The Skin of Their Teeth

John Ferling, professor emeritus from the University of West Georgia and author of several other books on politics and political figures in the Revolutionary and New Nation eras, has produced a work of mature scholarship that reflects a lifetime of study and lecturing and offers a highly readable and comprehensive military history of our War of Independence.  Ferling knows his subject both generally and in depth, and communicates his knowledge to the reader with a facile pen and an eye for that which is significant.  In nearly 600 pages of text, there is not a wasted line or a redundancy.  I can fault him only for the few things he omitted—something inescapable when writing a one-volume study on a war that spanned nearly a decade and included battles on land and sea, large and small, conventional and irregular.

Although there is not much new information in this volume, Ferling’s contribution is nonetheless significant.  He synthesizes the best information from many individual monographs and primary documents; includes the British perspective, both strategic and tactical, on all battles and describes their officers and men in engaging and intimate detail; provides maps and battle descriptions that are geared to the general reader; and reveals the foibles, follies, corruption, and dereliction of duty on the part of both the British and the Americans, as well as their brilliance, courage, integrity, and...

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