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Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution

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Drawn from field documents, letters, diaries, and other sources, this volume takes full account of the scope of Nathanael Greene's remarkable ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution

Overall customer rating: 4.000
Srvnt2Him

Self Made Military Genius Comes to Life!

by Srvnt2Him on Apr 26, 2007

?What puppies and pygmies men are?Many of us are the dupes of knaves and the tools of folly. O this war! I wish to God it was over!? (228) His friend Thomas Paine wrote in December of 1776 that ?these are the times that try men's souls.? But to such an extent the self-taught, self-conscious, self-made non-practicing Quaker (who was not unfamiliar with the inside of an alehouse)? this son of Rhode Island never expected his soul to be tested so deeply and so profoundly. Nathanael Greene, the man who mysteriously went from a private with a limp to General commanding militia overnight, eventually became an exceptionally competent general and one of America?s greatest Revolutionary hero?s and stood the test that indeed, tried the souls of man. Terry Golway has written in Washington?s Generals: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution a biography on the life of Nathanael Greene that provides a more general reading and entertaining introduction to his life and to his business and military career. It also beautifully peers into his personal life with Caty, the young, vivacious and frolicking wife who spent many of the winter encampments with Martha Washington and the General as well as frequent and intimate correspondence of intrigue. Written in chronological narrative style, Golway has the experience of research and has utilized documents, letters, diaries, and other sources to illustrate Nathanael Greene?s remarkable accomplishments. Golway is a frequent contributor to American Heritage magazine, The Boston Globe and The New York Times newspapers. His previous books include research about New York City?s firefighters entitled, So That Others Might Live. He has written several books on Irish history; The Irish in American, Irish Rebel, and For the Cause of Liberty, a story of 1,000 years of Ireland?s history. He currently resides in Maplewood, New Jersey. Golway?s presentation of Greene misses for the scholar in several areas. Contextually, the author doesn?t fully present the effects of self-consciousness in the lack of education and Greene?s concern of honor and reputation. The author presents the historical situations that produced the fiction and the expressions of Greene?s concerns, but failed to contextualize the General in historical social context of the eighteenth century mindset. Thus, it is understandable that Greene felt the dupe or the knave. His frequent verbal sparing with Congressional leaders, his defending of business practices, as well as his tenacity on the battlefield were all intricately intertwined into his desire to overcome his lack of formal education and to be accepted amongst his peers. Golway entertains profoundly, especially in the delights of Caty Greene. The reader is taken with the General?s passion and affection for the young woman who relished in being the envy of the winter encampments. But Golway does a superb job in presenting to the general public a scholarly picture of Nathanael Greene, who to them has been forgotten. He demonstrates how he became the heir-apparent to George Washington, earned the Commander in chief?s trust, even through his shortcomings. Golway doesn?t shy away from Greene?s personality faults. The reader gets a good sense of who the man was. His keen sense of business and miraculous performance as Quartermaster General that saved the army at Valley Forge and later at Morristown is nearly as brilliant as his battlefield accomplishments. By Washington?s side in the early part of the war, this young Brigadier who had seen no battle before the war becomes Washington?s most trusted Lieutenant, fighting at Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. He had his failures at Ft. Washington. He even had his disappointing moments when he wrote to hastily and was filled with self-pity. But Greene was faithful to the cause and to his Commander in chief. Golway pulls this together nicely and here is where Greene finally receives justice. As commander of the Southern army, he was known to employ unorthodox as well as orthodox strategy. ?Don?t be surprised if my movements don?t correspond with your Ideas of military propriety. War is an intricate business, and people are often [saved] by ways and means they least look for or expect.? (264) Whether in procuring supplies or separating his forces in the face of Lord Charles Cornwallis, Greene was an undisputed military genius. Golway demonstrates Greene?s determination and bravery, not only on the battlefield, but in his determination to maintain when all seems hopeless. ?We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.?(271) Washington?s Generals: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution is highly recommended for the reader who desires a thorough introduction into the life and command of Nathanael Greene. For the scholar who is looking for detail of campaign correspondence, there are other works available which avail themselves more to that end. But in fairness to Terry Golway, that appears to never have been his intent. He has accomplished what he set out to do; to place before the public in his rightful place of honor the name of Nathanael Greene, hero of the American Revolution. It is a book about a common man who rises to military genius; who placed the cause before himself. It is a story about self-sacrifice, pride (some foolish), and long-suffering and the true cost of freedom. This biography should be read by every serious student of the American Revolution for a better, deeper understanding of the human character that helped create the infant republic as well as to give an appreciation of the adversity through which these patriots suffered and yet still accomplished to the greatest extent what they set out to do with next to nothing but their determination, sweat, blood?and heart.

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