I found this section of “1776" was really suspenseful, much more than the last two sections. Everything seemed so rushed by both sides. General Washington’s rush to fortify New York's defenses against the impending British invasion; and Britain's rush to reestablish a “foothold” in the colonies created what felt like a race. And the suspense was heightened by the writing of David McCullough. McCullough made the reader wait and read the details of the landscape and all the thoughts “swimming” around in Washington’s head, not only to give them a vivid picture of what was happening but also to make the reader get anxious about the eventual battle. Even though this happened two hundred-forty years ago I do not know if the colonists won this battle so it is especially suspenseful for me.
Describing Washington’s thoughts and second thoughts allows the reader to feel his concern and develop his character in their eyes. General Washington’s biggest worry was his choice “to violate one of the oldest, most fundamental rules of battle, never to divide your strength when faced by a superior force”(152). He had to do this to defend Long Island and Brooklyn. Showing George Washington as just a man with concerns, doubts, and lacking all the answers makes him feel soo much more human and real compared to most “after-the-fact” historical accounts. George Washington being a founding father our American society likes to make him seem invincible and that there was never a doubt of an american victory. But McCullough is establishing a human connection between Washington and he reader especially though my American roots.
McCullough provides hand drawn maps, from the time, that serve to provide clarity about the battle field and they do help. I find myself occasionally flipping back to view them to help me understand the movements being described.
This section of the book really appeals to me mainly because I am from New York. Though I was not from the city, New York city is much different than it was in 1776. I was from a farming town in upstate New York called Bainbridge. Bainbridge is very much similar to what is described as New York city in 1776. And my mother is from Long Island which as of right now in the book is under siege by the British. It is amazing to think that two hundred-forty years ago there was a fierce battle for freedom going on potentially where my mother’s old house was. The events just seem so much closer now. I have never seen Boston and have no family there but my roots are deep in New York.