Revolutionary: George Washington at War

Random. Apr. 2019. 400p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780812996999. $32; ebk. ISBN 9780812997002. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarNeither a thorough biography nor a mere recap of the Revolutionary War, this work is a history of the events and experiences that shaped George Washington's ambitions, ideologies, and character, and fueled his revolutionary zeal. Military historian O'Connell (Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman) argues that despite his challenges—military amateur, inexperienced army, inflated ego, elitism, explosive temper, ill-advised decisions—Washington's passion for the Glorious Cause, his restraint, humility, decency, commanding presence, and ability to inspire loyalty made him the embodiment of the revolution. Mindful that revolutions could degenerate into tyranny and chaos, Washington vehemently disallowed atrocities (though there were many beyond his control) and vigilantly shunned displays of corruption or dictatorial tendencies. O'Connell contends that the British were doomed to lose the war because they underestimated the Patriots' fervor but emphasizes that it was solely because of Washington's restraint as the military commander, high moral standards, and fervent commitment to republicanism that the United States avoided disaster during and after the conflict.
VERDICT O'Connell debunks myths and explains motives, shortcomings, and misperceptions in this historical saga that will engage both general and academic readers.
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