Truth, as the poet reminds us, is always stranger than fiction. Still, as legions of students are wont to testify, historical truth is seldom presented in an interesting manner. Meanwhile, those who write history for the nonspecialist audience are accused of sacrificing verisimilitude for salacious and provocative fantasy. Robert Leckie is not among that number who mislead their readers, and he is anything but boring.
Leckie’s latest work offers a wealth of information of interest to an audience which probably includes not only the general public, but a few professional historians as well. Leckie offers a conventional battle history of the war, but leavens same with myriad mundane details regarding the eighteenth century battlefield and those who occupied its sanguinary confines.
Those who peruse the pages of GEORGE WASHINGTON’S WAR will be informed on a variety of subjects, from the virtues and limitations of the Tower musket to the recruiting practices of the British Army. Additionally, Leckie presents capsule biographies of those who influenced and altered the course of events within an empire at war with itself. The reader is made aware of the foibles of Georges I-III, William Howe, John Burgoyne, Thomas Paine, and a host of others.
Leckie may overlook a nuance or two, and his discussion of the ideological basis for the Revolution may be found wanting. It is even possible that the elimination of the odd anecdote to make room for more detailed analysis of an episode might well be in order. Still, GEORGE WASHINGTON’S WAR fills a previously unoccupied niche in the coverage of the Revolutionary War, and even the professional will find much to appreciate.