Oxford University Press, Feb 2004, 30.00, 384 pp.
Renowned historian David Hackett Fischer provides a terrific look at the famous General Washington as he led the crossing of the iced Delaware River during Christmas 1776. On the surface, it would have appeared lunacy to cross to the other side to face an alleged much superior force of professional enemy soldiers. However, Professor Hackett points out that the overwhelming odds were in reality not quite so insurmountable. During much of the year, the American rag tag army developed a new form of fighting suited to the land and much more flexible than the rigidity of the British troops and their Hessian mercenaries. Some myths that Professor Fischer debunks include the Hessians were not drunk, but bone weary from constant assault from guerillas and the weapon differential between the two forces was not even close to the legends. Finally the road to Trenton was filled with people not involved in the upcoming skirmish, but going about their everyday lives.
This is a great account that gives each side its proper due and criticism, but mostly praises Washington who saw the opportunity, had the means, and understood the strategic importance of a victory at Trenton. The battle is fully described so that armchair five star generals can understand what really happened and even reenact it. American History buffs will appreciate this powerful, vivid look at a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War, but even mythos believers like this reviewer can now discuss the significance of what really occurred at Trenton.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner