It is hard to believe that the author of this sparkling, minutely detailed history has not spent his entire career studying the American Revolutionary War. Yet Atkinson is best known as the author of acclaimed volumes on World War II. Like those books, his new one is mostly a military history, and less an account of the broader revolution. Still, Atkinson displays a remarkable ability to bring leaders and unnamed soldiers alike into three-dimensional clarity. Wonderful maps enrich the narrative and capture the reader’s imagination, distinguishing taverns from churches and rail fences from stone walls. Although the narrative at times wallows in the sheer physical misery of fighting and dying in a brutal war, few who read the prologue will want to put the book down until they’ve finished the whole thing.
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