Band of Giants brings to life the founders who fought for our independence in the Revolutionary War. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin are known to all; men like Morgan, Greene, and Wayne are less familiar. Yet the dreams of the politicians and theorists only became real because fighting men were willing to take on the grim, risky, brutal work of war. We know Fort Knox, but what about Henry Knox, the burly Boston bookseller who took over the American artillery at the age of 25? Eighteen counties in the United States commemorate Richard Montgomery, but do we know that this revered martyr launched a full-scale invasion of Canada? The soldiers of the American Revolution were a diverse lot: merchants and mechanics, farmers and fishermen, paragons and drunkards. Most were ardent amateurs. Even George Washington, assigned to take over the army around Boston in 1775, consulted books on military tactics. Here, Jack Kelly vividly captures the fraught condition of the war—the bitterly divided populace, the lack of supplies, the repeated setbacks on the battlefield, and the appalling physical hardships. That these inexperienced warriors could take on and defeat the superpower of the day was one of the remarkable feats in world history.
George Washington, Henry Knox, Nathanael Greene, and Anthony Wayne are names written indelibly into the history of the American Revolution, yet they all started out green, working their way into legend by learning and adapting on the battlefield. Journalist Kelly (Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics) opens this fast-paced military history in 1754 as the young Lt. Col. Washington, devoid of formal military training, prepares to confront the French over control of North America's Western frontier. Following his account French and Indian War, Kelly's fast-forwards to the volatile years of the 1770s when businessman Greene and bookseller Knox meet in Boston to discuss the colony's rapidly deteriorating relationship with England. By early 1775, both men had taken up arms against the mother country. Knox would develop a genius for artillery and Greene would go on to command the Southern campaign. Kelly smoothly recounts the major and most familiar battles of the war, from Lexington and Concord to the incursions into Canada to Brandywine to Charleston. Kelly is stingy with attendant political and foreign-policy matters hewing closely to all things military and there are no fresh insights into either here, but the writing is lively, and he offers a serious reminder of the brutality of the American Revolution. Illus.