In Mr. Ferling’s reconstruction of the Yorktown campaign, he shows how the choices the British faced might have led to different outcomes ... Mr. Ferling’s discussion of what Cornwallis might or might not have done when French warships appeared in the Chesapeake demonstrates the strength of this well researched but sometimes unfocused book and its weakness. Less concerned, apparently, with the war than with the planning of the war, Mr. Ferling often seems to devote more words to what didn’t happen as to what did. His fair-minded assessments of the decisions commanders made or did not make, based on the information they had, will be of greater interest to specialists than to general readers.
Having written several books on the Revolutionary War, Ferling knows the subject intimately, and it shows throughout this impressively researched work ... Ferling effectively explains the inner workings of military strategy. His crisp writing, always accessible and engaging, turns what could be a too-lengthy read into a fast-paced page-turner. Ferling’s lengthy, comprehensive, and essential work has staying power and should become one of the leading resources on the Revolutionary War.
A masterly history of the lesser-known second half of the Revolutionary War ... Ferling reminds readers that American patriots, ecstatic after the 1777 victory at Saratoga, were not expecting the fighting to continue for nearly twice as long as before. In the scene-setting preface, the author gives low marks to both commanders, dubbing Washington a figure of great political acumen but risk-averse ... Ferling paints a vivid yet bleak picture: War weariness was widespread, Colonial currency nearly worthless, enlistments falling, and Washington increasingly desperate for men and supplies ... A traditionalist, Ferling concludes that, but for its blunders, Britain would have defeated the rebels, who made their own blunders—but not enough to lose. Impeccably researched, as usual, the book is a must-read for any student of Revolutionary history. Yet another excellent work of early American history from one of its best practitioners.