In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown

In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown

The thrilling story of the Revolutionary War finale from the New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea and Valiant Ambition.Here is the story of the remarkable year leading up to the siege of Yorktown. It sets Washington against his traitorous nemesis Benedict Arnold and places him in impossible situations and constant acrimonious negotiation with his Fr...

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Title:In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown
Author:Nathaniel Philbrick
Rating:
Edition Language:English

In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown Reviews

  • Craig Pearson

    Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It is much more interesting to a historian to read about a specific event in a larger period such as the Battle of Yorktown during the American Revolution. The detailed behaviors and relationships of the main characters are developed to a greater extent than would be in a general volume. I have always had an admiration for the loser at Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis. I still believe he was a good commander but Philbrick shows hi

    Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It is much more interesting to a historian to read about a specific event in a larger period such as the Battle of Yorktown during the American Revolution. The detailed behaviors and relationships of the main characters are developed to a greater extent than would be in a general volume. I have always had an admiration for the loser at Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis. I still believe he was a good commander but Philbrick shows his poor decision making to be critical to the eventual loss of the war by the British. The maps are concise but not too detailed to be confusing. This book is highly readable as summer reading and for historical research.

  • Rick

    Full disclosure: I received this book as an ARC. Here is my take.

    “In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown” by Nathaniel Philbrick was very entertaining. When writing on a subject with such scope - an author can write broadly on the subject with little depth, or narrowly with great depth – this tale is written narrowly on a single period of battle – essentially the last year of the revolutionary War – but with great depth to give us the whole story. I

    Full disclosure: I received this book as an ARC. Here is my take.

    “In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown” by Nathaniel Philbrick was very entertaining. When writing on a subject with such scope - an author can write broadly on the subject with little depth, or narrowly with great depth – this tale is written narrowly on a single period of battle – essentially the last year of the revolutionary War – but with great depth to give us the whole story. I thought it was near masterful. Philbrick – who seemingly publishes a book every six months or so – chooses to write on interesting yet little-known or superficially-known subjects, and then tells us about that subject with great depth. I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure. For the narrative itself I give it 4 stars … but added the fifth for a couple of reasons.

    Many seafaring tales of the tall-ships days display all the nautical terms but fail to give the reader a grounding in the terminology – Philbrick avoids this mistake by at least mentioning the first time used what each term refers to – without weighing us down in minutia. For example, while those familiar with sailing terms will immediately recognize port and starboard, Philbrick puts the reader at ease with the simple mention of left and right. The second stylistic note worth mention was the maps. Often authors fail to give adequate maps forcing the reader to disengage from the storyline to get grounded. For example, while I know where Mount Vernon, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Saratoga, and Yorktown are – it helps to be reminded of their relationship to each other. Philbrick gives us a map just about every time we are about to need one. He also includes maps showing how the tall ships move around the battle scenes – for example, what wearing is, how they form a line of battle, and what having the wind does.

    While at first I thought writing on such a narrow subject might be boring, I ended up turning the pages with ease. Philbrick has a nice style and draws the reader in. I highly recommend this entry into the early days of American history.

  • Dan Downing

    Readers of history often forget that many authors are making an argument for a particular point of view. Mr. Philbrick certainly has an argument he is making, and he is clear about it. Further, in his Notes he laboriously lists---in microscopic print---his sources and sometimes their detractors. That makes for interesting reading well after the main body has been consumed. Also included is a "Where are they now" section. Well, not really, since we know every actor on that Revolutionary Stage lon

    Readers of history often forget that many authors are making an argument for a particular point of view. Mr. Philbrick certainly has an argument he is making, and he is clear about it. Further, in his Notes he laboriously lists---in microscopic print---his sources and sometimes their detractors. That makes for interesting reading well after the main body has been consumed. Also included is a "Where are they now" section. Well, not really, since we know every actor on that Revolutionary Stage long ago left us. But we do find out a bit about their subsequent careers and their longevity, which is surprisingly long for many, tragically brief for a few. Those with the most Biblical lifespans live well into the 19th century, practically to the eve of the Civil War. Which bring up one of the most disgusting aspects of human nature mentioned here, were barbarities of many sorts are cited. The British, for instance, were no gentlemen nor devout believers in square play. But it was Americans, especially the snotty Virginians, even the sainted George himself, who comported themselves most disgracefully. The ink on the surrender papers had hardly dried before slave owners were pursuing those who had accepted the British promise of freedom. Most of the slaves perished, largely because even before they became losers, the British discarded the African-Americans like spoiled food. Only the newly appointed chief in New York, Sir Guy Carleton, showed a civilized streak, forcing even Washington to accept the freeing of former slaves.

    Philbrick writes clearly and well and honestly. His description of the naval battles is detailed and well presented. Those without maritime knowledge are suitably educated. And today, with the Internet at our fingertips, terms and maneuvers and the ships themselves can be made to come almost to life.

    Highly recommended.

  • Geoffrey

    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

    For the overwhelming majority of us, the Battle of Yorktown is little more than a quick mention from our history textbooks as the final major battle of the American Revolution. And to say the least, we miss out on quite a bit of all that led up to the pivotal moment. This includes amazing military and logistical maneuvers, numerous characters who stepped up to the plate when necessary to single-handedly save the day

    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

    For the overwhelming majority of us, the Battle of Yorktown is little more than a quick mention from our history textbooks as the final major battle of the American Revolution. And to say the least, we miss out on quite a bit of all that led up to the pivotal moment. This includes amazing military and logistical maneuvers, numerous characters who stepped up to the plate when necessary to single-handedly save the day, several instances of pure good luck chance, and more, all taking place in a grand setting that encompassed nearly entire length of the Thirteen Colonies and the Caribbean. Most of us have no idea of the grand scope of everything that had to fall into place in order to set the stage for the Franco-American victory at Yorktown.

    To say the least, master history writer Nathaniel Philbrick's new work "In the Hurricane's Eye" will be appreciated by many for its ability to fill in some heavy knowledge gaps and ability to help give a solid handle on all that encompassed the amazing path to the final battle of the American Revolution

    ....And of course, if those exact specifics aren't quite what you're looking for, don't worry. If you're looking for nothing more than an exciting yet also enjoyably informative American history read, Philbrick once again comes through in spades.

  • Nancy

    The defeated British army trudged out of the ruins of Yorktown to the slow beat of a drum, surrounded by the American militia on one side of the road and the French on the other. The British General and his army showed their disdain of the Americans, giving their attention to the French. How could a barely clothed army of ill-fed and unpaid country yahoos defeat their magnificence? Only the French were worthy enemies.

    And yet somehow General George Washington had achieved the unthinkable. Yes, he

    The defeated British army trudged out of the ruins of Yorktown to the slow beat of a drum, surrounded by the American militia on one side of the road and the French on the other. The British General and his army showed their disdain of the Americans, giving their attention to the French. How could a barely clothed army of ill-fed and unpaid country yahoos defeat their magnificence? Only the French were worthy enemies.

    And yet somehow General George Washington had achieved the unthinkable. Yes, he needed the French navy to do it. He knew this battle would be fought on water. And even if the French generals often ignored Washington's directive and did what they wanted, they were pivotal.

    It all started with hurricanes in the Caribbean. The French were forced to move their ships to safer latitudes. The rest is history. The history Philbrick covers In The Hurricane's Eye.

    Maps show readers the battles that are the focus of this installment of Philbrick's history of the Revolutionary War. There is no focus on one big personality, like Benedict Arnold was in Philbrick's previous volume Valiant Ambition. This is an ensemble cast of characters--British, French, and American.

    But some things stand out. Washington for his ability to reign in his passions to keep a cool head. A favorite story is how Washington deceived the British by building ovens to bake the fresh bread the French army found a necessity on a route to New York City while the army headed south.

    Readers are reminded of the plight of the common American militiaman, who after six years at war are released without recompense, worn out, to an uncertain future. 200,000 men had served. The escaped slaves who served the British with hopes of freedom were left without protection, starving and diseased, preyed upon by Southerners rounding up their property.

    At war's end, America consisted of individual states unwilling to work together. They would not agree on taxes to pay for the war, and now they all vied for their own concerns. Anarchy threatened.

    This narrative takes readers on a journey into an understanding of our past that will challenge the simplistic vision of America's beginnings encountered in school textbooks. Was victory at Yorktown all because of hurricanes? Or Washington's superior leadership? Was it because the French funded the war that Americans refused to support financially? Or the missteps of British generals?

    Near the end of the book, Washington is quoted from a letter written to the French Admiral de Grasse: "A great mind knows how to make personal sacrifices to secure an important general good." I was appalled by the war crimes and suffering described in the book, but I was also inspired by Washington's ability to always chose what was right for his country. If only our leaders today would channel the Founding Father's vision of personal sacrifice and self-control, to do what was right for the many and the country.

    I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Abby Morris

    I am absolutely fascinated with the events surrounding the American Revolution- call me a sucker for the most unlikely victories one could imagine- and I love an opportunity to dig in to the time period with my reading. I enjoyed this book, but it was lacking a bit of the personal touch that I come to rely on during reading. These were amazingly normal people who did extraordinary things, so I hate to miss out on that. I somewhat knew most of the characters already, so that helped, but the book

    I am absolutely fascinated with the events surrounding the American Revolution- call me a sucker for the most unlikely victories one could imagine- and I love an opportunity to dig in to the time period with my reading. I enjoyed this book, but it was lacking a bit of the personal touch that I come to rely on during reading. These were amazingly normal people who did extraordinary things, so I hate to miss out on that. I somewhat knew most of the characters already, so that helped, but the book was still a slow and dense read. I am still happy to report that I learned quite a bit about the last year of the American Revolution, which was a treat.

  • Scott Martin

    Another good work from Philbrick, this one offers a take on the latter stages of the American Revolution, focusing on the naval actions associated with the French fleet that would ultimately help Washington defeat the British at Yorktown. It discusses the various interactions between Washington and his French counterparts, as well as the actions of other American and British Generals, as the war shifted from the Northern part of the United States to the Southern Strategy of the British. As the f

    Another good work from Philbrick, this one offers a take on the latter stages of the American Revolution, focusing on the naval actions associated with the French fleet that would ultimately help Washington defeat the British at Yorktown. It discusses the various interactions between Washington and his French counterparts, as well as the actions of other American and British Generals, as the war shifted from the Northern part of the United States to the Southern Strategy of the British. As the fighting took place in the Carolinas and Virginia, the French, with Spanish help, looked to move its naval forces through the Caribbean and up towards the Chesapeake. It culminated in the blockade that the British forces could not break, and thus the victory at Yorktown.

    I don't think this work is better than the Heart of the Sea, but it is another solid historical work by Philbrick, who combines so many stories and historic events in a very readable account of a part of American history that doesn't quite get a lot of attention. The reader for the book does a solid job with the material. Worth the time invested to listen/read.

  • Kathleen

    Despite the Philbrick’s title, In the Hurricane’s Eye, Washington appears to be less of a genius than ‘lucky’ in the Victory at Yorktown. How so? Let me count the ways—

    o Washington’s genius was unique in recognizing that victory would be achieved only by first challenging the overwhelming sea power of the British fleet. France and its navy entered the war on the side of the colonies in 1778, but didn’t show up in force until 1781.

    o France (and England) valued the sugar plantations in the Caribbe

    Despite the Philbrick’s title, In the Hurricane’s Eye, Washington appears to be less of a genius than ‘lucky’ in the Victory at Yorktown. How so? Let me count the ways—

    o Washington’s genius was unique in recognizing that victory would be achieved only by first challenging the overwhelming sea power of the British fleet. France and its navy entered the war on the side of the colonies in 1778, but didn’t show up in force until 1781.

    o France (and England) valued the sugar plantations in the Caribbean much more than the colonies. France’s navy weathered three severe hurricanes there in 1780, so was much more amenable to head north during the hurricane season in 1781.

    o Washington wanted the French navy to challenge the British navy in New York harbor—closer to where his army was. The French preferred Chesapeake Bay where Cornwallis was. This was fortunate: Cornwallis was an impetuous commander and his soldiers had committed some heinous acts of cruelty that solidified American resistance in the Carolinas. The British were much more entrenched in New York.

    o Washington was able to move his army south to the Chesapeake Bay without General Clinton, located in New York, taking notice until it was much too late for him to stop Washington.

    o And who knew that America is deeply indebted to Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, who convinced the businessmen of Havana to loan the French fleet a half-million pesos. This allowed the French sailors (and Americans) to be paid. The Americans, in particular, suffered poor morale and were deserting in ever increasing numbers—especially when they had not been receiving any pay for long periods of time.

    o There was also a shift in the wind during the Battle of the Chesapeake that greatly benefitted the French fleet. Divine intervention?

    Philbrick claims that it was the French that rescued the Americans: “The bitter truth was that by the summer of 1781 the American Revolution had failed…The very existence of the United States now rested with the soldiers and sailors of another nation.” In addition to the invaluable help from the French navy, the French also supplied half of the regular troops at Yorktown.

    Philbrick is a sailor himself, and his descriptions of naval maneuvers and strategy shows this intimate knowledge. Recommend.

  • Book of the Month

    Why I love it

    by Siobhan Jones

    Years before landing the best job in the world—a.k.a. reading books for a living, a.k.a. Editorial Director at BOTM ;)—I was a middle school social studies teacher. Researching lessons was the best part; from Ancient Egypt to the Atomic Age, I was a sponge for it all. So when this Revolutionary War book landed on my desk, I welcomed the chance to nerd out. If you can relate, then good news! This might just be the read for you.

    Everyone knows that George Washington won

    Why I love it

    by Siobhan Jones

    Years before landing the best job in the world—a.k.a. reading books for a living, a.k.a. Editorial Director at BOTM ;)—I was a middle school social studies teacher. Researching lessons was the best part; from Ancient Egypt to the Atomic Age, I was a sponge for it all. So when this Revolutionary War book landed on my desk, I welcomed the chance to nerd out. If you can relate, then good news! This might just be the read for you.

    Everyone knows that George Washington won the Revolutionary War. But in

    , master storyteller Nathaniel Philbrick recounts the little-known tale of how he teamed up with France’s navy to end it for good. Centuries before sonar and cell phones, this was no small feat; wars were won and lost by coordinating troops that were hundreds of miles apart. Yet somehow, against all odds, Washington managed to do just that, and the rest is history. This book tells that fascinating story.

    Now, listen up, class: If your eyes glazed over reading the above paragraph, you should definitely not choose this book. It’s military history, after all—not everyone’s cup of tea. That being said, it’s a remarkably character-driven story (picture curmudgeonly Washington verbally sparring with salty Lafayette and you’ll have a sense of the spirit that Philbrick conjures). If you’re seeking an informative and lively drama on the high seas,

    will not disappoint.

    Read more at:

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