IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE/ NATHANIEL PHILBRICK

Nathaniel Philbrick’s IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE  paints a definitive picture of George Washington’s 1780 victory at Yorktown, Virginia. It was the battle coordinated with the French Navy that almost didn’t occur but inexorably led to final victory in America’s Revolution.

Philbrick is masterful in combing through the myriad of detail and negotiation that finally coordinated the French naval forces and the American Continental Army to rout the British at Yorktown. Ironically, It was a naval victory without a single American ship. IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE also details the relatively unknown story of the brilliant efforts of Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene battling Lord Cornwallis to an exhausting draw in the hills of North Carolina.

Just as in his book Mayflower,  Philbrick is the master story-teller , combining an enormous amount of historical data into a cohesive and human narrative. His insight into the mind of George Washington is brilliant.  IN THE HURRICANE’S EYE is a most worthy addition to your American Revolution reading list.  A battle waged two hundred thirty-nine years ago and still so much to learn. Philbrick makes it a great tale. Narrative non-fiction at its best.

Other volumes by Philbrick concerning the American  Revolution:  Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution and Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution.

BUNKER HILL- A FIGHT FOR LIBERTY BECOMES A WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE

Nathaniel Philbrick’s new non-fiction work  BUNKER HILL, A CITY, A SIEGE, A REVOLUTION is a rewarding  history of the early stages of the American Revolution including the battles of Lexington and Concord,  Breeds Hill/Bunker Hill and the siege and eventual evacuation of Boston by the  British.  Philbrick, as was his style in his previous books Mayflower and  The Last Stand,  Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of Little Big Horn ( see review at gordonsgoodreads.com ) , is focused. His  historical research is precise  and the development of the characters of the  historical figures adds new dimension to this period of American History.

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Set in 1775 and 1776, Philbrick explores the passions and the conflicts between Patriots , Loyalists and the multitude of  views  of those suspended in the middle. Many Patriots remained loyal to King George but simultaneously reviled against the British Parliament, clearly defining the difference between a call for “Liberty”  and the pursuit of  “Independence.”   In the ensuing American Revolutionary War, liberty and independence became synonymous.

Readers will meet a key revolutionary who stands unique among the better-known  Sam Adams , John Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.  Thirty three-year-old physician Joseph Warren cobbled together a group of independent thinking community leaders  and often unmanageable  farmers turned militiamen  into what would become the Continental Army.  Warren was  a self-styled political and military leader.  If it were not for Warren’s  death at the Battle of Bunker Hill,  Philbrick  speculates that relatively obscure George Washington may never have been called  upon to assume  leadership  of the Patriot  forces, which  of course ultimately lead to Washington becoming the nation’s first president. Thus , Bunker Hill gains even greater historical importance.

The Battle of Bunker Hill  ( June 17, 1775) , which came two  months after  Concord and Lexington  ( April 19, 1775  “The Shot Heard Round the World” ) , is considered the actual beginning of the Revolutionary War.  Concord and Lexington are referred to as ” skirmishes.”  British loses were so great at Bunker Hill, despite a technical victory, General Howe concluded that the British had in fact lost the battle for Boston, and was later forced to withdraw to Halifax, Nova Scotia following  a winter long siege of the city .

I greatly appreciate well researched non-fiction  like BUNKER HILL that focuses on specific events and the individuals  that played a vital role in the larger story.   Another example is David McCullough’s  biography  John Adams , critical to understanding  the American Revolution, the  drafting of the Declaration  of Independence and the Constitution.  An enlightening part of the puzzle pertaining to  George Washington and the Revolutionary War  is David Clary’s book Washington Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution. The book details the relationship between  the childless George Washington and a glory seeking teenage French Aristocrat,  Marquis de Lafayette. They become unlikely comrades-in-arms , forming  an unbreakable trust with great impact on  the war’s outcome and the forming of a new nation.  

BUNKER HILL, A CITY, A SIEGE, A REVOLUTION is worthy of your time and your library.

NATHANIEL PHILBRICK- FROM THE MAYFLOWER TO THE LITTLE BIGHORN

Author Nathaniel Philbrick makes it easy and joyful to love history. I first became a fan when I read  Philbrick’s Mayflower.

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In 358  concise pages Philbrick manages to capture the essence of the complete story of the Pilgrims voyage, The Plymouth Colony,  Native Americans, King Philip’s War and of course Massasoit,  Miles Standish and William Bradford.  Philbrick’s  historical narrative  flows with an ease , in great part, because the reader never loses track of the principal players  and their recurring roles as history unfolds.  This single volume  painlessly educates  the reader about Puritan history, the odd collection of mankind called Pilgrims, the Mayflower’s voyage,  King Philips War and the beginning of the two century’s  of deceitful treatment of Native Americans .  The efficiency with which Philbrick tells this story is remarkable.

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For all of the aforementioned good reasons I eagerly purchased Philbrick’s THE LAST STAND, Custer, Sitting Bull and The Battle of The Little Bighorn.  Once again the author distills this often told story into 312 pages of narrative that places all of the elements of a  complex story, distorted by time and ideology,  into laser-like focus.  Interwoven in  both books is the vivid picture of  how not much had changed between the white settlers engagement with the Indians of  New England in 1620 and the duplicitous treatment of  America’s Great Plains Indians in the later part of the 19th century.  In both cases the author explodes many myths carried forward over the two centuries.   THE LAST STAND, much to absorb about American culture, Manifest Destiny, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Custer, Reno and what can occur when a presidential administration becomes distracted!

Because the subject matter of the Mayflower and Custer’s Last Stand is so much in the public domain you may think you already have a firm grasp on the narrative.  Think again! Take a second look  at these two landmarks in  American history through the eyes, mind and research of historian  and story-teller Nathaniel Philbrick.

Also by Nathaniel Philbrick In The Heart of The Sea, Sea of Glory; The Epic South Seas Expedition 1838-1842 .  I am currently reading  Philbrick’s latest work , Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution.