THE FIRST SALUTE by Barbara W. Tuchman
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With her usual grace and sweep, the author of A Distant Mirror, The Proud Tower, and The Guns of August describes the American Revolution from the European point of view. Tuchman's great talent, the gift that distinguishes her from so many otherwise capable historians, is her ability to write history as intellectual narrative, to weave dense, interlocking facts into an ever-growing framework that is not necessarily chronological but which always ends up precisely where it is supposed to go. In this case, the goal is the Battle of Yorktown, which Tuchman considers the decisive conclusion of events rooted as deeply in international problems in Europe as in relations between Great Britain and her colonies: the Dutch and English trade wars, hostilities between England and France, political conflicts in England, the condition of the English nà vy in the 18th century. Concentrating in the first half of her book almost exclusively on the European side of things, Tuchman describes three non-Americans--English Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, English General Lord Cornwallis, and French Admiral de Grasse--who were at least as influential on the final outcome of the Revolution as the Founding Fathers. The result, as she moves on to describe Washington's 500-mile march from New York to Virginia and the Battle of Yorktown, is American history seen from the outside in--a fresh and ultimately dazzling perspective whose skillful arrangement is matched only by the sure scholarship on which it is based. Another winner from Tuchman--superbly readable, thoroughly researched.
Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1988
ISBN: 0345336674
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1988


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