Murphy brings the winter of 1776 to life with powerful prose and captivating illustrations. After devastating defeats in and around New York City, the Continental Army was disintegrating and the British were perilously close to snuffing out the American Revolution. Washington saved the Army, the Revolution and his command with his daring surprise attack on Trenton, quickly followed by victory at the Battle of Princeton. The author takes pains to discuss Emanuel Leutze'sÂ Washington Crossing the Delaware, noting that the point of the iconic painting is its symbolism rather than historical accuracy. Given this care, it is regrettable that the author does not specifically debunk the widely told story that the Hessians were easily defeated because they were hungover, though his account by no means supports it, instead portraying the Hessians as well-organized and professional. Too, it's a shame there's no mention of the pre-attack, morale-boosting reading of Thomas Paine's "These are the times...." Despite these small shortcomings, this is a superbly written, well-researched and attractively illustrated account that may well launch researchers on further exploration. (chronology, Revolutionary War sites directory, source notes, index)Â (Nonfiction. 9-12)
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Murphy (Truce) again digs into the well of history, this time emerging with a well-researched, absorbing account of the early battles of the Revolutionary War with Gen. George Washington at their center. Enhanced by numerous sepia maps of troop movements, prints, paintings, and portraits of prominent figures, the blow-by-blow narrative begins with the shots fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775 and continues until the tide-turning battles at Trenton and Princeton in early 1777. Plentiful description ("the sky darkened ominously, and an icy drizzle began to fall") paints a clear picture of the hardships a beleaguered, dwindling Continental Army and its commander faced. Washington, who "had to shape untrained farmers and shopkeepers into skilled soldiers and then defeat the greatest military power in the world," persevered despite self-doubt, defeats, and even calls for his ouster. Murphy succeeds in conveying the key role Washington played in the formation of a United States, when its existence rested on his ragtag army of militias and citizen soldiers. Included are a time line, source list, index, and a list of Revolutionary War sites readers can visit. Ages 9-12. (Dec.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-9--Murphy lays out the stakes in this well-known story immediately: the fate of the revolution and the country itself rested with the man chosen to lead the Continental Army. He centers the story on Washington, arguing that the early battles in and around New York and New Jersey transformed him from an inexperienced if well-respected military leader into a formidable commander and strategist. Whereas purely chronological histories drag readers' attention from one theater of war to another, Murphy concentrates on the troops directly under Washington's command in the events leading up to the battles of Trenton and Princeton, so that each step or misstep is as riveting as if readers were following at the heels of "the old fox." When the tide turns in the Patriots' favor, it is with a sense of relief rather than as a fait accompli. Illustrations include reproductions of portraits and several good, clear maps showing battlefields and troop movements. An especially effective spread of Washington Crossing the Delaware is followed by an analysis of the artist's theme of America's diverse people fighting for freedom against all odds. The time line and index are thorough, and the list of websites is comprehensive. Notes and sources, instead of listed chapter by chapter, are listed "in order of importance." A first purchase, even if your American Revolution shelves are packed.--Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM[Page 140]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.