Tuesday, January 26, 2010

4. 1776 - David McCullough

Did I want to revisit 8th grade history class? Didn't I know everything about the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"?

Obviously not.

And many told me that I did not understand the true meanings behind the words, though I had memorized them to impress my high school government teacher. They were right. Reading 1776 is like quoting the Bible or the Torah, but not knowing the other stories about how Noah tried to make babies with his sons' wives. It is learning that you do not know as much as you think you do.

I have a problem with that, though I will often admit to it.

George Washington, portrayed as a faultless leader, didn't like the New England armies and bemoaned the lackluster performances of his soldiers. It wasn't difficult to agree; many of them turned tail and ran when the Hessians (what? I thought this war was between the United Colonies and England?) approached their battle lines.

Like many books about history, this one is meticulously researched. Unlike many books about history, it is written from the viewpoint of all involved, whether a wife of one of the "rebels," an English ship captain, or the "best friend" of George Washington. One woman, whose husband died during an attack on Fort Washington, took his place at the cannon. These are the stories that we need to share, read, and understand.

4.0 out of 5.0 Washington Martini.

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