George Washington's War

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9781402202223: George Washington's War

The American Revolution was won not on the battlefields, but in the mind of George Washington. A compulsively readable narrative and extensive new history, George Washington’s War illuminates how during the war’s winter months the young general created a new model of leadership that would become the foundation of the new nation and the model for the American presidency.

Based on more than 1,500 original sources and written in the tradition of David McCullough’s John Adams, historian Bruce Chadwick, Ph.D., dramatizes how the greatest threat to the American Revolution was not the British Army, but the infancy of the United States. During those terrible times, Washington had to create a military with soldiers who most often quit after a brief enlistment; deal with a backbiting and often uncaring Congress and the emerging states; overcome starvation, mutinies and a smallpox epidemic; and face winters so bitter that some of his men, without blankets or shoes, would freeze to death. By holding together an often despairing army and a disparate nation through creative, ingenious and often shocking methods, and by supporting democratic institutions to do so, Washington sired the republic that we know today.

Authoritative and dramatically rendered, George Washington’s War is a spellbinding account of the hardships and real-life events that forged a great leader and a nation.

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About the Author:

Bruce Chadwick, Ph.D., lectures in American history at Rutgers University while also teaching writing at New Jersey City University. He is a former journalist and the author of four other historical books: Brother against Brother: The Lost Civil War Diaries of Lt. Edmund Halsey, Two American Presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis 1861-1865, Traveling the Underground Railroad and The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film. He lives in New Jersey.

From Publishers Weekly:

Instead of offering a chronicle of maneuver and combat, this illuminating if deferential biography examines Washington’s far more trying difficulties off the battlefield. Historian Chadwick (The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film) focuses on the Continental Army’s travails during its winter encampments—not just the Valley Forge epic, but equally dire experiences at Morristown, N.J., during the winters of 1776-7 and 1779-80, which were a test of Washington’s political and administrative talents. Supplies had to be wheedled out of a do-nothing Continental Congress, fractious state governments and tight-fisted local farmers; hospitals and inoculations had to be supervised; recruits had to be trained—or at least persuaded not to mutiny over back pay or go home when their brief enlistments expired. Through it all, Chadwick says, Washington walked a tightrope between imposing the authoritarian measures needed to keep the Revolution alive and protecting the liberties it upheld. The author portrays Washington’s wartime experience as a schooling in democratic leadership, one that imparted truths about federalism and the need for a strong national government and Executive Branch that he would champion in the 1787 Constitution, as well as managerial precepts he would apply during his Presidency. At times, Chadwick’s admiration borders on reverence: he puts the best possible face on Washington’s ambivalence toward slavery, and is smitten with contemporary accounts of his "graceful" gestures and "majestic" walk. But Chadwick’s emphasis on logistics, organization and politics gives a more realistic view of the Revolutionary War than the usual narrative of campaigns and battles, and a more convincing measure of Washington’s achievement in leading it.
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