Libro 8/52 :: 1776 by David McCullough


My understanding of the American Revolution was juvenile, at best.



Taxation without representation.

Boston Tea Party.

Lexington & Concord.

Bunker Hill.

Washington crosses the Delaware.

Declaration of Independence.

Bah-duh-boom, Bah-duh-bing….

We got a new nation.



Unsurprisingly, the real story is far more complicated – and interesting.



In 1776, McCullough re-tells the birth of our nation in incredible detail. And while my understanding of history expanded significantly, the book’s ending ruined the whole deal for me.



That seems odd, right?



It’s 1776.

We all know how it ends.



And that’s the problem here. McCullough overcompensates for the lack of a suspenseful finale. 90% of the book is spent detailing how Washington is in over his head and the prospects for an American victory look all but impossible.



Chapter after chapter we learn of American woes.


No experience.

No money.

No uniforms.

No food.

Guns… no gunpowder.

No heat.

No boots.



The moment things begin to turn for the Continental Army with a gutsy sneak attack after a night march in a nor’easter… the book ends.



It’s like McCullough invested all his energy in weaving a story demanding the reader ask, “How on earth do the Americans pull this out?” When the time arrives to elaborate on how we did in fact beat the most powerful army on the planet, the answer underwhelms.



McCullough basically sums it up by saying, “And from here the momentum shifted. You guys know the rest. The war lagged on for another several years before the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war in 1783. Peace. I’m outta here.

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 8.21.46 AM


390 pages of setbacks and sadness.

10 pages to gloss over the Mel Gibson Patriot part.






Bottom Line: Incredible research from a guy who has won 2 Pulitzers. Glad this one didn’t win him a third.



Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( He’s reading 52 books this year – or at least he’s trying. So far he’s ahead of schedule.


Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 8.23.25 AM

LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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31 replies


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