John Adams and 1776 by David McCullough

john adams book cover  1776 book cover

Recommended by Doug Braudaway

 

David McCullough is one of the few historians/history writers who is famous. I’m serious; most history writers have narrow audiences, often of other history writers, and few people from the general public will know their names or their works. McCullough is an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, McCullough is as scholarly as scholarly gets, but in these works he brings his thoroughly scholarly history to the general public. Both books have dozens of pages of endnotes and bibliography, but McCullough brings so much life and color to his narratives.

John Adams’ accomplishments have been forgotten in the glare of the other Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But make no mistake, Adams was at the center of America’s independence. Adams
   -seconded Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence;
   -led the fight to increase soldier pay, without which, the American army would have vaporized;
   -recommended Jefferson write the Declaration; and on July 2
   -won over enough Continental Congress delegate holdouts to give a unanimous Declaration of Independence.

The year of 1776 must have been terrifying to the Americans. The biggest, baddest military in the world was on its way loaded for bear. And they don’t fight fair. For example,
   -Rape was a common enough practice. “The enemy’s ravages in New Jersey exceed all description….Many hundred women ravished” including elderly and pregnant;
   -Theft was even more so, the first day the Hessian troops were in America, “All the plantations in the vicinity were plundered”
British army crime was so bad that even American Loyalists complained that the British cause was being undermined.

Both of these works are well worth the read.