Washington's Crossing

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 564 pages
12 Reviews
Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. George Washington lost ninety percent of his army and was driven acrossthe Delaware River. Panic and despair spread through the states. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, Washington--and many other Americans--refused to let the Revolution die. Even as the British and Germans spread their troops across New Jersey, the people of the colony began to rise against them. George Washington saw his opportunityand seized it. On Christmas night, as a howling nor'easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off acounterattack by Lord Cornwallis's best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington's men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their armysuffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer's richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americansevolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. At the same time, they developed an American ethic of warfare that John Adams called "the policy of humanity," and showed that moral victories could have powerful material effects. The startling success of Washington and hiscompatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning, in a pivotal moment for American history.
 

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User Review  - Gregorio_Roth - LibraryThing

This book was selected in my top three books for the first quarter of 2012. Why study history? What does it matter to me? Because it shows the contingency in events that unfold in time and place. The ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kaulsu - LibraryThing

Fischer is my favorite writer of history, though this book held fewer surprises (events unknown to me) than my all-time favorite non-fiction work, [Albion's Seed], also by Fischer. Using untold ... Read full review

Contents

THE REBELS
7
THE REGULARS
31
THE HESSIANS
51
THE PLAN OF THE CAMPAIGN
66
THE FALL OF NEW YORK
81
THE RETREAT
115
THE CRISIS
138
THE OCCUPATION
160
THE BRIDGE
290
TWO COUNCILS
308
THE BATTLE AT PRINCETON
324
AFTERMATH
346
CONCLUSION
363
APPENDICES
380
HISTORIOGRAPHY
425
BIBLIOGRAPHY
459

THE OPPORTUNITY
182
THE RIVER
206
THE MARCH
221
THE SURPRISE
234
HARD CHOICES
263
GOOD GROUND
277
ABBREVIATIONS
487
NOTES
488
SOURCES FOR MAPS
545
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
547
INDEX
551
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About the author (2004)

David Hackett Fischer is renowned as one of America's most gifted and creative historians. He is University Professor at Brandeis University, and the author of such acclaimed volumes as Albion's Seed, The Great Wave, and Paul Revere's Ride.

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