Book Short: 1776 by David McCullough

"Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages." – George Washington

1776 is a magical book — but I’m hardly the first person to say this. McCullough does a stellar job at recounting the events of 1776 and the dire straits Americans found themselves in when fighting for independence from the British.

We get good glimpses of Washington the leader: delegating responsibility when he sees brilliance in his deputies (like Gen. Knox), being brutally honest with himself ("Seeing things as they were and not as he wished them to be was one of his salient strengths") but relentlessly upbeat to the people underneath him, and of course, never throwing in the towel. (For more I’ll have to check out His Excellency by Joseph Ellis.)

One side note on studying history: While I could never get into U.S. history in school in the chronological format (see: my dismal AP score), I have gotten engaged as I pursue it self-directedly in the spirit of a mind-map. In other words, I picked the most interesting period (revolutionary war) and now will emanate from there, pursuing tangents and preceding and subsequent events and eventually I hope to coalesce a complete picture around my revolutionary war starting point. An interesting difference in approaching the material…

1776 is accessible and fun — a must-read for anyone interested in U.S. history or in simply a defining year in the creation of a new country.

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