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 Philadelphia.
Yet, 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 ruined.
Fischer'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.
David Hackett Fischer is University Professor at Brandeis University, and the author of such acclaimed volumes as Albion's Seed, The Great Wave, Paul Revere's Ride and Liberty and Freedom.
"A meticulous and brilliantly colored account of the period surrounding George Washington's famous sally across the Delaware river in 1776." --Wall Street Journal
"Fisher's thoughtful account describes how Washington, in a frantic, desparate month, turned his collection of troops into a professional force, not by emulating Europeans but by coming up with a model that was distinctly American." --The New Yorker
"History at its best, fascinating in its details, magisterial in its sweep." --Boston Globe
"Perhaps most valuable is Fischer's portrait of Washington. Instead of presenting the Napoleonic hero of the painting, he shows a proud youth who evolved into a humble democratic leader." --Newsweek
"Fischer...describes in moving detail the military campaign of 1776-1777 and the British, German and American soldiers who fought it. As in the familiar 1850 painting by Emmanuel Leutze that inspired Fischer's title, Washington stands firmly at the book's center. His actions as commander of the American army were pivotal for both his future and that of the fledgling American republic." --Washington Post Book World
"A model of modern historical writing." --National Review
"A highly realistic and wonderfully readable narrative... Fischer's ability to combine the panoramic with the palpable is unparalleled in giving us a glimpse of what warfare back then was really like." --The New York Times Book Review
"A tale told with gusto, punctuated by finely rendered accounts of battles and tactics... Helps us understand anew a great American icon." --Los Angeles Times Book Review
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