NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Nathaniel Philbrick is a masterly storyteller. Here he seeks to elevate the naval battles between the French and British to a central place in the history of the American Revolution. He succeeds, marvelously."--The New York Times Book Review
The thrilling story of the year that won the Revolutionary War from the New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea and Valiant Ambition.
In the fall of 1780, after five frustrating years of war, George Washington had come to realize that the only way to defeat the British Empire was with the help of the French navy. But as he had learned after two years of trying, coordinating his army's movements with those of a fleet of warships based thousands of miles away was next to impossible. And then, on September 5, 1781, the impossible happened. Recognized today as one of the most important naval engagements in the history of the world, the Battle of the Chesapeake--fought without a single American ship--made the subsequent victory of the Americans at Yorktown a virtual inevitability.
In a narrative that moves from Washington's headquarters on the Hudson River, to the wooded hillside in North Carolina where Nathanael Greene fought Lord Cornwallis to a vicious draw, to Lafayette's brilliant series of maneuvers across Tidewater Virginia, Philbrick details the epic and suspenseful year through to its triumphant conclusion. A riveting and wide-ranging story, full of dramatic, unexpected turns, In the Hurricane's Eye reveals that the fate of the American Revolution depended, in the end, on Washington and the sea.
Philbrick follows up his previous popular history illuminating lesser-known aspects of the Revolutionary War (Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution) with another insightful and accessible account of its by-no-means-inevitable success. Instead, he argues, drawing extensively on primary sources, the "bitter truth was that by the summer of 1781 the American Revolution had failed." The Revolutionary Army was underfunded by the 13 states, whose posture of limited support was not challenged effectively by the Continental Congress. That contributed to thousands of "able-bodied citizens refusing to serve," leaving the army understaffed and the fate of the colonies dependent on the French military. Philbrick's narrative builds toward a dramatic recreation of what he deems "the most important naval engagement in the history of the world," the Battle of the Chesapeake. In that undeservedly obscure encounter, French ships under the command of Adm. Fran ois de Grasse defeated a British fleet, which made Washington's victory at Yorktown a "fait accompli." Philbrick depicts Washington warts and all, including his responsibility for the rift with Alexander Hamilton and his slave ownership, highlighting the disconnect between the ideals of the revolution and its leaders' enslavement of kidnapped Africans. This thought-provoking history will deepen readers' understanding of how the U.S. achieved its independence.