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Washington's General


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About the Author

Terry Golway is a frequent contributor to American Heritage, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times. His previous books include So That Others Might Live, The Irish in America, For the Cause of Liberty, and Irish Rebel. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.


Born into a prosperous Quaker family in Rhode Island, Greene (1742-1786) had no formal education and remained at his family's forge into his 30s, when he abruptly abjured pacifism as the Revolution gathered steam. Through thorough research, Golway (So Others Might Live: A History of New York's Bravest), who has written for American Heritage, makes Greene's numerous and complex accomplishments accessible, committing few excesses of patriotism (and fewer of psychobiography). From the Revolution's earliest stages, Greene was appointed commanding general of the Rhode Island contingent in the Patriots' siege of Boston; Golway shows him as one of Washington's most trusted subordinates, with a mixed record as a field commander and a good one as a very reluctant quartermaster-general (a job that made making bricks without straw look simple). In the war's darkest days, in late 1780, Greene was appointed commander in the Southern theater, where the British had nearly swept all before them. Without ever winning a major battle, Greene, Golway shows, kept his army in the field, supported Patriot militias and suppressed Tory ones, undercut British logistics, eventually forced Cornwallis north to Yorktown and besieged Charleston. Along the way he married and had a lively family life, became a slave-owner (through owning land in Georgia) and then died of sunstroke and asthma. Golway makes a convincing case that Greene should be better known. (Feb. 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Nathanael Greene's early death in 1786 prevented him from being remembered in the same light as Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and others of that ilk. Golway (So That Others Might Live), a columnist and city editor of the New York Observer, contends that Greene, a revolutionary hero, has been lost to history, and he endeavors to correct this oversight. This book traces the life of Greene, who shed his Quaker roots to become the victorious commander of the American Southern army. Self-conscious of his lack of formal education, Greene strove to be recognized for his hard work. Four tedious years as the army's quartermaster earned him the confidence and praise of Washington, who made him his heir apparent. Finally, Greene's unconventional leadership in the South frustrated the English, and ultimately Greene won the day. Golway superbly intertwines Greene's personal life with his military and business ambitions. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Charles M. Minyard, U.S. Army (ret.), Blountstown, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"While researching and writing a book about George Washington, I concluded that Nathanael Greene was the most under appreciated great man in the War for Independence, and that he deserved a modern biography that told his incredible story. Now, here it is. Washington once said that, if he went down in battle, Greene was his choice to succeed him. Read this book and you will understand why." --Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington

"Terry Golway has done a magnificent job of capturing the personal and professional Nathanael Greene and portraying him as a living, vibrant, exceptionally competent general whose significance has not been widely appreciated until now. The depth and breadth of research are outstanding, and the prose a joy to read. This should be regarded as the definitive biography for years to come." --Robert M. Utley, author of The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

"Terry Golway has written a remarkable book that brings the American Revolution alive for the 21st century reader in a new way. He gives us a Nathanael Greene that we can all understand: a modern man, ambitious but unsure of himself and the new political world he was creating, deeply in love but uncertain about his fidelity to his beautiful wife, not terribly fussy about the ethics of making money. Yet this Rhode Island Quaker risked his life and reputation to rescue the faltering Revolution in the South and incidentally proved himself a brilliant general. This is the American Revolution for adults." --Thomas Fleming, author of Liberty! The American Revolution

"If George Washington was the one indispensable man in our Revolution, Nathanael Greene was surely Washington's one indispensable general. In a spirited, wholly engrossing narrative, Terry Golway summons this underappreciated figure back from the mists and puts the living man before us with all his crochets, self-pity, self-doubt--and the tenacious, high-hearted optimism that, along with a wholly self-taught military master, more than once saved his infant republic. This fine biography includes among its pleasures a love story (with its share of thorns amid the roses), a loquacious subject whose letters, for all their quaint spelling, are full of the eloquently-expressed passions of a gifted, beleaguered man, and perhaps most important of all, a wonderfully vivid reminder of what a reckless, audacious, almost miraculous adventure we Americans embarked upon when we decided we needed a nation of our own." --Richard F. Snow, Editor-In-Chief, American Heritage

"Nathanael Greene lost every major battle he fought, and then he died young. Yet he was one of the greatest military geniuses America ever produced. Terry Golway triumphantly resurrects the pugnacious, self-taught optimist who helped Washington win the American Revolution." --Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington

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