Book Review: The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara

Author: Jeff Shaara
TitleThe Glorious Cause 
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Publication Info: Books on Tape, 2003

Turns out that wasn’t the book I intended to read. That’s okay, because this is an entertaining historical novel about the American War for Independence. Or is it a novelistic history? Because it really reads like a history book.  But a history book with an unusual knowledge of the thoughts and private conversations of its protagonists.  Because there’s a lot here that would never be known from the historical record and is at best educated supposition. Nevertheless it provides an interesting perspective where people are the heart of the narrative rather than a string of battles and military strategies.

The four point-of-view characters in this book are George Washington, Nathaniel Green, Lord Cornwallis, and Benjamin Franklin.  Each of these men is presented as brilliant and noble in their own way.  Their rivals are depicted much less well.  For Washington and Greene that includes Charles Lee, Horatio Gates, and members of Congress, while Cornwallis has to deal with Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne.  Meanwhile, Franklin faces off against the intrigues of the French court.

As I said, it’s entertaining as a novel and historically sound, and worth a read for a different take on the Revolution.

Recommended books1776 by David McCullough, A Few Bloody Noses: The Realities and Mythologies of the American Revolution by Robert Harvey, The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood and Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America by Jack Rakove
Rating: ***

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