Band of Giants
The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence
St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 2016, 276 pages
Book Review published on: March 17, 2017
“A Reduction of the British Army under the Command of Lord Cornwallis, is most happily effected.”
A recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution History Medal for his work in Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence, author Jack Kelly offers an exciting accounting of a group of ordinary citizens from all walks of life and their extraordinary contributions to the struggle for independence during the American Revolution. Since the early days of elementary school, we read and know about heroes like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. We may not have learned and likely do not know as much about other noteworthy members of the Continental Army—booksellers, farmers, Quakers, surveyors, and backwoodsmen that made all the difference between victory and defeat.
Replete with “I didn’t know that” and “ah-ha” moments, Kelly’s elegant narrative is a pleasure to read. Starting with the Battle of Jummonville Glen in 1754, Kelly details then Lt. Col. George Washington’s first taste of battle. It was both euphoric and vile. Washington would take these lessons learned from the first battle of the French and Indian War on to future campaigns and battles in America’s fight for her independence.
Kelly introduces the reader to some of the Continental Army’s key leadership. Some are well known; others are not. Men like Richard Montgomery, Daniel Morgan, Anthony Wayne, William Alexander, and Horatio Gates, to name a few. Kelly offers an enjoyable rendition of their service, victories, defeats, and strengths and weaknesses.
Sourced by meticulously detailed research and a rich bibliography, the best aspect of the book is the manner in which Kelly details the lives, service, and relationships between many of the leaders of the Continental Army. Students of military history and the American Revolution will find this book interesting and useful.
The reader finishes the book with an added benefit—that of a renewed appreciation for what early Americans endured in the fight for independence and freedom. Often, the reader is impressed by the leadership challenges commanders faced, the sacrifice these patriots made, the physical and mental hardships they endured, and the commitments they upheld in the birth of our nation. Our story of independence is one of marvel. It is amazing that a group of amateurs led other amateurs to defeat the then world’s superpower. Band of Giants provides the reader with insights into their struggles, their victories, and ultimately our freedom.
Book Review written by: David D. Haught, Fort Belvoir, Virginia