ORTRAIT OF A GENERAL by William B. Willoox
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There are two aspects to the Revolutionary War: that of the Americans, who won it, and, equally important, that of the British, who lost it. In this outstanding book, subtitled Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence, a University of Michigan historian (author of Star of Empire) writes in fascinating detail of the reasons the British lost the war and the part Clinton, commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, played in the defeat. In the war the British had all the advantages, better troops ana equipment, and with few exceptions, better officers -- why, then, did they lose? After a 20-year study of the Clinton Papers in the University of Michigan, 300 volumes of reports, orders, letters and dispatches, the author supplies the answers. Among them are: internecine strife within the British command in America, the ineptitude of the British cabinet, the blunders of Lord George Germain of the War Office, whose ""incorrigible optimism was a gift beyond price to the American cause"", and above all, the character of Sir Henry Clinton. A brilliant strategist and an able but not a great general, Clinton, whose ""personality affected events"", cherished grievances, got on badly with his officers, vacillated when action was needed, and possessed ""a singular inability to get his plans carried out"". All this led to lethargy and squabbles in the British command, to combined operations that failed to combine, strategic plans that then came unstuck, and in the end to Yorktown and defeat. It is impossible here to give the scope and flavor of this lengthy but never dull psychological study of Clinton and of the whole British conduct of the war. Carefully annotated, terse, and imaginative in style, it is an invaluable addition to the annals of the War of Independence and is obligatory for all students.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1964
Publisher: Knopf