The Revolutionary War by Bart McDowell - Book Review

Published: 2021-06-22
1560 words
6 pages
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Sewanee University of the South
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Book review
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Bart McDowells The Revolutionary War gives an amazing account of the history and events of this glorious time. The view is quite diversified than most history books. The author, Bart McDowell, gives the reader a teaching in the numerous battles and people, which make up the Revolutionary War in his family tours with his kids. He began a journey with his family, showing his kids all about the events of the Revolutionary War. They toured many of the scenes of battles all over the East Beach while reading original accounts of the events to his children. McDowell personalizes the story lesson for the reader by adding remarks his children made, or associations in the weather when they toured to what the weather was on the exact day of the event. McDowell starts by giving some history from 1755. His family frequently crossed Braddock Road, named after Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock. This way was the path he had taken on his springtime journey in 1755. General Braddock was killed on July 9, 1755, by the Indian and their French allies. Before crossing, he said, We shall better know how to deal with them another time (p. 14). George Washington was only 23 when he followed Braddocks staff, and this was his first big battle. Notably, due to his distinguished military service, Washington was later chosen to the House of Burgesses, the minor house of Virginias assembly. In the first chapter, McDowell introduces the reader to several characters and names that have become famous throughout history (McDowell, 1967).

First, we are introduced to Daniel Morgan, Benedict Arnold, and George III. The various contributions that George the III endeavored are covered here. The Stamp and The Sugar Act of 1765, which caused lots of animosity and resentment toward the British, were two of them. In response to the Stamp Act, the Burgesses established that Virginia should find the first official solution to the Stamp Act. Patrick Henry became the revolutionary leader in Virginia. Samuel Adams spent his time on township politics in Boston. In September, Samuel Adams was appointed to the Massachusetts legislature. From Georgia to New England citizens boycotted the stamps. The Stamp Act was abolished in early 1766. In 1767 Parliament enacted the infamous Townshend Act, which rearranged the customs service and taxed new charges on daily items such as lead, paint, glass, tea, and paper. The Boston Killing was to follow. Bostonian's masked as Mohawk Indians, mounted the ships, destroyed the containers of tea, and emptied them into the Sea. George Washington was a representative to the First Continental Congress, and he had set off for Philadelphia (McDowell, 1967).

McDowell then touches on what was occurring on Christmas Day in 1774 and what will arise. He proceeds into a quite a bit of detail with views to Paul Revere and his popular ride. He and William Dawes, a colleague messenger, made their way to Lexington and was accompanied by Dr. Samuel Prescott on the route to Concord. According to Reveres account, In an instant, I saw four officers who came to me with their pistols in their hands and said, . . . Stop! If you go an inch further, you are a dead man! and Revere was taken hostage; Dawes, tossed from his horse, flew on foot through the woods. But Dr. Prescott, who knew this land even in the darkness, skipped his horse over a stone wall and reached Concord with the news (p. 38).The Continental Congress, in 1776 was given Thomas Jeffersons draft of the Declaration of Independence. On July 2, the resolution of independence enacted. The signatures were not disclosed to the public for quite some time. This was new news to me (McDowell, 1983).

The reader learns about Benedict Arnold at different stages of the battle, with Fort Ticonderoga and later at West Point where he was found to be a traitor. Bunker Hill, the Battle for New Jersey and New York are all mentioned in the book. The reader learns of Benjamin Franklins diplomatic struggle in France and England. The efforts that George Washington and his governing officers had of clothing and feeding their enlisted, as well as the brilliance with which the army was operated. Not all of the fights were American victories. It was quite the contrary. It was not until the French came to Americas help that the battle shifted for the Colonials. One of Washingtons commanding deputies asserted that they had won the war without overcoming a single battle. A bit ironic (McDowell, 1967).

I found it fascinating how General Cornwallis commanded the defeat in the last grand battle of the Revolutionary War. He fabricated sick and sent one of his officers to turn over his sword and move out with the rest of the British officers. One of the most inspiring stories in this book was the telling of George Washingtons gathering with all of his officers after the battle. After delivering a speech to all of his people, Washington met with all of his officers to say goodbye at Fraunces Tavern. He said, With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your following days may be as happy and prosperous as your former ones have been honorable and glorious. . . I shall feel compelled if each of you will come and take me by the hand. McDowell explains in details about many skirmishes and battles and allows the reader to get a feeling of what happened. This book reveals the entire war in a manner that each step of the fight is more interesting and understandable. I found that it was simpler to commit to memory as well (McDowell, 1967).

The character of the men and women involved in this struggle for liberty and independence is amazingly moving and powerful for me. Through McDowells teachings, I now understand the magnitude of their sacrifice. I fully enjoyed reading this book and would suggest it to anyone looking for a comprehensive understanding of this countrys history and the actions that brought us where we are. This book is a well-written summary of the war, presented in a sequential fashion. What makes it so appealing to me is that it is described as an unfolding adventure by the McDowell family through vacations to the places on which the battle took place. The author does his best to even tour the sites at the appropriate time of year relative to the episodes of the Revolutionary War that happen on the same grounds. The places he toured have changed a bit, and the recorded photos of the family with father in tie and suit, may appear a bit unclear to some. It takes a lot of effort to turn seemingly real discussions into learning opportunities for both the reader and the authors children. The novel is amazingly entertaining. It is easy to ignore the key reasons why the book can still be found in libraries across the country and also on a lot of online bookselling websites. There is real material here. It highlights an interesting and insightful story that reveals complex situations in laymens terms. It includes an amazing description of the best artwork portraying the war. This book also communicates a profound appreciation for historic sites that manages to give them meaning and life some four decades after being starred in the book. Modern readers looking for a good summary of the Revolutionary War will certainly look elsewhere, but if you are exploring such a book, you could do a whole lot worse than this volume.

I like this book, even though it is very dated. The script is clear, with just a touch of an exciting storytelling. Add to that McDowell's constant references to the views and remarks of his family as they go on this Revolutionary Road journey. I liked it, but some people may see it as self-indulgent. There is nothing new or unusual about this history, but it is a good place to begin if you are interested in the Revolution. Also, the National Geographic photos make the reading of this book more interesting. Part civil war, part rebellion, part world conflict, The American Revolution - more than seven years of war and anguish - gave birth to a country and control to people. This book will take you beyond the land of the colonials to relive their triumphs and downfalls. You will meet the villains and the heroes of America's fight for freedom - Thomas Jefferson, King George III, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold, Bloody Tarleton, and George Washington. Almost 200 photographs and paintings, more than a dozen maps and battle pictures join to help make this book memorable and exciting (McDowell,1983).

My parents gave me a copy of this book when I was ten, and it took me just over one year to read it cover to cover, though as a child I liked the beautiful pictures depicting different events during the war. As an adult, this is a refresher to the basic events of the war. The author primarily takes the reader along on his family excursions to the key periods of the war. Growing up I took this kind of trips with my family; this leaves me wondering what author's kids thought of the obsessive trips and just how many of these areas are still as they are written in the book.


McDowell, B. (1967). The Revolutionary War: America's fight for freedom. Washington: National Geographic Society.

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