Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It
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Amid a great collection of scholarship and narrative history on the Revolutionary War and the American struggle for independence, there is a gaping hole; one that John Ferling's latest book, Whirlwind, will fill. Books chronicling the Revolution have largely ranged from multivolume tomes that appeal to scholars and the most serious general readers to microhistories that necessarily gloss over swaths of Independence-era history with only cursory treatment.
Written in Ferling's engaging and narrative-driven style that made books like Independence and The Ascent of George Washington critical and commercial successes, Whirlwind is a fast-paced and scrupulously told one-volume history of this epochal time. Balancing social and political concerns of the period and perspectives of the average American revolutionary with a careful examination of the war itself, Ferling has crafted the ideal book for armchair military history buffs, a book about the causes of the American Revolution, the war that won it, and the meaning of the Revolution overall. Combining careful scholarship, arresting detail, and illustrative storytelling, Whirlwind is a unique and compelling addition to any collection of books on the American Revolution.
gatherings, and from 1779 onward his birthday was widely observed. Washington’s image was displayed on coins (some of which had previously depicted the king), his picture appeared here and there in courthouses, and three counties and two towns were named for him. But Congress had not simply responded to others; it was intent on creating a groundswell of support for Washington. At a time when there was no president and no politician of national stature on whom the people could focus their hopes
(London, 2007), 2:354, 405; [Anon.], A Letter to a Member of Parliament on the Unhappy Dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies (1774), ibid., 3:117, 125; David H. Murdoch, ed., Rebellion in America: A Contemporary British Viewpoint, 1765–1783 (Santa Barbara, Calif., 1979), 129–30; Benjamin L. Carp, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (New Haven, Conn., 2010), 185–87. 2. The text of Wedderburn’s attack on Franklin can be found in PBF 21:43–68. See also
preparation of this document, which in many ways foreshadowed the Declaration of Independence. It listed a dozen “Infringements & Violations of Rights” committed by the mother country, including parliamentary taxation, the use of writs of assistance, maintaining a standing army in peacetime, enhancing the jurisdiction of vice-admiralty courts, multiple violations of the colony’s charter, and restraints on manufacturing. Adams sketched the colonists’ “Natural Rights … as Men,” among which “are
closest to expressing the outlook of most Americans—more so than the steps taken by the compromise-driven Congress—was authored by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson penned his essay in the summer of 1774 to instruct Virginia’s delegation to the Continental Congress, taking the trouble in large measure because he badly wished to be included among the delegates. Illness prevented him from attending the Virginia Convention that selected the congressmen, and Jefferson was not included in the delegation.
carrying them into slavery.” Expunging that momentous passage would have a telling impact on the course of American history and the lives of millions who would have to live as slaves within the United States.50 Once the editing was complete, Congress on July 4 voted to accept the emended document. At last, independence had been declared. John Adams was surprised by the “Suddenness … of this Revolution,” but Samuel Adams feared that much “has been lost” by waiting fifteen months after hostilities