Top critical review
Not for the casual reader
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 22, 2021
Holy smokes. If you are planning to take on this book, make sure your comprehension muscles are in tip-top shape. This is not an easy read. If I wasn't the type who refused to quit (much like those who survived the Valley Forge winter), I would have never made it through this slog of a book. It is long and excruciatingly detailed. So much so, that I wonder how and from where the authors pulled all of this information together. How did they know the intricate details of the daily occurrences throughout this historical period, the thoughts that went through the minds of the countless members of the various armies, the conversations that were held in the heat of battle and the strategic planning that occurred behind closed doors? It is so detailed, perhaps the authors made some assumptions and filled in some blanks? I am not a historian, and not even really a history buff, but I actually live not far from Valley Forge, so I wanted to learn more about what happened in this place. Unfortunately, as other reviews have mentioned, this book is not so much about Valley Forge as it is about the period of the American Revolutionary War during 1777-1778. In fact, the actual winter encampment at Valley Forge isn't even discussed until Chapter 10 in the book. Much of it is historical discussion around the efforts and events of the Revolutionary War, including what was transpiring in Europe at the time. I will also echo other reviews that mention the excessive use of obscure vocabulary. Not one to skim over details, I often had to back up and reread sentences repeatedly to understand the points being made, keeping my dictionary app open right alongside to look up words. I also lost track of who was who, since there are so many names and characters throughout the book--I felt like I needed an org chart to refer back to. I am highly educated with advanced degrees, and I had a tough time working my way through this. So unless you are a real history nerd (nothing wrong with that) and love a challenging read, I'd recommend skipping this one.