An extraordinarily difficult book to define and appraise. I found it absorbingly interesting reading -- not always easy reading -- but always rewarding, rewarding in that, for me at least, it gave greater reality to the figure of George Washington than any other book I have ever read. It is fiction only in that the author has recreated, in his own terms, the man, the man around him, and the incredible story of the New York campaign, beginning with the tragic defeat of Brooklyn Heights, the miraculous escape, the continuous retreat, -- New York, Westchester, the fall of Fort Washington, retreat again to New Jersey, through hostile country, -- Princeton, New Brunswick, Trenton: -- defeat, escape, rout, desertion, famine, cold, betrayal by friend and foe. And finally, when victory seemed most hopeless, the recrossing of the Delaware on Christmas night, a ""poor, shivering rabble"" the sound of whose feet resound down the years. The thing that dominates the book is the figure of Washington, growing in stature with defeat, beloved of his few intimates, but always alone, simple, selfless, idealistic, rising above his weaknesses to magnificence, unwittingly. There is tragedy in the picture, but there is conviction. And there is -- for today, comfort in the thought that our wars, from the start, began with defeat. Howard Fast handles history as one who is so wholly steeped in the facts that the story and the characters emerge fully developed, he recounts history with the fire of fiction.