Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: Band of Giants by Jack Kelly

Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's IndependenceBand of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence by Jack Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

The soldiers of the Continental Army were not professionals when the American Revolution began in 1775, neither were their commanding officers.  But as Jack Kelly writings in his book “Band of Giants”, these amateur soldiers took on and defeated the greatest army in the world to win independence for their nation.

Kelly’s chronicle of the Revolutionary generation’s military journey starts in 1754 following an inexperienced George Washington as he ignites the French and Indian War and the military lessons he learned.  As each significant leader is introduced within the narrative, Kelly gives the reader insight into their previous military experience or lack thereof.  As the war goes on, Kelly explains how the commanders learned through failure and success that eventually resulted in the victorious siege of Yorktown.

The best part of this book is that Kelly just doesn't follow Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Horatio Gates, and Benedict Arnold who always seem to be at the fore of Revolutionary history.  The lives and careers of Henry Knox, Nathaniel Greene, ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne, Daniel Morgan, John Stark, Charles Lee, and many others are given their just do in the relating of events during the war.

Yet there were sections of the book that seemed that Kelly let stray from the overall thrust of the book.  Kelly introduced the wives and family of many of the men he follows in the book; overall this is not a bad thing since at times family situations did interfere with a commander’s duties.  However at times, the details Kelly relates while interesting little facts were just that and nothing more in the overall context of the book.  Another glaring error was Kelly shifting from chronicling the course of events and why the individual made the decisions he made, only to then suddenly armchair quarterback the decision before continuing on the narrative.  These moments were few and far between, but left the reader scratching their head.

Overall “Band of Giants” is a very readable, researched, general history of the American Revolution and the commanding officers of the Continental Army.  Although author Jack Kelly does stray briefly into unrelated details and on a couple of occasions interjects his opinion, those errors cannot take away from a well written book that introduces the reader to a better understanding of the history of the American Revolution.

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