Book Review essay

John Ferling, a famous historian, has studied the history of America for forty years, particularly the period of the establishment of America as an independent country. As a result of this study he wrote nine books devoted to American history, such as “A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic”¯, which was given the Fraunces Tavern Book Award, “Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800”¯, “Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution”¯, etc. All Ferling’s books differ from other books on history due to their vividness and historical accuracy. The book “Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence”¯ is not an exception and presents a full description of the American Revolution.

As any Ferling’s book “Almost a Miracle”¯ helps the reader better understand the horror of the war and its importance for the country. It is an essential book for those who study history ”“ scholars, students, practitioners ”“ as it gives the account of a crucial event in the history of America. But what makes the book particular, different from other historical books? Ā We will try to analyze it in this paper.

The secret of John Ferling’s books is in the author’s professionalism and deep knowledge of the subject. In “Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence”¯ he expresses his opinion of the Independence War, analyzing the events at that period. John Ferling opens new sides of the war and describes the Revolution from his point of view, different from usual description. He claims that the War of Independence was within a hairbreadth of the loss; though, this fact is usually concealed by historians. The author tells us that numerous battles were disastrous for the Americans and only due to the political leaders and particular war battles in the Carolinas the Americans won the war. He manages to convey his point of view and the reality of the war to readers, who are fascinated by the narration.

Another feature of “Almost a Miracle”¯, which makes it so interesting and persuasive, is the author’s special attention to people and their stories. It makes readers feel the tragedy of the war and sympathize those who were involved into the Revolution. “In the century and a half before 1776 it would have been difficult to find anyone born in the English colonies in North America who had not lost a loved one ”“ a son, a father, a brother, a husband ”“ to war. If one was lucky, the loss was temporary, only for a few months during the period of service. But sometimes it was forever.”¯ [1]

Particularly, John Ferling gives consideration to the participation of African Americans in the war and discusses the reasons of their active engagement in the war. African American slaves were attracted by the perspective of being freed after the Revolution while free African Americans were guided by the principles of the Revolutionary ideology.

Being detailed, Ferling’s description of the war sometimes shocks. The picture in front of the readers’ eyes astonishes and makes their blood freeze. “”¦severed hands and limbs, crushed skulls, and breached arteries. Some men were decapitated by the slashing cavalrymen. Others were trampled by maddened horses. The bellies of many were laid open by bayonets.”¯ [2] However, it just helps to feel the horror of the war, making the book more trustworthy.

To conclude, John Ferling’s book “Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence”¯ occupies a special place among other books on history. It may be equally interesting for common readers and for scholars because it paints a picture of the War of Independence in details. Being a fascinating book, it also gives historical details and discovers some new facts about the Revolution. In the book John Ferling, an experienced historian, gives his own point of view of the development and significance of the War of Independence and claims that this war was a crucial event both in the history of America and of the whole world. “I find the lure of the War of Independence to be ever more irresistible. It was war on a grand scale. Near its end, John Adams remarked that the American Revolution had set the world ablaze, and indeed the War of Independence grew to be a world war, with men fighting from Florida to Canada, from the Caribbean to Africa to India, and across broad reaches of high seas.”¯[3]

Thus, due to this book the readers are able to look at the Revolution in a new way and ponder over its importance and its greatness.

[1] John Ferling, Almost a Miracle:The American Victory in the War of Independence. (NY: Oxford Press, 2007), 155.

[2] Ferling, Almost a Miracle, 201.

[3] Ferling, Almost a Miracle, 109


Leave a Reply