A Revolutionary War chronicle of four important American defeats--in two, whole armies were mauled, all represented strategic disasters. The failure to take Quebec in 1775 and 1779 the naval debacle at Penobscot Bay gave the British control over Canada and enabled them to blockade northern New England. A third rout, the surrender of a quarter of Washington's forces at Fort Washington, N.Y. in 1776, drove the rebels inland; the subsequent move South saw the loss of Charleston in 1780, where more American soldiers were captured by a foreign enemy than in any battle until Corregidor in WW II. The author regards personal heroism as the chief source of ultimate American victory--the passionate attempt of Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan to take Quebec, for instance, and the unstinting aid of foreigners like the Baron De Kalb who died opposing Cornwallis in South Carolina. However, Flood also sketches the world strategic situation: the British were tied down by the French in India and the West Indies, and could not hold the American interior against frontier ferocity. In the Southern campaigns of 1780-81 that ended in Yorktown, revolutionary commanders displayed not only tenacity but brilliant field improvisation, parlaying defeats into victory through a long war of attrition. Thus what may appear to be an obscure or merely cute angle on the War of Independence captures the actual correlation of forces, including the element of morale. Flood does not spare praise of British leaders like Banastre Tarleton, Cornwallis' cavalry officer, making the American victory all the more impressive. A keen and readable contribution for a general audience.