Chris Corley
 
May 24, 2008 | Chris Corley

RECOMMENDED READING -

This dramatic book tells the story of those who marched with George Washington in 1776, the year that the Declaration of Independence was written. The whole of America's future lay in the hands of General George Washington and his "rabble" army - composed of soldiers of all ages, most with no military experience whatsoever.

It is an inspiring story, witten in a fluidly narrative style that includes excerpts of field notes of officers, soldiers, and other people of the time whose journals have survived the ages. It tells of a loosely assembled army of American rebels that fought against a highly organized British army that outfunded, outmanned and outgunned the Americans at nearly every confrontation. The dramatic battles in Boston and New York are particularly compelling, as well as the build up to General George Washington's heroic crossing of the Delaware and the ensuing battles in Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey.

"It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater and more lasting effects upon the history of the world." - Sir George Otto Trevelyan, in his classic study of the American Revolution.

The aformentioned quote from Sir George Otto sums up the feeling you have while reading this book. Namely, how could such a small ill-equipped and inexperienced group of men accomplish so much under such difficult conditions and in the face of such a powerful foe ?

The perseverance of George Washington and his ability to keep his troops composed had much to do with it. These brave men fought and died for the freedoms which we enjoy to this day. We owe them much.

David McCullough has received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award twice each. His biography "John Adams" was recently aired as a 7 part original mini-series on HBO, which was excellent. Mr. McCullough has also been honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award and the National Humanities Medal.

Chris Corley
 
May 3, 2008 | Chris Corley

RECOMMENDED READING - 'American Sphinx' by Joseph J. Ellis

I just finished a pretty fascinating book about Thomas Jefferson called American Sphinx. It was written in 1996 by Joseph J. Ellis, a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College and a National Book Award Winner.

The book takes us through 5 distinct intellectual segments of Jefferson's life, through both his public and private moments and correspondences ...

Philadelphia : 1775-1776

Paris : 1784-1789

Monticello : 1794-1797

Washington, DC : 1801-1804

Monticello : 1816-1826

The thrust of the book is to delve into Jefferson's mind to attempt to understand how he developed his fascinating views on individual freedoms and governance of men. The author also speculates how Jefferson reconciled some seemingly contradictory viewpoints that he held. For instance - how Jefferson reconciled his views of individual freedoms with his ownership of slaves and how he reconciled his essentially unilateral actions in the procuring of the Louisiana Purchase while at the same time opposing that kind of unilateral power for a government official.

The book is extremely well written, fluidly and intelligently, and portrays Jefferson as an extremely complex, erudite and somewhat solitary man. It is a somewhat provocative book that any American history buff will be sure to enjoy.

 
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