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Random House Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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George Washington at War
By (author): Robert L. O'Connell
9780812996999 Hardcover English General Trade HISTORY / United States / Revolutionary Period Apr 02, 2019
$42.00 CAD
Active 6.4 x 9.52 x 1.22 in 400 pages 9 MAPS; 39 PHOTOS THROUGHOUT Random House
In a bold reappraisal of Washington as a young soldier destined to be a legendary general, an acclaimed military historian brings to life the man who took on the British and through his leadership came to define the American character.

How did George Washington become an American icon? Robert O’Connell, bestselling author of Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman, introduces us to Washington before he was Washington: a young soldier, champing at the bit for a commission in the British army, frustrated by his position as a minor Virginia aristocrat. Fueled by ego, he led a disastrous expedition in the Seven Years War, but then the commander grew up. We witness George Washington take up politics and join Virginia’s colonial governing body, the House of Burgesses, where he became ever more attuned to the injustices of life under the British Empire and the paranoid, revolutionary atmosphere of the colonies. When war seemed inevitable, he was the right man—the only man—to lead the nascent American army.

We would not be here without George Washington, and O’Connell proves that General Washington was at least as significant to the founding of the United States as Washington the president. He emerges here as cunning and manipulative, a subtle puppeteer among intimates and a master cajoler—but all in the cause of rectitude and moderation. Washington became the embodiment of the Revolution itself. He draped himself over the Revolutionary process and tamped down its fires. As O’Connell writes, the war was decisive because Washington managed to stop a cycle of violence with the force of personality and personal restraint.

In his trademark conversational, witty style, Robert O’Connell has written a compelling reexamination of General Washington and his revolutionary world. He cuts through enigma surrounding Washington to show how the general made all the difference and became a new archetype of revolutionary leader in the process.

Story Locale: Revolutionary America

ACCOMPLISHED MILITARY HISTORIAN: O’Connell has written about warfare across the ages, from Hannibal and ancient Rome to the Middle Ages to the Civil War and beyond. Whatever the era, he brings a keen understanding of how strategy, resources, technology, and human psychology all have a role in the outcome of warfare—as they certainly did in the American Revolution.

ENTERTAINING, AUTHORITATIVE VOICE: In O’Connell’s telling, Washington becomes a “generalissimo,” the patriots are “paranoid” about British control, and Revolutionary America was “Dangerland.” With the trademark color that he brought to the life of General Sherman in Fierce Patriot, O’Connell makes the ever-enigmatic Washington and his world come alive with full-fleshed characters and a deep understanding of the human factors of revolution.

PRAISE FOR FIERCE PATRIOT: “Robert O’Connell’s Fierce Patriot is a sharply drawn and propulsive march through the tortured psyche of the man known to his army as ’Uncle Billy’—a man on a lifelong march of his own, not to Atlanta or the sea but to his own independence.”—Allen C. Guelzo, The Wall Street Journal; “[O’Connell’s] narrative of the March to the Sea is perhaps the best I have read about that ever-controversial subject.” Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

RENEWED REVOLUTIONARY INTEREST: The last two years—the post-Hamilton era—have seen greatly renewed interest in the founding era, and here O’Connell serves up a gripping origin story of our first president.

Robert L. O’Connell received a Ph.D. in history at the University of Virginia, and spent thirty years as a senior analyst at the National Ground Intelligence Center. He is presently a visiting professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, and was a contributing editor to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. He is the author of numerous books including Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman; The Ghosts of Cannae: Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic; Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression; and Soul of the Sword: An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present.

Author Residence: Charlottesville, VA

Author Hometown: New York, NY

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“Given the amount of ink spilled over the years, it is not easy to offer a fresh look at George Washington’s leadership role during the war for American independence. But Robert L. O’Connell has done it in Revolutionary. The title announces the insight, which is the otherwise uncontrollable political and military energies released by the war that Washington was able to orchestrate.”—Joseph J. Ellis, author of American Dialogues: The Founders and Us

“George Washington underwent a remarkable arc of transformation from the vain, brazenly ambitious, and disaster-prone young officer of the French and Indian War of the 1750s to the Revolutionary leader known as the ‘Father of His Country’ two decades later. With his graceful writing, thoughtful insight, and intimate knowledge of his subject, Robert L. O’Connell in Revolutionary generously takes us along on that transformative journey of Washington’s. This is a fascinating portrait of a leader emerging into greatness out of the cauldron of war.”—Peter Stark, author of Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father

“Robert O’Connell has captured the essence of General George Washington, showing him to be a class-conscious man of the eighteenth century and a leader who could, and did, err egregiously. But he also demonstrates Washington’s perceptive understanding of the American Revolution, the army he commanded, the enemy he fought, and the cultivation of his own image.  Revolutionary is an illuminating and provocative book that should be read by all who wish to understand Washington’s contribution to America’s victory in the War of Independence.”—John Ferling, author of Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe, and the Struggle Against the Old Order in America and Europe
“A provocative biography arguing that George Washington’s greatest accomplishment was guiding a rare revolution that turned out well for the revolutionaries…a delightfully convincing case that Washington was history’s least ruthless and most successful revolutionary.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Always expect the unexpected from Robert L. O’Connell. One of our best military historians doesn’t disappoint with Revolutionary. Can there be a better account, or a more concise one, of the leader who improvised a genuine revolution and made it work—ours, fortunately?”—Robert Cowley, founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History

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