Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat

Joseph Ellis likes David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing:

David Hackett Fischer’s new book, ”Washington’s Crossing,” is a highly realistic and wonderfully readable narrative of the same moment that corrects all the inaccuracies in the [Emmanuel] Leutze painting but preserves the overarching sense of drama.

The centerpiece of Fischer’s story is the daring attack across the Delaware by 2,400 soldiers in the Continental Army, who routed the Hessian garrison at Trenton, then fought two additional battles at Trenton and Princeton the following week. Though the sizes of the armies were small compared with the numbers that fought at later battles like Gettysburg or Normandy, Fischer argues convincingly that the actions at Trenton and Princeton were the most consequential in American history, for these stunning victories rescued the American cause from what appeared to be certain defeat and thereby transformed the improbability of American independence into a distinct possibility, eventually an inevitability….

For reasons beyond my comprehension, there has never been a great film about the War of Independence. The Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam have all been captured memorably, but the American Revolution seems to resist cinematic treatment. More than any other book, ”Washington’s Crossing” provides the opportunity to correct this strange oversight, for in a confined chronological space we have the makings of both ”Patton” and ”Saving Private Ryan,” starring none other than George Washington. Fischer has provided the script. And it’s all true.

Read the entire review.