Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence

Palgrave Macmillan. Sept. 2014. 272p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781137278777. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781137474568. HIST
In this pithy volume, journalist (American Heritage; Invention & Technology) Kelly surveys the military history of the War of Independence, a battle in which the novice soldiers brought to bear "determination and perseverance…the Americans' most important resources." While the Revolutionary War is often viewed as secondary to major political events such as the drafting of President Thomas Jefferson's great Declaration of Independence, without the hard-fought, grinding victory, all the haughty rhetoric of freedom would have been to little benefit. Kelly's fast-paced work is packed with anecdotes of noteworthy generals including the duplicitous Benedict Arnold, the cunning Nathanael Greene, George Washington's chief of artillery Henry Knox, and the freethinking hero Ethan Allen; all of whom were making it up as they went along.
VERDICT Kelly's brief overview of the conflict, while adding little to the scholarship, is useful for those unfamiliar with the military aspects of the revolution and is a highly engaging read. Readers looking for a more nuanced, scholarly treatment of the Revolutionary War should try George Athan Billias's George Washington's Generals and Opponents or John Shy's A People Numerous and Armed.
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