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A tense, richly detailed narrative of the American Revolution.

In 1781, discouraged after five years of war, George Washington finally saw the tide turn.

National Book Award winner Philbrick (Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution, 2016, etc.) reprises the protagonists of his last history of the War of Independence in a meticulously researched recounting of the events leading up to the colonists’ victory at the Battle of Yorktown. Focusing on naval and military strategy, Philbrick—like Tom Shachtman in How the French Saved America (2017)—reveals the critical contributions made by the French navy, a fleet that had improved substantially since its defeat by Britain in the Seven Years’ War. In France’s Académie de Marine, students were taught “to think of a naval battle in terms of a chess game rather than a brawl,” inciting, “for the first time in centuries, a whisper of doubt” in the “collective psyche of the British navy.” Although British commanders were determined to win, they were faced with passionate French military men, such as the young Marquis de Lafayette, the Comte de Grasse, and the Comte de Rochambeau, as well as recalcitrant colonists. British successes emboldened, rather than intimidated, patriots. “Broken up into thirteen largely self-sufficient entities,” the author asserts, “the United States was a segmented political organism that was almost impossible for the British army to kill.” However, American soldiers were in a weakened state, starving and unpaid. Washington, who had recently learned of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal, feared mutiny. But, Philbrick argues persuasively, Arnold’s treason actually strengthened the patriots’ resolve “by serving as a cautionary tale during one of the darkest periods of the war.” The author portrays Washington as an aggressive, undaunted leader—even when facing distressing personal problems—who emitted a “charismatic force field.” One British officer reported feeling “awestruck as if he was before something supernatural” in Washington’s presence. Philbrick, a sailor himself, recounts the strategic maneuvering involved in the many naval encounters: ships’ positions, wind direction and strength, and the “disorienting cloud of fire and smoke” that often imperiled the fleet.

A tense, richly detailed narrative of the American Revolution.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42676-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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