The American Enterprise

America's first war of wills.(1776)(Book Review)

1776 By David McCullough Simon & Schuster, 400 pages, $32

In 1776, David McCullough tells the story of the first year of the Continental Army and shows that George Washington's victory over the British was far from foreordained. Rather, as McCullough demonstrates, it was the result of America's first long, hard slog.

1776 is not intended as a study of Washington's generalship, though it is his successes and failures that drive the narrative. McCullough follows the Continental Army, from Washington's assumption of command during the siege of the British at Boston, through Washington's defeat in the Battle for New York, and concludes with his legendary victories at Trenton and Princeton.

The siege of Boston has been neglected by historians despite the fact that it was Washington's first test as Commander in Chief. McCullough's account of the siege reveals that Washington was far from a brilliant general. …

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