Today I want to share my favorite book about America, George Washington’s War: The Saga of the American Revolution, and while it was published 20 years ago, it is as moving today as it was when I first read it in 2000.
I was living in Dallas, working as a sports copy editor for the Dallas Morning News. I went to see The Patriot (I miss Heath Ledger) and afterward was thirsting for more about the American Revolution. I found George Washington’s War by Robert Leckie, and once I started reading, I could not stop. I sat in my garage reading, I read on my breaks at work, during dinner, while waiting for the press to run, at the hair salon, while riding in the car. I used a Hershey bar wrapper as a bookmark.
Unlike other books about the birth of the United States, this was fabulous. Not boring. Not dry. Not sleep-inducing. It was interesting, easy to read, and offered meaty biographical details on the main players in the war. This is no history book – it is much juicier. George and Martha (I didn’t know that the “father of our country” had no biological children with Martha), Thomas Paine, John Adams, Benedict Arnold (traitor, but … ), Patrick Henry, Sam Adams (thanks for the beer!), Paul Revere … it’s all here.
The amount of research that went into this is incredible. I learned more about the events that led up to our independence from Britain in these 688 pages than I learned in years of school. The maps showed me where our freedom grew and blossomed, fed by the sacrifices of farmers, merchants, blacksmiths, doctors, cooks, men and women who faced their fears in order to form a more perfect union.
Thinking about the courage and conviction these first Americans displayed overwhelms me. The odds they faced were unbelievable. Yet, here I am, in my little Southern neighborhood, typing away on the internet, free to speak my mind and write down my thoughts, hit publish and share them with the rest of the country, even the world.
So while you’re enjoying your baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie, remember why we’re lighting sparklers and firecrackers. And maybe sing a little of the Star-Spangled Banner, watch 1776, and pick up George Washington’s War.
What are your favorite things about America? Mine are blue jeans, Coca-Cola, college football, and rock ’n’ roll.