Sunday, February 19, 2006


I finished reading 1776 (David McCullough) this morning. It has taken me frustratingly long to get through it because of everything else going on, but it was a great read.

My knowledge of history is weaker than I would like it to be -- it's one of those subjects that I was rarely taught well in school and about which I had only moderate motivation to pursue myself, and as a result I only know a fraction of the things I think I probably should. The big reason I liked this book is not only because I learned a lot of information I hadn't already known, but also that it was written in such a way that I think I am likely to remember it. I now have real stories to attach to the phrases I vaguely remember from school (e.g. guns of Ticonderoga), I know why and when Washington's army was encamped a mile or two from my high school, and I know what happened at the Siege of Boston.

The book is relevant to some of our current military conflicts as well. Like a lot of people we're fighting around the world, we as an army were untrained; had serious shortages of weapons and ammunition and often resorted to stuff made at home from whatever happened to be around (broom handles, rakes, etc.); were often wthout adequate clothing and shoes; used our greater knowledge of the landscape to our advantage; and most of all, had political and ideological motivation so strong that we managed to turn all our limitations into military advantage despite conventional wisdom about conflict and battle. Is it possible to overcome a force like that militarily?


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