Sunday, November 25, 2012

1776: The Illustrated Edition

I always enjoyed learning about the Revolutionary War.  The bravery of the American rebels was admirable to me, even as a little kid.  I never tired of the stories of Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, and the important battles.  Men of incredible intellect such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams impressed me because of their brilliant writings and inspired philosophy.  Men of action, those leaders and infantrymen in the Continental Army who far and away exceeded expectations, and General George Washington, in particular, had story after story worth telling.  I was also probably influenced by epic artwork such as Arnold Friberg's The Prayer at Valley Forge, which portrayed the deep faith that many of our Founding Fathers displayed and was worthy emulating.

Book cover.In 1776: The Illustrated Edition (ISBN: 978-1-4165-4210-0) by David McCullough, the award-winning writer and historian added a little bit of a twist to his seminal 1776: paintings, maps, copies of original documents, and other visual aids that help bring the drama America's first year as an independent nation to life.  The book chronicles the activities of the colonists and the British throughout the year.  Since the Revolutionary War lasted another six years, there is actually not a whole lot of Revolutionary War coverage in the book, but the set-up is there, and the key battles of the year, such as Washington's crossing of the Delaware to defeat formidable and intimidating Hessian forces, are there in great detail.  McCullough explains the significance of the actions of Congress, Parliament, and the two belligerent armies.  As the year comes to a close, the stage is set for the next few years of war, but one could easily predict the eventual outcome given the improbable patriot successes and the momentum they, regarded as simple "rabble" by the elite British forces, had gained in such a short time.

The book was an enjoyable read, and its coffee table-style format was neat.  Every twenty pages or so, there was a sleeve with reproductions of letters, documents, and maps.  Almost every page had an illustration, painting, or other visual.  It did help bring it alive.  The illustrated edition, of course, does not contain all of the text of McCullough's original work, but there is enough to follow the stories, get details, and be amazed and inspired.  In the end, the book served as a very visual reminder of how amazing and miraculous the foundation of America was.  We are sometimes not as appreciative of what the Founding Fathers sacrificed everything for as we should be, and it's always good to be reminded.  It's even better to not just express our gratitude, but to do something about it.  Like those who sacrificed so much during 1776, our liberties are also not free.

Creative Commons License
This work, including all text, photographs, and other original work, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License and is copyrighted © MMXI John Pruess.

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