Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer, Oxford University Press, 2004.
This book takes us from Boston in March of 1776 to Princeton in January 1777. I found it detailed, yet interesting. The struggle to form and keep an army fighting against the best army in the world at that time is the overriding theme of the book. And of course at the center of that enterprise is George Washington.
Washington was truly the indispensable man, without whom the United States wouldn’t be what it is today. He isn’t portrayed as perfect, as many mistakes were made in trying to keep New York City. The thing is that Washington learned from his mistakes and also learned who to trust for advice and information.
The details of battles, troop movements, skirmishes, and conditions are worth reading fully. While reading I was trying to understand what Washington and his troops went through. I doubt any modern man could survive such misery. Read all the small details.
What I really took away from this book is what America is all about vs the “old” country. Washington was successful because he ran a de-centralized army with input from lowly privates to generals. He took this input and with his men arrived at a consensus about how to approach and overcome obstacles in their path. The British on the other hand ran a top down organization and missed out on important information because lower level troops weren’t asked for input.
I believe that is what has made America great. We haven’t been a top down society. Successful people trusted in and respected others and with individual initiative built great things. Top down rarely beats groups working together and sharing risks and rewards.