Valley Forge: Book summary and reviews of Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Valley Forge

by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin X
Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
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Book Summary

One of the most inspiring - and underappreciated - chapters in American history: the story of the Continental Army's six-month transformation in Valley Forge.

December 1777. It is 18 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and some 12,000 members of America's beleaguered Continental Army stagger into a small Pennsylvania encampment 23 miles northwest of British-occupied Philadelphia. The starving and half-naked force is reeling from a string of demoralizing defeats at the hands of King George III's army, and are barely equipped to survive the coming winter. Their commander in chief, the focused and forceful George Washington, is at the lowest ebb of his military career. The Continental Congress is in exile and the American Revolution appears to be lost.

Yet a spark remains. Determined to keep the rebel cause alive through sheer force of will, Washington transforms the farmland plateau hard by the Schuylkill River into a virtual cabin city. Together with a dedicated coterie of advisers both foreign and domestic - Marquis de Lafayette, Baron von Steuben, the impossibly young Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurens - he sets out to breathe new life into his military force. Against all odds, as the frigid and miserable months pass, they manage to turn a bobtail army of citizen soldiers into a professional fighting force that will change the world forever.

Valley Forge is the story of how that metamorphosis occurred. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the team behind such bestsellers as The Heart of Everything That Is, The Last Stand of Fox Company, and Halsey's Typhoon, show us how this miracle was accomplished despite thousands of American soldiers succumbing to disease, starvation, and the elements. Here is Steuben, throwing himself into the dedicated drilling sessions he imported from Prussian battlefields. Here is Hamilton, proffering the shrewd advice that wards off his beloved commander in chief's scheming political rivals. Here is Laurens, determined to integrate the Continental Army with freed black men and slaves. Here is Lafayette, thirsting for battlefield accolades while tenaciously lobbying his own king for crucial French aid.

At the center of it all is George Washington, in the prime of his life yet confronting crushing failure as he fends off political conspiracies every bit as pernicious as his incessant military challenges. The Virginia planter-turned-general is viewed by many as unqualified to lead the Continental Army after the humiliating loss of Philadelphia, and his detractors in and out of Congress plot to replace him. The Valley Forge winter is his - and the revolution's - last chance at redemption. And, indeed, after six months in the camp, Washington fulfills his destiny, leading the Continental Army to a stunning victory in the Battle of Monmouth Court House. The momentum is never again with the Redcoats.

Valley Forge is the riveting true story of a nascent United States toppling an empire. Using new and rarely seen contemporaneous documents - and drawing on a cast of iconic characters and remarkable moments that capture the innovation and energy that led to the birth of our nation - Drury and Clavin provide the definitive account of this seminal and previously undervalued moment in the battle for American independence.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. As the authors sketch out the dizzying array of obstacles Washington faced, the reader gains an appreciation for the genuinely heroic role he played in the founding of the United States of America." - Publishers Weekly

"A fluent, readable story that corrects mythmaking errors and provides a more nuanced narrative in their place." - Kirkus

"Valley Forge was the existential moment in the war for independence, when the direction of American history hung in the balance. Drury and Clavin have now given us the fullest and most readable account of that dramatic story." - Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of Founding Brothers and American Dialogue: The Founders and Us

"General George Washington leaves behind his dusty schoolbook caricature and leaps into full, vivid life as both a world-changing titan and a complex man of uncommon will and grace. Forget your starched notions of Valley Forge and plunge into this, the true story of grit, courage, and innovation that was a fulcrum moment in the founding of our great nation." - Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, New York Times bestselling authors of Indianapolis

This information about Valley Forge was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Bob Drury is the author/coauthor/editor of nine books. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Men's Journal, and GQ. He is currently a contributing editor and foreign correspondent for Men's Health. He lives in Manasquan, New Jersey.

Tom Clavin is the author or coauthor of sixteen books. For fifteen years he wrote for The New York Times and has contributed to such magazines as Golf, Men's Journal, Parade, Reader's Digest, and Smithsonian. He is currently the investigative features correspondent for Manhattan Magazine. He lives in Sag Harbor, New York.

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