Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Leutze's familiar painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, graces the cover of Murphy's latest book, but the story begins before that dramatic event, when the Second Continental Congress appoints Washington to lead the army in June 1775. Profoundly aware of his personal limitations as a commander, Washington struggles to turn his initially unruly officers and troops into a well-disciplined fighting force before the formidable British army brings the war—and the young country—to an untimely end. Focusing on the Continental army's progress from Washington's appointment through the Battle of Princeton in January 1777, this book recounts military events, setbacks, and successes as the tide of the war slowly began to turn. Printed in relatively large type with wide-spaced lines, the text is clearly written and makes very good use of quotes. Text and illustrations, including maps and reproductions of period paintings and documents, are printed in shades of brown. Though sources are not provided for individual quotes, the excellent back matter includes a discussion of Leutze's iconic painting, a time line of the Revolution, a list of Internet sites, and a lengthy partial list of books consulted. Murphy offers a refreshingly frank, vivid, well-researched account of a pivotal time in American history. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

In the first half of the book, Murphy describes 1776's multiple military disasters, noting the colonists' loss of confidence and will. This detailed background leads to Washington's climactic crossing of the Delaware River and subsequent defeat of the British at Trenton and Princeton. Pale sepia-toned text and illustrations (including maps and artwork reproductions) give the book a satisfying historical feel. Timeline, websites. Bib. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

When George Washington became commander in chief of the Continental Army, he knew that, despite earlier victories, the men were undisciplined and unprepared for war. In the first half of his latest book, Murphy reiterates this observation, describing 1776's multiple military disasters in New York and noting the colonists' loss of confidence and will. Corresponding battle maps require tedious scrutiny to follow the paths of the split British and Continental forces fighting around Manhattan, but the detailed background effectively serves as rising action, leading to Washington's climactic crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 and subsequent defeat of the British at Trenton and Princeton. Now the army begins to coalesce, and readers see the importance of Washington's tactic (his nickname: the 'Old Fox'). A rather pale sepia-toned text and illustrations (including maps; portraits of important figures; and reproductions of paintings, frequently with smart captions) give the book a satisfying historical feel. Appended is a description of Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Gott-lieb Leutze's famous painting shown on the jacket; a helpful timeline, a list of websites, and a detailed bibliography. BETTY CARTER Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Murphy brings the winter of 1776 to life with powerful prose and captivating illustrations. After devastating defeats in and around New York City, the Continental Army was disintegrating and the British were perilously close to snuffing out the American Revolution. Washington saved the Army, the Revolution and his command with his daring surprise attack on Trenton, quickly followed by victory at the Battle of Princeton. The author takes pains to discuss Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware, noting that the point of the iconic painting is its symbolism rather than historical accuracy. Given this care, it is regrettable that the author does not specifically debunk the widely told story that the Hessians were easily defeated because they were hungover, though his account by no means supports it, instead portraying the Hessians as well-organized and professional. Too, it's a shame there's no mention of the pre-attack, morale-boosting reading of Thomas Paine's "These are the times...." Despite these small shortcomings, this is a superbly written, well-researched and attractively illustrated account that may well launch researchers on further exploration. (chronology, Revolutionary War sites directory, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)


Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection

Murphy's historical works are compelling because he paints an engaging picture of the time and place. This latest work is complete with rich detail and honest appraisal of the main characters. The first battles of the American Revolution were rife with intrigue and disappointment. As Washington's troops deserted and he miscalculated British troop movements, some of his staunchest allies in the Continental Congress wanted to replace him. His defeat and possible replacement forced Washington to refine his leadership abilities, which turned the tide of battle. The Crossing follows Washington's defeat and retreat from Long Island to the defeat of the English troops at Princeton. Murphy incorporates famous paintings to supplement the written material. He devotes a chapter to the crossing of the Delaware, which includes the famous paintings by Henry Mosler and Emanuel Leutze. A description of the inaccuracies in these portraits provides a unique perspective and understanding of the actual rossing. Murphy has written an excellent companion to any study of the American Revolution. Timeline. Index. Highly Recommended. Cathy Leverkus, Librarian, Elementary/Middle School, Culver City, California ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Murphy (Truce) again digs into the well of history, this time emerging with a well-researched, absorbing account of the early battles of the Revolutionary War with Gen. George Washington at their center. Enhanced by numerous sepia maps of troop movements, prints, paintings, and portraits of prominent figures, the blow-by-blow narrative begins with the shots fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775 and continues until the tide-turning battles at Trenton and Princeton in early 1777. Plentiful description ("the sky darkened ominously, and an icy drizzle began to fall") paints a clear picture of the hardships a beleaguered, dwindling Continental Army and its commander faced. Washington, who "had to shape untrained farmers and shopkeepers into skilled soldiers and then defeat the greatest military power in the world," persevered despite self-doubt, defeats, and even calls for his ouster. Murphy succeeds in conveying the key role Washington played in the formation of a United States, when its existence rested on his ragtag army of militias and citizen soldiers. Included are a time line, source list, index, and a list of Revolutionary War sites readers can visit. Ages 9–12. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 5–9—Murphy lays out the stakes in this well-known story immediately: the fate of the revolution and the country itself rested with the man chosen to lead the Continental Army. He centers the story on Washington, arguing that the early battles in and around New York and New Jersey transformed him from an inexperienced if well-respected military leader into a formidable commander and strategist. Whereas purely chronological histories drag readers' attention from one theater of war to another, Murphy concentrates on the troops directly under Washington's command in the events leading up to the battles of Trenton and Princeton, so that each step or misstep is as riveting as if readers were following at the heels of "the old fox." When the tide turns in the Patriots' favor, it is with a sense of relief rather than as a fait accompli. Illustrations include reproductions of portraits and several good, clear maps showing battlefields and troop movements. An especially effective spread of Washington Crossing the Delaware is followed by an analysis of the artist's theme of America's diverse people fighting for freedom against all odds. The time line and index are thorough, and the list of websites is comprehensive. Notes and sources, instead of listed chapter by chapter, are listed "in order of importance." A first purchase, even if your American Revolution shelves are packed.—Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM

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