Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It
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Amid a great collection of scholarship and narrative history on the Revolutionary War and the American struggle for independence, there is a gaping hole; one that John Ferling's latest book, Whirlwind, will fill. Books chronicling the Revolution have largely ranged from multivolume tomes that appeal to scholars and the most serious general readers to microhistories that necessarily gloss over swaths of Independence-era history with only cursory treatment.
Written in Ferling's engaging and narrative-driven style that made books like Independence and The Ascent of George Washington critical and commercial successes, Whirlwind is a fast-paced and scrupulously told one-volume history of this epochal time. Balancing social and political concerns of the period and perspectives of the average American revolutionary with a careful examination of the war itself, Ferling has crafted the ideal book for armchair military history buffs, a book about the causes of the American Revolution, the war that won it, and the meaning of the Revolution overall. Combining careful scholarship, arresting detail, and illustrative storytelling, Whirlwind is a unique and compelling addition to any collection of books on the American Revolution.
had existed in the colonial era, one in which they were empowered to participate in shaping the world around them. Much of the fight to shape American society occurred following the war, configuring partisan politics for fifteen years or more after peace finally came. That is not to say, however, that the war failed to immediately sow some profound changes. For instance, Virginia faced the necessity of raising prodigious numbers of men in this protracted war, far more than had been required of
Arnold as the very symbol of the deadly corruption eating at America’s soul, an enemy even more threatening than Britain’s military prowess. There were those, however, who saw a ray of hope in Arnold’s treason. Perhaps his act of betrayal was what was needed to resurrect the earnest spirit of the early months of the war.45 This was close to the low point of the war for Washington, and he responded with boundless fury. He literally wanted to kill Arnold, and in fact Washington found a volunteer
official in America had advised that a tax “would cause a great Alarm & meet much Opposition,” and in fact nearly half the colonies had remonstrated against parliamentary taxation. The earliest had come from the Massachusetts assembly, which had endorsed the instructions adopted by a Boston town meeting for the city’s legislative delegation. Those instructions, drafted by Samuel Adams, expressed “Surprize” and the “deepest Concern” that the ministry was considering taxing the colonists. They
6:207. 17. Schecter, Battle for New York, 179–93. 18. GW to Lund Washington, October 6, 1776, PGWR 6:494; GW to Hancock, September 22, 1776, ibid., 6:369; Hans Huth, “Letters from a Hessian Mercenary,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 62 (1938): 494–95; Chernow, Washington, 255; Governor William Tryon to Germain, September 24, 1776, DAR 112:230–31. 19. GW to Hancock, September 8, 19, 1776, PGWR 6:248, 341; GW to Lund Washington, October 6, 1776, ibid., 6:493; GW to Samuel
Attitudes, Policies, and Practices, 1763–1789 (New York, 1971), 391–93; Charles P. Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army (New York, 1996), 52–53, 56–57; John R. Sellers, “The Common Soldier in the American Revolution,” in S. J. Underdal, ed., Military History of the American Revolution: Proceedings of the Sixth Military History Symposium, USAF Academy (Washington, D. C., 1976), 155; Charles H. Lesser, ed., The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of