Whispers Across the Atlantick by David Smith

Whispers Across the Atlantick by David SmithWhispers Across the Atlantick: General William Howe and the American Revolution by David Smith
Published by A&C Black on July 13th 2017
Genres: History, War
Pages: 256
Source: NetGalley

General William Howe was the commander-in-chief of the British forces during the early campaigns of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). He was an enigma, who appeared on multiple occasions to be on the verge of winning the war for Britain, only to repeatedly fail to deliver the final blow.

Howe evoked passionate reactions in the people he worked with; his men loved him, his second-in-command detested him, his enemies feared him, and his political masters despaired of him. There was even a plot to murder him, in which British officers as well as Americans were implicated.

This book will be the first major work on this inscrutable British general for more than 40 years. Previously largely ignored by historians due to a lack of primary source documents upon which to draw, the author's recent archival discoveries, and ground-breaking research means that there are fascinating new insights to be told about Howe's performance during the American Revolution.

Howe's story includes intrigue, romance, and betrayal, played out on the battlefields of North America and concluding in a courtroom at the House of Commons, where Howe defended his decisions with his reputation and possibly his life on the line. The inquiry, complete with witness testimonies and savage debate between the bitterly divided factions of the British Parliament, forms the framework for the book, giving it the flavor of a courtroom drama rather than a standard military narrative history. As Howe struggles to clear his name, the titanic forces at work during the birth of the United States of America rage around him.

Whispers Across the Atlantick is the story of the American Revolutionary War, told through the eyes of the British commander Lord Howe. It interweaves the story of the military campaign against Howe having to explain himself before parliament after the fact. While the author does a steady job of tracking the various players on both sides of the war I really felt that the personal aspect of the war was lost.

Maybe it is my preference for a more narrative style of nonfiction storytelling but I really found it hard to make headway with this book. There just wasn’t enough to keep me interested, and in the end I decided to stop reading about 2/3rds of the way through.

I guess this is one for those with more of an interest in the British side of the revolutionary war, or those who enjoy a more steady pace in their history books, but it wasn’t for me.

I received a review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating Report
Overall: two-stars

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