Book Review: 1776

For my entire twenty five years on this planet, I’ve never listened to an audio formatted book. Not on tape; not on CD; not digitally. There has always been a little trepidation for me when it comes to audio books; like going to see a movie based on a great book, I was always afraid I’d listen to an amazing book that I wished I read instead. It all started last week at work: I was schlepping around, bored out of my mind, and disenfranchised with what the world of podcasting has become. No longer could I listen to myriad advertisements for MeUndies, Nature Box, and My favorite podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, and the Ted Radio Hour have either become too inundated with advertisements or cannot release enough content for my insatiable appetite. So, I did it: I signed up for and started to read my first book ever via my ears. It has been amazing, gone are the days of podcasting, as audio books will now consume all my “busy” free time.

David McCullough’s 1776 is an introspective look at one of America’s greatest and darkest years as the author takes us through the minds of some of the most influential people of the time.  From George Washington to his slave “Billy” Lee; McCullough assiduously highlights important events and psyches of key characters that are on the stage for American independence. McCullough doesn’t sugar coat anything as he displays excellent profundity from research and firsthand accounts of what truly happened during the year of 1776.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is that McCullough constantly reminds us that 1776 was actually one Americas most trying and dark years. Although it was the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1776 was truly year of American mistakes and uncertainty. Through firsthand accounts of leaders like George Washington and simple fifers like John Greenwood, we learn that American Revolution was very close to not happening several times. McCullough shows us that it was a year of learning through experience and characters like George Washington were not the demi-gods that American culture  has built them up to be. More than anything, Washington was a calculating man whose primary strength was learning from mistakes like The Battle of Brooklyn. McCullough shows us that like everything, Washington worked hard to garner the abilities he was renowned for later in life and even though he had faults like every man; he was almost blessed by providence and just the right person to help lead America in its time of need. At the begging of 1776, McCullough shows us that the Continental army was comprised of a group rag tag mercenaries and drunkards and by the end of 1776 they were still rag tag and drunk but a formidable group misfits that would help give America its independence.

McCullough litters 1776 with inspirational speeches and firsthand accounts; I literally ran my fastest mile on a treadmill thanks to the motivating words from our founding fathers! If you’re a history nerd like me, 1776 is a “can’t miss” novel that takes you on a fantastic journey through one of the most important years of Americas past.

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