Paperback ´ Washington's Crossing MOBI Ú

Paperback ´ Washington's Crossing MOBI Ú


Washington's Crossing [PDF / Epub] ✩ Washington's Crossing ☉ David Hackett Fischer – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within s Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of PhiladelphiaYet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, George Washington and many other Americans refused to let the Revolution die On Christmas night, as a howling nor easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men A second battle of Trenton followed within days The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis s best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force Under cover of night, Washington s men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton The British were badly shaken In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruinedFischer s richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.


10 thoughts on “Washington's Crossing

  1. Matt Matt says:

    Despite a great love of history, I ve never been able to really connect to the American Revolution as a historical event The reason, I think, is that the Revolutionary War is our creation myth Like other creation myths, such as the Christmas Story the one with Jesus, not the BB gun , historical veracity and the exact sequence of events is not as important as the fact that event happened at all Rigorous analysis takes a backseat to emotional considerations Objectivity is shrouded in the mist Despite a great love of history, I ve never been able to really connect to the American Revolution as a historical event The reason, I think, is that the Revolutionary War is our creation myth Like other creation myths, such as the Christmas Story the one with Jesus, not the BB gun , historical veracity and the exact sequence of events is not as important as the fact that event happened at all Rigorous analysis takes a backseat to emotional considerations Objectivity is shrouded in the mists of symbolism In the end, the American Revolution becomes an article of faith As with any faith, there are icons, and the iconography of the American Revolution is as visible today as it was in the late 18th century Walk into an elementary school classroom and you will likely see a copy of Charles Peale s portrait of George Washington Walk into a courthouse and you will likely see Archibald MacNeal Willard s The Spirit of 76 Walk into my closet and you will see a print of John Trumbull s Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown that my wife will not let me hang on the wall This has led to several arguments in which she claims that marriage constitutes an implied contract not to display any Revolutionary iconography, and in which I call her a damned Tory.Of course, the most famous icon of the Revolution, and indeed, one of the most famous images in American history up there with Joe Rosenthal s picture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima , is Emanuel Leutze s painting Washington Crossing the Delaware I have no hesitation in saying that you have seen this painting Everyone has Heck, if you were anything like me as a child, you probably, at one point or another, found a tricorn hat, put on a bathrobe, made a boat out of chairs and blankets, and attempted to replicate this scene Fittingly, David Hackett Fischer s Washington s Crossing, begins with a description of Leutze s work its creation, composition, symbolism and preservation You also learn that contrary to the contrarians, Washington probably did stand up in the boat, since the bottom of the boats were full of icy water But Fischer s book is about so muchthan the crossing of the Delaware River and Washington s subsequent victory over the Hessians at Trenton It is, actually, the best book I ve read on the Revolutionary War The first few chapters of Washington s Crossing carefully set the stage for what is to follow, by describing and comparing the three different armies at the heart of this story the British, the Americans, and the Hessians Fischer makes a distinction between the armies of liberty the Americans and the armies of order the British and the Germans however, he doesn t come to the facile conclusion that one would expect liberty yay order boo Instead, with restraint and judgment, he shows the relative strengths and weaknesses of both I was especially engaged by Fischer s chapter on the Hessians, and his ability to humanize them While some were conscripts, Fischer shows how many of these troops were proud of their service, and were rewarded relatively generously As an aside, is there anything quite as terrifying as a German They are cold, disciplined, tireless and efficient when they turn those traits towards warfare, watch out And I say this as a person who had a great German friend in college I loved him as a boy might love a robot Once Fischer has created this context, we begin the journey towards December 25, 1776 This road starts in New York, with the invasion of that city by Lord William Howe of whom Fischer has many laudatory things to say and his brother Admiral Richard Howe a third Howe brother, George, was killed during the French and Indian War American colonists commissioned a statue in his honor, which is still located at Westminster Abbey Lord Howe s army crushes George Washington s poorly arrayed troops at the Battle of Long Island, forcing Washington to save his army by retreating to Brooklyn Heights and ferrying his army across the East River while the Delaware crossing on Christmas night is Washington s most famous amphibious operation, he replicated the act on several occasions, to great effect.The Battle of Long Island heralded the dark season of the American Revolution New York City fell to the British, as did Fort Washington Washington kept retreating and the British, under Cornwallis, kept pursuing The British launched an invasion of New Jersey by scaling the Palisades and crossed the entire State, nipping at Washington s heels With winter coming on, the British and Hessians halted at Trenton At the moment of the Revolution s nadir, Washington conceived a brilliant and risky plan to capture the Hessian garrison under Colonel Rall at Trenton On Christmas night, with the help of John Glover s Marblehead men, Washington s troops crossed the Delaware River The crossing, ironically, was the easy part and in the book is covered in a couple pages The troops then had to make a forced march through a raging storm to reach Trenton before the garrison was alerted The Continentals, helped immensely by the skill of Henry Knox and his artillery, soundly whipped the Germans Fischer s writing is a seamless integration of narrative and analysis His style is as open and engaging as the best popular historians, such as David McCullough however, unlike some popular historians, his scholarship and judgments are impeccable This is the rare kind of book that is not only a pleasure to read, but is also written with an analytical eye The drama of the story never overtakes Fischer s reasoned judgment, and vice versa Fischer never fails to remember that history is a story about people their decisions, their actions, their triumphs and their mistakes In brief sketches, he manages to humanize the leading personalities He tells us how the humane Lord Howe wanted to avoid war with the Colonists how the fatherless Washington treated his aides as sons and how Cornwallis, known to Americans as the loser at Yorktown, bucked the conventions of his class to marry for love This is not history written as a chronology this is history forged moment by moment by fallible, recognizable humans Fischer does what he can to conjure the reality the sights and sounds of a long ago battle The American infantry were aiming at the Hessian officers and brought down four Lossberger captains Colonel Rall was in the thick of it As another junior officer went down, Rall turned to console him Then the colonel himself was hit and reeled in the saddle, shot twice in the side both wounds were mortal The dying German commander was helped off his horse, carried into the church, and laid upon a bench In the center of Trenton, the battle became a bedlam of sound The streets echoed with the thunder of artillery, the crash of iron on brick and stone, the noise of splinter wood and shattering glass, shouts and curses, and the cries of wounded men On the vast scale of human slaughter this eighteenth century battle was nothing to compare with other wars, but its very close combat of cold steel, massed musketry, and cannon at point blank range created a scene of horror beyond imagining I did not come into this book completely ignorant of the Battle of Trenton, but I still learned a lot For instance, until now, I did not know about the high number of rapes committed by British soldiers Further, I learned that the Americans actually had a really good supply of artillery, weapons, and ammunition, though they were endemically short of food and blankets There is also the popular conception of the Germanys partying hard on Christmas, and thereby suffering from a massive hangover during the battle In fact, the Hessians were quite sober The reason they were tired, and caught unprepared, was that Colonel Rall had had them up on alert the preceding nights, due to raids by New Jersey militia operating independent of the Continental Army, to unplanned effects On the day of battle, Washington was greatly abetted by a winter storm, which lulled the exhausted Germans into a false sense of security I probably should ve have known that the Germans, with their rigid sense of duty, wouldn t have been drunk Now, if they had been Irish troops Fischer s text is greatly enhanced by 19 detailed maps This is a big deal in a book like this, at least to me My spatial imagination is horrible, and if I don t have a good map for reference, all subsequent descriptions of troop movements is a waste of ink In other words, I have the geographical sense of Christopher Columbus The maps in Fischer s books, created by Jeffery Ward, are wonderful They show roads, landmarks, and troop positions, while also including a modern day overlay, so you know exactly where events are taking place Despite all this information, the maps are easy to follow I also appreciated the fact that this book s illustrations are interspersed throughout the text, rather than clumsily bunched into a center section, like a publisher s afterthought Illustrations should serve a purpose In Washington s Crossing, when Fischer introduces a character, there will be a portrait of that character on the page It s such a simple thing, yet so few history books do it Washington s Crossing does not end with the Battle of Trenton It goes on to discuss, at length, the little known Second Battle of Trenton, the Battle of Princeton, and the so called Forage Wars, where small bands of Continentals, aided by New Jersey militia, annoyed and harassed the British army It s a testament to Fischer s abilities as an author that this material, which might seem anticlimactic, is possiblythrilling than the Battle of Trenton I was especially pleased with Fischer s treatment of the Battle of Princeton, which I would venture to guess most Americans have not heard of and which I have seen some historians qualify as a draw Militarily speaking, George Washington usually garners the most credit simply for keeping his army together He saw the Revolution as a war of posts, and at Long Island, he nearly met with catastrophe trying to lure the British into another Bunker Hill At Princeton, though, you see boldness, panache and brilliance Faced off with Cornwallis, Washington managed to disengage from the enemy, steal a march, and strike unexpectedly at the British base.Fischer ends his book with a concluding chapter Here, he helpfully reminds you of everything you were supposed to learn This is a bit pedagogic, but never condescending Fischer also includes a number of fascinating appendices that hold forth on various topics including the British, Hessian, and American order of battle a weather almanac a note on the ice floes in the Delaware casualty lists for each army in each battle a time and distance analysis on the American march to Trenton a discussion about dubious historical documents and a section entitled Historiography, where Fischer describes how the Battle of Trenton has been written and interpreted from 1776 to the present day All in all, it is trove of facts, figures, and erudite analysis.Today, the American Revolution exists in a haze of jingoism, self congratulations, and firework smoke There isn t a lot of time spent parsing its meanings and complexities I mean, if you take a second to dig a little deeper, beyond catchphrases and loaded words, things get a bit uncomfortable For instance, those taxes levied without representation were meant to pay for Britain s defense of the Colonies during the French and Indian War Without British help, we might all be speaking French right now Mon Dieu The Revolutionary Era s prominence in our modern age is as a cudgel used to beat political opponents and score cheap political points Indeed, there is a burgeoning party the Tea Party named after a famous protest that occurred in Boston Harbor One of the Tea Party s stalwart leaders, Minnesota s Michelle Bachmann, self confessedly joined the conservative party after reading a Gore Vidal novel that slandered the Founding Fathers There is even a well regarded legal theory that wants to derive the meaning of the Constitution based on the societal beliefs and norms of the day it was signed This works out very well for white males of the landed gentry not so well for blacks, Indians, Jews, Catholics, renters, or women I mention this not as a political commentary, but rather a critique on using historical antecedents to shape current political thought Using history in this way inevitably distorts that history Clearly, the American Revolution now carries a bit of baggage Thus, throughout Washington s Crossing, I paid close attention to whether Fischer had a particular point of view or axe to grind He does not Fischer makes a conscious effort to be objective and accurate This doesn t mean finding some false equivalence, but rather in presenting the facts as they are known The British were well led and professional, yet some British troops raped and pillaged across the countryside The Americans were brave and motivated by high ideals, yet they also kept slaves And no, I don t think slavery is something that can be blithely dismissed as a minor character flaw, such as posting half naked pictures of yourself on Craigslist, or casting a leering eye at the page boy.I mentioned above that it is hard to connect to the American Revolution It is a creation myth it is a political sword it predates photography and it is captured in stylized paintings Nothing about it has concrete reality There is no stark Matthew Brady like photo of the dead Fischer s achievement is to scour the subject so that it becomes something real The thing is, once you strip away the mythology, and discover what really happened, you end upimpressed than you were before


  2. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    Continuing my punctuated voyage down the road of Pulitzer winning books, this one from Fischer published in 2004 was really good Fischer does a great job explaining the dire situation of the Continental Army as they were obliged to leave New York and flee towards New Jersey At one point, there was a real threat that the capital of the colonies, Philadelphia, would be taken as well Without going too far down the road of sentimental nationalism too often, Fischer describes the courage of the r Continuing my punctuated voyage down the road of Pulitzer winning books, this one from Fischer published in 2004 was really good Fischer does a great job explaining the dire situation of the Continental Army as they were obliged to leave New York and flee towards New Jersey At one point, there was a real threat that the capital of the colonies, Philadelphia, would be taken as well Without going too far down the road of sentimental nationalism too often, Fischer describes the courage of the rabble that Washington was able to form into a coherent fighting group and the against all odds victories at Trenton and Prince Town now, Princeton The descriptions of the actors in this historical drama are all quite interesting I am reading 1776 by McCullough at the moment to see how he describes these same individuals and situations and found it wanting compared to this book by Fischer It strikes me that it would be fascinating to read a version of this year from the English point of viewMy impression of George Washington is that among his most important qualities, he was confident enough in the men around him, even those that he did not like such as Lee, that he was able to learn from his mistakes and to listen to sage advice without feeling his ego over shadowed This is a rare quality even now in a leader, 250 years later In Joseph Ellis 2004 biography, His Excellency George Washington published the same year as this book coincidentally , we learnabout his life and the fact that, particularly after Newark, he could have easily become a dictator in the style of a Trujillo or a Stalin with absolutely no one able to oppose him We as a Nation are so lucky that he took his modelfrom Cinninaticus than from Julius Caesar or Nero for that matter He was truly, despite his flaws, an exception leader and exactly the right person the US needed during that period.Highly recommended for the way he reconstructs the battles and also the incredibly dense appendices where he gathers all the data on military strength and losses on both sides from the many fragmentary sources as well as a historical analysis on how the famous image of Washington Crossing the Delaware River has been perceived during history worthy probably of its own standalone novel actually


  3. Max Max says:

    Washington s Crossing is a real page turner It is well researched and filled with detail yet never becomes tedious An added bonus is the historiography at the end showing all the ways the same events have been interpreted over the years by historians and artists of different nations For someone who is weary of constant references to American exceptionalism by the clearly unexceptional, Fischer s genuine depiction of American revolutionary leaders who deserve the accolade is wonderfully refres Washington s Crossing is a real page turner It is well researched and filled with detail yet never becomes tedious An added bonus is the historiography at the end showing all the ways the same events have been interpreted over the years by historians and artists of different nations For someone who is weary of constant references to American exceptionalism by the clearly unexceptional, Fischer s genuine depiction of American revolutionary leaders who deserve the accolade is wonderfully refreshing Standing out above the rest was George Washington Fischer depicts the American victories at Trenton and Princeton as a turning point in the war The British had driven the Continental army out of New York They along with their Hessian mercenaries occupied New Jersey in a display of overwhelming strength Loyalists were emboldened and as the revolutionaries became disheartened, capitulation seemed possible Instead the loyalists soon lost faith Washington s quick precision strikes at Trenton and Princeton showed the Americans could fight and the British could lose Cornwallis was forced to retreat settling into enclaves near New York as local militias supported by the Continental Army operated with guerilla tactics While thoroughly professional, the British and Hessians were limited in imagination and flexibility due to their strict hierarchy Their arrogance caused them to underestimate the fighting ability of their opposition making them vulnerable Their troops were constantly harassed outside their bases and became dispirited as the death toll mounted Support for the war in England suffered as its costs rose and the prospect of quick victory faded General Howe exaggerated his wins and minimized his losses in his reports to Parliament However, his requests for thousands of additional troops made many back in England realize they were not getting the straight story All of these things make one instantly think of the Viet Nam War George Washington demonstrated remarkable leadership He had the capacity to grow into the job and to learn from experience His presence and his calmness under pressure enabled him to lead by example His openness, the ability to draw out, to absorb new ideas and reach consensus made him highly effective His brilliance was in his ability to recognize and adopt the best available ideas regardless of their origin He was always mindful of public opinion This coupled with his deep morality led him to minimize casualties and treat prisoners and loyalists humanely drawing a sharp distinction with the British and Hessians Their widespread plundering turned the local population against them.Washington adopted a mobile, flexible military strategy that looks thoroughly modern He had a great sense of timing, of maintaining the initiative and keeping his opponents off balance His tactic of concentrating his army on isolated elements of enemy positions was effective and well executed Before the idea had a name he was clearly proficient in the use of force multipliers In this time when so many heroes seem tainted, here we have this highly credible account of the exploits of an American who deserves the title and our respect George Washington was truly an exceptional leader and Fischer gives us an exceptionally vivid account This is historical writing at its very best


  4. Lisa (Harmonybites) Lisa (Harmonybites) says:

    Less than two weeks ago I read David McCullough s 1776, a history of the first year of the Continental Army under George Washington, its mixed success in Boston and disaster in New York City and culminating after a night crossing of the Delaware River in their victory in the Battle of Trenton It was an engaging, well told story of such suffering and such blunders I left that book amazed the American Revolution, the army and cause survived to triumph This book covers much of the same territor Less than two weeks ago I read David McCullough s 1776, a history of the first year of the Continental Army under George Washington, its mixed success in Boston and disaster in New York City and culminating after a night crossing of the Delaware River in their victory in the Battle of Trenton It was an engaging, well told story of such suffering and such blunders I left that book amazed the American Revolution, the army and cause survived to triumph This book covers much of the same territory, with a particular focus on the crossing of the Delaware on Christmas of 1776, the ensuing Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton less than a week later The Editor s Note claims that No single day in history wasdecisive for the creation of the United States than Christmas 1776 On that night a ragged army of 2,400 colonials crossed the ice choked Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New York in the teeth of a nor easter that lashed their boats and bodies with sleet and snow Given the overlap in material I thought this book was likely to suffer in comparison That 1776 would likely make the stronger impression having been read first McCullough is arguably theengaging,concise writer but not only did Fischer have a different read, emphasis and details, but in the end Washington s Crossing is the stronger,scholarly book, packed with notes, maps and illustrations Although you d have to enjoy not just history but military history Fischer paints the crucial battles in a muchdetailed way than McCullough did, not simply in terms of grand strategy but thepersonal tragedies and individual casualties And if McCullough s book arguably throws George Washington in sharper relief, Fischer is superb in depicting the various armies, their soldiers and officers Fischer tells you of their training, their discipline, even about their drum calls The British commanders, the brothers General and Admiral Howe, come across in acomplex, human way the same is true of the Hessians and their officers For one, Fischer explained that even in contemporary times, a British officer could say there was no British army only a collection of tribes which is why the British army could never bring off a coup You understand what that meant when Fischer details the very different customs and cultures of various regiments the Scottish Highlanders going into battle in their kilts and determined not to let down their kin and clan fighting beside them The Americans were varied as well I had known blacks had served in the Revolutionary War I hadn t known that in at least one Massachusetts regiment they served in integrated units and that there were black officers, one of whom rose to the rank of colonel The various folk ways of the different American regions, and the need to wield them together into a unified force that didn t conflict with the revolutionary ideals were a big part of the story I really liked 1776, and I d recommend both books really And probably 1776 with thesweeping, less detailed overview is the one to read first But if I were forced to choose only one book to read or keep on the bookshelf, it would be Washington s Crossing. I d certainly be interested in readingof Fischer in the future


  5. David David says:

    Almost everyone knows the famous painting of General Washington standing heroically in a shallow boat, surrounded by soldiers in a variety of garb including James Madison holding an American flag, crossing the ice choked Delaware river The painting, done by a German artist 75 years after the fact, is a pretty romanticized depiction of the event But there s no debating the significance of what happened on that Christmas Day 1776 This book, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History, is a re Almost everyone knows the famous painting of General Washington standing heroically in a shallow boat, surrounded by soldiers in a variety of garb including James Madison holding an American flag, crossing the ice choked Delaware river The painting, done by a German artist 75 years after the fact, is a pretty romanticized depiction of the event But there s no debating the significance of what happened on that Christmas Day 1776 This book, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History, is a remarkable record of the events leading up to the crossing, the truth about the crossing itself, the rout of the Hessians in Trenton that followed, and the aftermath in the war for independence He describes in great detail the British invasion of New York some months after the Declaration of Independence, and the dismal state of the American effort at that point The impact of British and Hessian atrocities helped motivate the sluggish colonists but Washington s character and leadership shine most brightly I was newly fascinated by the vivid but very readable description of what Fischer believes to be the turning of the tide that led to American independence


  6. Gary Hoggatt Gary Hoggatt says:

    I ve been reading a lot of American Revolutionary history lately, and even so, David Hackett Fischer s 2003 volume Washington s Crossing, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history, stands out as excellent Much like David McCullough s fantastic 1776, Washington s Crossing focuses in on a narrow portion of the Revolutionary War and brings it to vivid life.Washington s Crossing is devoted to an in depth look at the New Jersey campaign of the winter of 1776 1777 However, Fischer doesn t just dump y I ve been reading a lot of American Revolutionary history lately, and even so, David Hackett Fischer s 2003 volume Washington s Crossing, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history, stands out as excellent Much like David McCullough s fantastic 1776, Washington s Crossing focuses in on a narrow portion of the Revolutionary War and brings it to vivid life.Washington s Crossing is devoted to an in depth look at the New Jersey campaign of the winter of 1776 1777 However, Fischer doesn t just dump you into the icy Delaware River without some background He starts off by examining each of the three armies involved, the American, British, and Hessian, looking at where they came from, how they viewed the Revolution, how they operated, and what their goals were This section is extremely interesting, and did a lot to enhance my understandings of all sides.The challenges Washington faced with Continental troops from all over the colonies and militia only vaguely under his command, the plans of British commanders Admiral and General Howe to pacify the countryside and aide the surely numerous Loyalists in keeping the colonies under the King, and the economic and historical reasons Hessians became excellent mercenaries, andall of this was illuminating Finally, Fischer gives an overview of the disastrous routing of the Continental Army during the New York campaign, which lead to the dire straights the Cause found itself in by November 1776.Once he turns to the New Jersey campaign, Fischer breaks the action down into four main parts the Battle of Trenton, the Battle of Assunpink Creek, the Battle of Princeton, and the Forage Wars The Battle of Trenton, of course, is where the title of the book and the famous painting comes from, and was the initial shock that stunned the British and Hessians Fischer does a great job of setting the scene for just how big a gamble this was for Washington He also dispels the common myth about the Hessians being drunk on Christmas, as instead explaining how their openness to attack was a combination of fatigue from being on watch for days on end for militia who had been harassing them and an assumption that no one could be crazy enough to attack in the intense blizzard that, in fact, served the American purpose excellently by covering their approach.My favorite part of the book, in fact, may be the part detailing the Battle of Assunpink Creek also known as the Second Battle of Trenton I hadn t even heard of this battle before It was the British counterstrike after their loss at Trenton, and the Americans were forced into defending the indefensible city they had just taken from the Hessians days before Through a combination of bravery from the men, ingenious generalship from Washington, and a willingness to fight the way that worked, instead of the way the British expected them to, the Americans not only won the battle, they were able to slip away from under the British s very noses in the middle of the night and make their way to Princeton, surprising the British once again with the American ability to show up where they weren t expected.What followed was the Battle of Princeton, where the Americans ran into reinforcements headed to Trenton and defeated the British in a pitched battle on open field a first In less than two weeks, the Americans had run up several victories against the British, and rallied a Cause they seemed nearly dead only a month before But they weren t done yet The rest of the winter was consumed by the Forage War, in which the Americans mostly militia harassed the British in their winter quarters and while they attempted to supply their army from the countryside By the spring of 1777, the British had gone from assuming the war was nearly over to, among some major leaders and many of the men, believing it could not be won.Fischer covers all the bases in Washington s Crossing He explains the motivations of the people and forces involved, he compellingly describes the battles with a novelist s flair, and he clearly lays out the effect the events of this book had on the Revolution as it continued He really leaves no angle unexplored in this thorough effort, and is entertaining all the while.One detail that aided the book greatly was the care given to the visual aspect of history Maps of all the major encounters are plentiful, as are portraits of the major players, and they all appear in the text when the person is introduced, and not sequestered in a glossy break in the narrative midway though the pages of the book This may not seem a big deal, but so many histories and biographies manage to mess it up that it s refreshing when it s handled well as it is in Washington s Crossing.Finally, a comparison, since I mentioned it at the beginning, to David McCullough s 1776 There is certainly overlap between the two books 1776 mainly covers between the Siege of Boston and the Battle of Princeton It does so quite well, and is fantastic at covering the American side of the story Washington s Crossing covers from the Battle of Long Island to the Forage Wars, and givesattention to the British and Hessian side of the story than does 1776 Both are excellent and I recommend them to any fan of American history If I had to pick one, it would probably be Washington s Crossing, by the narrowest of margins.British General Lord Cornwallis, known to Americans as the loser at Yorktown in 1781, was also involved in the New Jersey campaign, and told Washington after Yorktown, When the illustrious part that your Excellency has borne in this long and arduous contest becomes a matter of history, fame will gather your brightest laurels rather from the banks of the Delaware than from those of the Chesapeake Cornwallis was right as important as the later battles of the war were, Washington saved the Revolution with the Continental victories in the New Jersey campaign Washington s Crossing will show you why.I highly recommend David Hackett Fischer s Washington s Crossing to any fan of American or military history Fishcer s work is compelling, thorough, well researched, and most of all enjoyable History fans will not be disappointed


  7. Frank Stein Frank Stein says:

    A rare and impressive example of a modern academic doing military history, and doing it well.Yet clearly part of the reason Fischer wrote this book was to provide a kind of on the ground justification for his earlier work of social and cultural history, Albion s Seed, where he discovered four major folkways in America which he thought descended from four separate waves of migration Sure enough, he finds similar divisions here, such as that between the ordered liberty of the New England re A rare and impressive example of a modern academic doing military history, and doing it well.Yet clearly part of the reason Fischer wrote this book was to provide a kind of on the ground justification for his earlier work of social and cultural history, Albion s Seed, where he discovered four major folkways in America which he thought descended from four separate waves of migration Sure enough, he finds similar divisions here, such as that between the ordered liberty of the New England regiments and the levelling liberty of the Pennsylvania Associators Whats surprising perhaps is how convincingly he makes his case, describing how the Pennsylvanians, for example, elected their own officers and forbid sartorial displays of differing rank He further extends his social analysis to those on the British side like the fiercely independent Highland Foot regiments one of whom fought a bloody battle in its own right to keep its kilts and tartans back in Scotland and the infamous Hessians, who were sent over to the US as part of the Handelsoldieten solider trade in what some at the time called the deal of the century for the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, who received millions in gold for his troubles.Fischer also demonstrates the world historical consequences of these social and military confrontations along the Delaware river in late 1776 and early 1777 The defeat of the Hessians at the first battle of Trenton caused Europe, inspired especially by an anonymous pamphleteer who was probably Ben Franklin, to react against the mercenary trade and helped end it on the continent On the other hand, Washington is portrayed as one of the first to understand how to create a new American order out of distinctive and differing visions of liberty, namely, through negotiation and tolerance His command foreshadowed later government recognition of differences and compromise, yet kept the army united enough to achieve victory.Overall though, the book is mainly a well wrought military history, describing the lay of the land and dispositions of regiments and how they clashed in battle I haven t read anything like it in awhile, but I m certainly glad I read this one


  8. Joe Joe says:

    This book is so far, my personal favorite I wasn t 10 pages into it when I realized I was really going to enjoy this book David Fischer won the Pulitzer prize for History for it, and I can see why The story unraveled like no other I have ever come across Just like other reviewers have said, it should be required reading for anyone who is interested in learning about one of if not thee most important moment in American history.This is a wonderful story There is suspense, drama, impossibl This book is so far, my personal favorite I wasn t 10 pages into it when I realized I was really going to enjoy this book David Fischer won the Pulitzer prize for History for it, and I can see why The story unraveled like no other I have ever come across Just like other reviewers have said, it should be required reading for anyone who is interested in learning about one of if not thee most important moment in American history.This is a wonderful story There is suspense, drama, impossible odds, and an underdog who is triumphant in the end as our hero And it was all true What else can you ask for


  9. Robert Snow Robert Snow says:

    Some books you read and you say That was a good and enjoyable Now Washington s Crossing is very different, it changed my way of thinking about who we are, where we came from and about our hopes and dreams This is a powerful book about some of our darkest days and we ve had a few since This isthan a history book it can be a teaching book also If you want it to be Enjoy


  10. Richard Richard says:

    David Hackett Fischer has produced a highly readable and fact filled account of the important battles of the Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence This conflict required a young, self made country to draw soldiers from among its colonies to go against the strongest army of the time without the knowledge of how or when the outcome would play out I think the heart of the American War of independence was the people of all classes who joined regiments and went to war under so David Hackett Fischer has produced a highly readable and fact filled account of the important battles of the Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence This conflict required a young, self made country to draw soldiers from among its colonies to go against the strongest army of the time without the knowledge of how or when the outcome would play out I think the heart of the American War of independence was the people of all classes who joined regiments and went to war under sometimes terrible physical conditions, for pay, food and clothing which was meager when available, which was not often The glue which held this together was the aristocratic George Washington, whose prior military experience several decades earlier in the French and Indian War was far from stellar How all of this came together and led to ultimate victory is the driving force of the historical study of this war This story begins in the summer of 1776, after the new American commander, Washington, had driven the British from Boston The Colonists were able to use the terrain around that city to make it unbearable for the occupying British to remain there New York was a different story General Howe landed a powerful army of British regulars and German Hessians on Staten Island Washington s strategy quickly changed from stopping the invasion to moving his gradually disintegrating army from one disastrous defensive position to another Fischer provides clear maps showing the defeats and retreats from Long Island to Harlem Heights to Fort Washington by Washington s army after being tactically outmaneuvered by the British Navy and Army Washington s only successes during these months consisted of brilliantly executed and lucky withdrawals of his forces while on the verge of being enveloped by the enemy on several occasions After his retreat across New Jersey to Trenton, and then across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania, Washington was able to stop running, but most of his army was killed, captured or had deserted by then The remnants were due to end their enlistments at the end of the year It was entirely possible, by the winter of 1776, that the Revolution would run out of steam Washington made a daring plan to turn his fortunes around He crossed the Delaware River during the evening of Christmas to attack the Hessian regiment which had taken up winter quarters in Trenton He put his 2,400 men in boats and crossed the river at night in a strong ice and snow storm Fischer s descriptions and maps show how the Americans were able to maneuver into position to defeat a force of professional soldiers Not content to withdraw with his prisoners back to Pennsylvania and sit out the winter, Washington kept his forces in Trenton to face the British relief army of General Cornwallis at Trenton The Americans skillfully withdrew back along the route the British marched from Princeton, and fought successfully against the British there Unlike the two next disastrous winters when the American Army would almost starve and freeze to death in encampments, the 1776 77 winter would be spent by the Americans in New Jersey, carrying on a forage war of attacks which effectively kept the British main forces tied up in New York City until the following spring.Fischer writes a history which describes one of the great military reversals of all time The casual reader can find a wealth of interesting information in an enjoyable read, while the historian and scholar will be impressed by the depth of research used in writing the book Fischer always, though, is focused on the General who was able to keep his army going under all challenges, and the people who he led The American Army at this time could contain a collection of types such as Virginia gentlemen, New England seamen, Scot immigrants, western frontiersmen, Pennsylvania and New Jersey farmers Some were attired in their civilian clothing as part of militia regiments some wore the uniforms of state regiments Some were black it is interesting that the novelty of a racially integrated army starting in 1948 was actually preceded by the Revolutionary War I didn t make up the preceding description of American types fighting with Washington The list is actually from Fischer s critique of the iconic painting of Washington s Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze This American treasure in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was actually painted to inspire the 1848 European revolutionary movements by the artist, who had returned to Germany from America It is interesting that the original 1850 painting remained in Germany and was destroyed by the bombing of Bremen in World War II the famous painting in the Met is an exact Leutze copy of the original dated 1851 Fischer ends his book with an examination of the historiography of the contribution Washington made to the Revolution through his victories at Trenton I and II and Princeton I enjoyed reading his descriptions of the differing historical interpretations of these events by the Romantic Historians, Whigs, Nationalists, Debunkers, Multiculturalists and others This section is a mini education on historical method Fischer s position on the subject is that you can assign any motives you want to Washington and the Patriots, but the only fair conclusion of the cause they fought for is that they were trying to build a country according to the highest principles Two discoveries concerning the human condition were being put to the test here, not in academia but in a war for survival The first was the principle that a society could be organized on the basis of liberty and freedom, and it could actually work The other concerned the capacity of humans for order and discipline These Enlightenment altruisms, not necessarily compatible with each other, were at work in 1776, when Washington had to lead an army of individualists who came from different colonies representing different sectional interests, many of whom joined up to preserve the idea of American independence from vasalege to the Mother Country Nevertheless, these individualists needed to be trained to subvert their will and talents to the service of others, and to accept the military system of punishment and reward used to drill soldiers A last note on the importance of Leutz s painting Fischer is aware of the debunkers who have trashed this painting because it contains numerous historical inaccuracies Even the American flag dominating the center of the painting is incorrect, since it was not adopted until the following year Fischer, however, chose to use the painting on his book cover because it is the greatest visual symbol of the spirit of the times Leutz correctly portrays a boatload of soldiers facing great odds The atmosphere of high drama and feelings of desperation portrayed here were no doubt clearly felt by the small force who just faced five months of disastrous defeats and now were operating with a sense of urgency to attempt one , high risk try to save a movement that they had devoted their lives to America s greatest generation It could very well be that


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