1776 by David McCullough


“In the House of Lords in March of 1775, when challenged on the chances of Britain ever winning the war in America, Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, had look incredulous.  ‘Suppose the colonies do abound in men, what does that signify?’ he asked. ‘They are raw, undisciplined, cowardly men.’ And Lord Sandwich was by no means alone in that opinion.”

From the opening pages of the book, 1776 had me hooked.  I appreciated so much that McCullough chose to start the first chapter in London, with the sentiment of the King and Britain’s Parliament.  As early as grade school, we are taught what led the colonies to revolt against the Crown, but rarely did we see a point of view from across the Atlantic.  This was important, and set the stage for all the actions that followed.

McCullough’s writing is crisp and exciting.  His research is wonderfully thorough.  Most readers find that there is much in this book that is new information to them.  Not some dry history book, 1776 tells a thrilling and suspenseful tale of the birth of an ideal, of a nation and the extreme bravery of the men that put their lives on the line to get us there.

What impressed me the most, however, was the understanding that the Rebels really were the underdogs.  The Americans had virtually no chance of succeeding.  They were ill-equipped, under-manned and inexperienced.  At the first battle, the raw recruits deserted.  To see them turn it around was nothing short of miraculous.  It makes one realize that God must have been on our side.

My only disappointment of the book was that it ended too soon.  I realize the subject matter was only the year 1776 and the final pages did a quick synopsis of the rest of the war.  I wished the author would have taken the time to complete his writings about the American Revolution either in this book or in a subsequent work.  It’s that good, and it’s that important.

4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
386 pages
Published in 2005

Amazon Book Preview of 1776


About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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3 Responses to 1776 by David McCullough

  1. craigmaas says:

    I read this book in April of 2009 and said, “The writing was excellent and the stories were very interesting but picking a single year was a mistake. It would be okay if McCullough were to follow up with 1777-1783 the sequels and 1770-1775 the prequels.
    The book looks at 1776 through the eyes of the military commands, both the Americans and British. This also limits the scope of the book.” I gave it a B- for that reason

    • Suzanne says:

      I appreciated that the author also quoted letters from ordinary soldiers and their wives, but you’re right, the scope could have been much larger had he included more non-military colonials. However, I think he intended to keep the scope narrow. Too bad for his readers…

  2. Suzanne says:

    Wikipedia had this to say about “1776”:

    McCullough’s 1776, tells the story of the founding year of the United States, focusing on George Washington, the amateur army, and other struggles for independence. Because of McCullough’s popularity, its initial printing was 1.25 million copies, many more than the average history book. Upon its release, the book was a number one best-seller in the United States. HBO is scheduled to release a miniseries adaptation of 1776 in 2011, possibly involving Tom Hanks, who produced John Adams.

    McCullough considered writing a “sequel” to 1776. However, he signed a contract with Simon & Schuster to do a work about Americans in Paris between 1830 and 1900, which was released in May 2011. Spanning multiple topics and people, “the book will touch on achievements in literature, medicine, art, architecture, music, and dance.”

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