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Washington's 1776 Essay

1317 words - 6 pages

Opening to the first page, George Washington is quoted, “perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” setting the stage for David McCullough’s book, “1776”, a historical narrative that avoided academic debates. His thesis being a tight narrative focused around the Continental Army and their leader George Washington. McCullough continued his popular writing techniques of character building by tracing the roads, reading the books, and seeing the houses of his key characters as they would have in their lifetimes. These techniques can be seen in his many list of books such as: “Path between the Seas”, “Truman”, and “John Adams”. His books have been written in ten languages and are ...view middle of the document...

He listed in his bibliography manuscript collections, diaries, journals, and memoirs from every social class and side of the war.
The first four chapters are used to build up to the drafting of the declaration. However, it is in this sense that critics like, John Ferling, fear McCullough title falls short in sharing events of the entire year, events such as the struggles in Congress and the states, as well as the Americans in Canada. Technical writing critics refer to his lack of parallel construction and to Faulkner when attempting to parse some of his sentences. Another point I would have to agree with would be the desire to see more maps or details of the positions on the war front. Perhaps a title alternative of “Washington’s 1776” would have gotten more approval.
The book gave graphic details of the side effects of lack of supplies as well as the harsh environment that soldiers endured. Dr. Kem stated,” that McCullough’s advocacy for Washington only enhances the experience. He does not take liberties to romance war or paint a censored picture of how it was.” From his experiences with Ken Burn doing numerous documentaries such as the nine episode Emmy Award winning 1990 film “The Civil War” McCullough contributes to this time period throughout his works. Other documentaries and films he contributed narratives for would include: twenty three episodes of the “American Experience”, five episodes of the “Smithsonian Ward” and the popular 2003 film “Sea biscuit”.
McCullough spent several paragraphs sharing considerable attention and detailed descriptions of supporting characters like: King George III, Nathanael Greene, General Howe and Henry Knox. Details like stature and personal feelings or reflections given later in the characters diaries or journals of the accounts. McCullough spent pages describing these characters through their documented personal histories.
One of the more focused stand outs of the American Army include Nathanael Greene. Greene was a self-educated Rhode Islander in the classics such as: Caesar and Horace in English translation, Swift, and Pope. Upon the death of his father Greene, the son of a rich business owner, was able to take over the family business and build himself a house. As a result, he now had the ample means to buy whatever books he needed and he turned his mind to the military arts. Greene then became one of the most educated military leaders of the Revolution. While having no actual military experience at all, Greene was the youngest general officer in the army after quickly elevated to the level of Brigadier General at the age of thirty-three years. When he entered the fray in Boston it was only to find things in disarray. “Washington arriving in the first week of July, was told he had 20,000 men, but no one knew for certain.” As exact figures turn out, Washington only had about 16,000 and of that only 14,000 were actually fit for duty.
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