1776 Reading Review

Katie Cohen Ms. Kenny AP US History, Period 5 15 August 2012 Summer Reading Assignment David McCullough’s 1776 is an insightful and honest account of America’s first war; the Revolutionary war. In the book, David McCullough describes events and skirmishes that led up to the independence of the United States of America and the events that followed it. The book primarily focuses on the military aspects of the revolutionary war. The variety of firsthand account, quotes, and perspectives of both the Americans and the British make 1776 an extremely well crafted story made up of firsthand facts.

To some 1776 may not be enjoyable or engaging, however, it is very precise and descriptive. David McCullough does an exceptional job of explaining the Independence of America in a way that does not bore the audience like most historical biographies do. Although it is clear from the beginning that David McCullough intentionally portrays America as the hero of the book, he allows the reader to identify with the British and even the king of Britain at the time as well. Honest and unbiased accounts are given towards both the Americans as well as the British.

Many candid and liberal accounts of the British and the Americans as put forward throughout the book. With much detail, David McCullough illustrates King George’s reaction to the rebellious American colonists as they begin to organize for freedom in the first chapter. He does not shed light on George Washington as a superior and more competent general than Howe. Both American and British forces are described in times of brilliance, luck, disappointment and shame. Not only is David McCullough unbiased, but he gives many in depth descriptions of his characters.

The reader is able to become familiar with the characteristics, physical appearances, and biases of a majority of the characters. Joseph Reed is described as “a young man with a long jaw and a somewhat quizzical look in his eyes (44),” and James Grant, “a grossly fat, highly opinionated scot (71). ” The descriptions of characters range from the British generals, to the American traitors. They make the book understandable and complex. Overall, 1776 is an enjoyable read, however, it could have focused more on he Declaration of Independence and the effects the war had on Great Britain. McCullough delivers the history as a story, while maintaining the attention of his audience. The usage of imagery is tremendous with few exceptions; all of the events were illustrated vividly. Quotes of the people who participated in the war are probably the most intriguing aspects of this book. I, personally, would recommend this book because it is intriguing and an easy way to learn essential information about the country in which we live in effectively.

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