Eighteen year-old Lieutenant James Monroe, later our fifth President, has his glorious hour at last when he leads the charge against Hessian cannon and becomes the Americans' only serious casualty in their surprise attack on Trenton. Otherwise the hero here might as well have been John Marshall, Monroe's more charismatic companion, or William Washington, his immediate superior during the battle, or even Private Yankee Doodle, the alter ego of Joseph Plumb Martin whose account of a common foot soldier's lot in Washington's army is apparently one of Hanser's prime sources. Despite the thin narrative thread of Monroe's presence and the regrettable failure to include a bibliography, this is unusually engaging military history. Even readers not normally inclined to the genre can appreciate the pride of Monroe's Third Virginia rifle company in their innovative weapons and the panic of raw recruits getting their first look at Hessian regulars at Kip's Bay. Skilled documentary reportage.