Have you read: Historical novel is riveting | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Have you read: Historical novel is riveting

Jerome Evans

“1776” by David McCullough

Here is a true survival story you will find far more fascinating and well-told than anything you are likely to encounter on television. The tale involves a disparate group of colonists who find themselves in a struggle for independence from a contemptuous mother country determined to crush them without mercy. The cast of characters includes the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and Franklin on one side, and King George III, Germain, Howe, and Cornwallis on the other.

And the outcome, you will feel as you read, is always in doubt.

Pulitzer prize-winning historian David McCullough (author of “John Adams,” “Truman” and “The Johnstown Flood” among others) begins his tale in October 1775, when King George III notified Parliament that the American colonies are in rebellion and of his intention to crush it at once. He then takes us to Philadelphia, where the young George Washington is named commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, although he had never before led an army in battle. And, as McCullough reminds us, “this was an army where nearly everyone was new to the tasks of soldiering and fighting a war.”

Washington and his ill-equipped and poorly trained troops barely hold off British forces besieging Boston and are subsequently overwhelmed at New York, where their escape across the East River is described in a manner you will not forget. As likely to fall to the redcoats and their Hessian mercenaries, you may find yourself more than a little glad that you know the eventual outcome.

When things were at their worst, McCullough says, “Washington was no less a commanding presence that ever, and … he seemed imperturbable, entirely in control. In truth, he was as discouraged as he had ever been in his life, and miserably unhappy.” Yet, Washington and his by-now battle-tested commanders would somehow, in late December of that fateful year, summon the will to launch a surprise attack against the Hessian troops at Trenton and then the British at Princeton.

This is the climax of McCullough’s story, just as it was the turning point in our war for independence, and, I promise you, it is a story that will renew your pride in being an American. In short, a grand tale wonderfully told.

– Jerome Evans is an art dealer, freelance writer, recreation advocate and avid reader.

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