ImageJohn Ferling’s, Almost a Miracle: the American Victory in the War of Independence is a book that I found to be a comprehensive look at the Revolutionary War. The book encompasses the war, leaders, political impacts and military strategies that indeed justified the title of being a miracle. I definitely felt that after reading most of the book, the successes of the war indeed were short of a miracle and I thoughtfully enjoyed its composition.

Ferling is a distinguished writer and has written several books on the American Revolution era. His background of historical analysis is extensive and genuine.  This is my second book of Ferling’s and I have enjoyed both accounts of his work.  My first book of Ferling’s, A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic demonstrated for me a new insight to the British perspective the American Revolution. This book, Almost a Miracle, almost completes that circle of understanding the Revolutionary war.

While I enjoyed reading about the American side of the conflict, Ferling captivated me in understanding the British perspective. He is a balanced writer that illustrates both sides of the war and I got a sense of balance while reading his work. Ferling was not afraid of taking risks. His illustrations of George Washington’s success and failures were prominent in his book outlining both the mistakes and the successes he made that made drastic changes in how the war was handled. In chapter six, Ferling outlines the battle of New York and the many mistakes made which in turn had several consequences. I took away a lot of perspective from this chapter and found that the American Revolution should have ended during this battle. Ferling delicately displays Washington’s mistakes as well as some of the mistakes Great Britain had made in the procrastination of certain situations.  Great Britain’s procrastination took away chances for them to suppress the American Army and end the war while Washington placed leaders in wrong areas, failed to push troops in areas where they should have been and altered plans that he didn’t agree with. Ferling’s illustration of these events helped me better understand military tactics and leadership.

Ferling is not afraid to take risks in his book. He explores and illustrates the horrific side of war that many readers in some instances do not contemplate. In chapter twelve, Ferling writes about the conditions at Valley Forge and leaves nothing to the imagination when describing the circumstances, “Four days after entering Valley Forge, Washington told Congress that the army was without meat and down to its last twenty five barrels of flour. It had no soap, or vinegar, and there were shortages of clothing, shoes and blankets. Nearly three-thousand men were barefoot and otherwise naked.”[1]

            As Ferling has written so many brilliant books surrounding the study of the American Revolution I plan on reading more of his work. Now that I have two under my belt I feel as though I will be able to read through the rest of his work quickly and easily while partaking in the excitement of his eloquent writing talents.

[1] John Ferling, Almost a Miracle: the American Victory in the War of Independence

New York, Oxford University Press, 2007, 276.