Masters of narrative history ... their finest work: The authors have not only told the epic story of endurance that the Valley Forge experience represents but also placed it squarely in the context of what was occurring on the political, diplomatic and broader military fronts ... Messrs. Drury and Clavin clearly admire Washington. Never do they sink into hagiography, however. Rather, they approach Washington’s leadership with a refreshing mix of detachment, appreciation of his strengths and acknowledgment of his shortcomings—as well as a nice dash of humor ... The authors are to be congratulated for not shortchanging the forces and personalities on the British side ... above all, is a deeply human chronicle of the events from Washington’s setbacks in autumn 1777 to his defeat of the British at the Battle of Monmouth Court House in June 1778 ... recounts an epic of suffering, endurance and martial rebirth that Americans should never forget.
Drawing extensively from primary sources, Drury and Clavin leave few stones unturned, from accounts of the fall campaigns to the Continental victory at Monmouth Courthouse. All of the grisly details of supply failures, corruption, conspiracy, bureaucratic waste, and the reforms that resurrected the American cause are exquisitely well told in this exceptionally vivid history, one that will please all who are interested in the revolutionary era and American history in general.
Gripping, panoramic ... Judicious excerpts from the diaries of enlisted men and officers elucidating the squalid misery and deprivation at Valley Forge nearly waft off the page ... There are valuable insights, too, into the strategic thinking of British general William Howe and admiral Richard Howe, the aristocratic brothers charged with putting down the rebellion. As the authors sketch out the dizzying array of obstacles Washington faced, the reader gains an appreciation for the genuinely heroic role he played in the founding of the United States of America.
In the authors’ account, Washington emerges as fallible but indispensable; it is hard to imagine that another commander would have had the same success in the face of so many hardships. A bonus is the authors’ examination of what happened to the principals after the war, ranging from death by chicken bone to enshrinement at Westminster Abbey ... A fluent, readable story that corrects mythmaking errors and provides a more nuanced narrative in their place.