrombie's Sortie as an example of the
scholarship and detail.
The Guns of
Independence: The Siege of Yorktown, 1781, signed by
the author. When ordering your signed copy
direct from the publisher, please use the coupon code "John020530S"
so that this website will receive a portion of the proceeds, helping defray
expenses. Thank you!
Gibraltar 1779-1783 *** by Rene Chartrand.
The author begins with the early history of Gibraltar and its capture in
1704, which is interesting enough, but we must wait until page 18 of a 95
page book to get to the 1779-83 siege. Description of British
fortifications is sparse, possibly so we'll buy the specialized book on
Gibraltar in the Osprey fortress series. Unfortunately, there are few maps,
and the art is not as
good as that in many other books in the campaign series. The land
approach was narrow, and the Spanish, and later the French, could not gain
superiority over the British guns, although the reasons for this are not
made entirely clear. Much of the attention given to the landward
side of the siege is directed toward the famed British sortie in November
1781. The Spanish navy, with a convenient base at Cadiz, was key to
the allied effort, but it failed to consistently block shipments of food
and ammunition to the British garrison, which arrived in either
individual ships or in massive relief fleets. This re-supply effort
virtually guaranteed British success. Chartrand gives the most
attention to the attack of the French floating batteries, the most
dramatic event of the siege. Reinforced with additional wooden
planking on one side, and protected with armored roofs, the floating
batteries seemingly had a chance to gain superiority over the British
guns, which would have allowed the allied army to assault the British lines.
Hot shot, however, eventually destroyed the ships, which had been
committed to battle before they were ready, dooming the allied siege.
This book, although flawed in some ways, is a decent introduction to the
Revolution ***** by Bruce Bliven. I bought
this book at a fifth grade book fair years ago. The artwork on the
cover caught my eye - a gruff looking guy in an odd looking blue coat and tricorne
hat. I couldn't resist and eagerly read the book in my spare time,
including during the long bus trips to and from school. Twenty
years later, I still love the American Revolution and world history, largely
because of this book.
American Revolution for Kids ***** by Janis
Herbert. This book is an excellent introduction to the American Revolution.
Children will undoubtedly find it entertaining and activities like making
a tricorne hat or hunting shirt enjoyable. The American Revolution
was one of the most important times in world history. Readers will
clearly grasp this, and along the way, they will be treated to amusing incidents
or myths like Israel Putnam's powderkeg duel. Although there are minor errors
concerning the military aspects, they do not detract from the narrative.
The book's greatest strength is in dealing with the political aspect
of the war, showing the origins of English liberty at the beginning of the
book - and the framing of the Constitution at the end.
To Military History
Covering Numerous Other Topics