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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Ferling’s own words, Whirlwind differs from other histories of the American Revolution in emphasizing the causal role of economic factors (along with rage against Britain and a desire for a freer world), its position that Americans were happy with the imperial relationship until the 1760s, it focus on the war rather than the political rebellion, the attention it pays to what was happening in England, and by beginning in the 1760s and ending with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Ferling is also very critical of British handling of the colonies and their prosecution of the war, and he is relatively critical of Washington, especially as a military leader.
The focus on what was happening in England is particularly notable. Unfortunately, much of that attention tails off after war breaks out and from then on we mostly just hear about the generals on American soil. Ferling needs the space, though, because he also hits on the experiences of black Americans, women, the...
I very much enjoyed Whirlwind. This single volume narrative history of the most significant event in American history is nearly on par with James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, the definitive single volume history of the Civil War, in my opinion. My knowledge of the specifics of the American Revolution and the War wasn't nearly as comprehensive as my knowledge of other aspects of American history. Professor Ferling's work is an excellent, and at times quite detailed, overview of the political, military, socioeconomic, and cultural aspects of the Revolution. Although I live right in the heart of New Jersey where many of the major and minor actions of the War occurred, I did not realize the full extent and intensity of the conflict here in the Crossroads of the Revolution. I have subsequently become more active in learning more about the military activities of both sides here in NJ during the War. I had noticed while watching the AMC series Turn that so many of the locales...
Great book on the politics and battles of the American Revolution. I have read other books on this subject and this is the only one that I remember spending time on the all important battles that took place in the South. This is one of those non-fiction books that reads like fiction. The book covers all the major battles and players in the American Revolution. I wish that Mr. Ferling had added maps to the book to help draw a clearer picture of where the battles took place and why the locations were significant.
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