Magnificent ... Philbrick’s writing is just superb, and while he manages to incorporate many marvelous and little know stories and vignettes, the book reads almost like a Tom Clancy thriller, with political intrigue, international machinations, and suspense keeping the pages turning even if the reader is already basically familiar with the story ... this book will delight, educate, and entertain while it brings to light the genius, chance, and sacrifice that finally brought about America’s independence.
... a tension-filled and riveting account of the alliance that assured American independence ... Philbrick is a master of narrative, and he does not disappoint as he provides a meticulous and often hair-raising account of a naval war between France and England and a land war that pitted American and French troops against British regulars and Loyalist volunteers ... Not everyone will find Philbrick’s detailed coverage of naval and military engagements easy to follow or fully engaging. A landlubber like me felt overwhelmed by some of the nautical language. This should not deter readers, however, for despite the author’s obvious relish in recounting the battles on sea and land, those engagements are not the entire focus of the book. Philbrick has a second, perhaps more compelling theme: how the character of men shapes the history they make ... In In the Hurricane’s Eye Philbrick occasionally succumbs to the lure of historical fortune-telling that marred his previous book ... But such pronouncements — offered largely, one suspects, for dramatic effect — do not detract from the authentic drama of the story Philbrick has to tell, a drama that ultimately centers not on nature but on Washington.
It's a startling take on a familiar history that one might expect from this author ... The book is filled with land battles, sea maneuvers, conspiracies, hurricanes ... Along the way Philbrick guides the marine-challenged reader ... There are a lot of troops, ships and engagements to keep track of. The book has helpful battle maps, but this reader could have used more. And my dictionary had to substitute for the publisher's failure to provide a glossary of 18th-century nautical and military terminology. But these are minor complaints. Philbrick's book is a fascinating fresh take on an old story. As is often the case in war, victory in the American Revolution was won by both genius and luck.
Philbrick manages to impart the immediacy of breaking news to his descriptions of marches, skirmishes and battles. From describing crucial shifts in the wind during naval conflicts to detailing the unimaginable horror of war wounds, he places the reader in the midst of the fray.
The subtitle of Philbrick's book is puzzling. Even the most sympathetic reader will be hard-pressed to attach any 'genius' to George Washington in this story...but boosting a national hero is surely forgivable on Philbrick's part, and the vast remainder of his story is told with all the zest and eloquence his millions of readers have come to expect ... In the Hurricane's Eye is exactly the kind of rousing narrative account [The Battle of the Chesapeake] deserves.
Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Hurricane’s Eye, the final book in his trilogy on the American Revolution, showcases the same research and storytelling skills that made the first two books, Bunker Hill and Valiant Ambition, successful. Philbrick brings a third strength to Hurricane’s Eye: a personal understanding of sailing ... For a landlubber, the detail can be too much at times, and maps, so good at charting land battles, don’t work so well on water ... Some of the best material in the book recounts the battle of egos and strategies between [George] Washington and the French.
The author...excels when writing about sailors and the ocean. He vividly renders the interplay of skill and chaos in naval combat by massive fleets, as well as the fury of hurricanes ... Much of the time, In the Hurricane’s Eye delivers on the author’s promise to put 'the sea where it properly belongs: at the center of the story' ... Mr. Philbrick’s narrative bogs down, however, when it becomes too terrestrial, detailing too closely the tedious slog of armies across the vast stretches and swollen rivers of the Carolinas during 1780-1781. He inflates the importance of the traitor Benedict Arnold (one of the subjects of his previous book). And by marooning readers on land for too many pages and through too many digressions, Mr. Philbrick misses a golden opportunity to explain the failure of Congress to sustain a credible navy ... Apparently uneasy with crediting the foreign forces for victory, Mr. Philbrick diminishes the achievements of the French commanders, in order to render Washington the ultimate architect of victory and the 'genius' of the book’s subtitle. Although this may be astute marketing, this gambit requires authorial gymnastics ... Mr. Philbrick astutely concludes, 'the United States was a facade of a country—a collection of squabbling states with the barest window dressing of a federal government.'
[Philbrick] will have another hit with this chronicle ... All readers interested in the Revolutionary War, and especially fans of naval history, will find Philbrick’s fresh account rewarding, right through the epilogue describing what happened to many of the key figures going forward.