Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis has been sitting at my bedside for weeks now. I still cling to the illusion that a large gap of time will spring forth and present an opportunity to dig into this book. Until that fateful day, this short interview with Ellis is will do. Ellis is, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent writers of the American Revolution. He’s got an impressive backlog and for good reason. The man can tell a compelling story. You can get a sense of this as he discusses Washington and the New York campaign:
I you accuse me of posting this video in an attempt to grab an ounce of respectability after my Sons of Liberty review I won’t deny it. Enjoy!
Wow, what a gem you’ve found! Thanks for sharing! A couple comments: 1. Much as I like Ellis, I like McCullough even more. 2. I think Ellis mispronounced “archipelago.” 3. One has to remember defending New York City was a highly political American requirement that could not be easily abandoned. 4. The psychological impact of Bunker Hill on General Howe was immense — he wasn’t up to again bravely losing “horrendous” numbers of men; indeed, he worried he wasn’t ever again going to get many replacements. 5. I agree with Ellis, Howe was going to cower Washington into surrendering after giving him a couple nasty whuppin’s. And, as Washington admitted, as evidenced in the escape from Long Island, it was “little short of a standing miracle” that we survived and won. 6. Interesting that Ellis here gives the impression that Washington was superior strategically to all the other great generals mentioned, saying, OTOH, that they were tactically superior to Washington. Usually the argument is that Washington is a tactical not a strategic general. However, I agree with General Dave Palmer, Rev War author and former superintendent of West Point, that Washington was both a strategic and tactical genius! So, thanks to Joseph Ellis here for helping me to make my point. That all said, thanks again for a great post!
Great points Bill!
Also I think it is important to consider how Washington learned from his mistakes and was flexible enough to adjust. That is in its essence is what made him a genius. I think the most important lesson he learned from New York was not tactical or even strategic but Political. Washington would maneuver in the political landscape like no other from that point forward.
As for Ellis vs McCullough, I love them both. As a generalization, I would say Ellis may write a bit more eloquently, but McCullough is a master story teller and that makes him stand out above the others.
Thanks, Peter. BTW, if you hadn’t mentioned it elsewhere for those interested, I wanted to mention that, although just now for some reason I’m seeing Emanuel Luetze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” your usual thematic painting is of Washington and his officers watching weary soldiers of the Revolutionary army trudging toward Valley Forge in William Trego’s “The March to Valley Forge.” Looks like tomorrow will be sending my Chicagoland area into a small taste of Valley Forge for the Super Bowl game. Don’t know if it’s patriotic or not to root for the New England Patriots, but I hope the results aren’t deflating! 🙂 😦 🙂 At any rate, to rework Ellis’ comment, may the best team not lose! Stay warm! Thanks again!