I just finished this, the second of McCullough’s that I’ve read (the other being his also-excellent “John Adams”), and am now thinking that McCullough is one of the best history writers I’ve read. Like “Adams,” “1776” is engagingly-written, and very approachable.
The title should give you a good clue as to the time period covered, and in fact it only but briefly touches on events pre- and post-1776 to give a little context. The bulk is devoted to the battles for Boston and New York, the former a triumph for George Washington, the latter an absolute disaster, and closes with the American winter victories early in 1777 in Trenton and Princeton.
McCullough has done a tremendous amount of research into these campaigns, quoting frequently from enlisted men’s journals, Washington’s correspondence and so on. The conditions under which the American army served, with no uniforms, inadequate arms, and little training throughout the ranks, makes one marvel that they were able to accomplish anything at all.
The personalities of Washingon and his aides Nathaniel Greene, Henry Knox emerge fully, as do those of their adversaries, the Howes, military brothers sent by King George to quell the rebellious Americans. Washington often indecisive, but always mindful of the end goal, Knox a daring man, whose cannon, dragged a long ways from Ticonderoga to Boston, were largely responsible for the British abandonment of Boston.
If you’ve any interest in early American history, I would highly recommend reading this book. Two thumbs up!