In the late 1770s, his promising military career aborted, Baron de Steuben uprooted himself from his native Prussia and landed in America, where he schooled its troops to fight in the European manner, thereby influencing the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Norman Dietz's smooth, clear delivery make this biography easy to follow, and his energy never flags. He gives a straight narration, rather than adopting different voices or accents, which suits a text that is long on description and short on dialogue or quotations. This is a fine introduction to a significant player in Revolutionary War history, and Dietz makes it a listening experience even nonmilitary buffs may enjoy.
In the first book on Steuben since 1937, Paul Lockhart, an expert on European military history, finally explains the significance of Steuben's military experience in Europe. Steeped in the traditions of the Prussian army of Frederick the Great---the most ruthlessly effective in Europe---he taught the soldiers of the Continental Army how to fight like Europeans. His guiding hand shaped the army that triumphed over the British at Monmouth, Stony Point, and Yorktown. And his influence did not end with the Revolution. Steuben was instrumental in creating West Point and in writing the "Blue Book"---the first official regulations of the American army. His principles have guided the American armed forces to this day.
Steuben's life is also a classic immigrant story. A failure in midlife, he uprooted himself from his native Europe to seek one last chance at glory and fame in the New World. In America he managed to reinvent himself---making his background quite a bit more glamorous than it really was---but redeeming himself by his exceptional service and becoming, in a sense, the man he claimed to be.
©2008 Paul Lockhart; (P)2008 Tantor
I truly enjoyed this book. The writing flowed nicely and the narrator was quite good.
This is a standard biography of de Steuben that covers his life in great detail drawing upon a number of sources including many that are highly critical of the Barron. It was a "page turner" and the author strove to be even handed in his presentation of the sources available to him although his analysis of that evidence was heavilly slanted towards the Barron. The author's statements border on the hagiographic. This is, however, not a problem since he makes is very clear when he presents his own opinion and he includes all sources including those which are highly critical of the Barron.
That said, it was an entirely conventional biography without any very keen or deep insights. This does not stop me from giving him five stars however, because the writing is clear, the Barron has not been adequately "biographed" (is that a word?) prior to this book, and the life covers often overlooked portions of history and the American Revolution.
I can unreservedly recommend this book to anyone interested in military affairs, the Revolution, or even the enlightenment period as there are interesting lessons and insights for all of these areas contained in the Barron's life.
The Narration is very good.
Fabulously written and narrated, this was a very interesting book that did a great job of telling the story of De Steuben. One of many foreign volunteers who I think have been under appreciated for their roles in helping us gain our independence.
Great work. The book is fast-paced and well done. You understand 18th century life and culture. He helps make sense of why things were done a certain way-- for example why soldiers stood in long lines and blazed away at one another. Get the book, you will not be disappointed.
As a revolutionary war re-enactor I studied the topic of "the drill" in detail. My recreated unit was one of those retrained at Valley Forge by the Baron's efforts, so we had many other references to rely on. This book is the best popular history of the man & his impact on our Revolution. Well written/spoken.
Great intraspective listen on a character in the forging of the Unites States of America, and great quality audio.
I was always curious where steuben county in western new york came from, and this read has satisfied my curiousity but makes me want to know more about the great German American hero of the revolution.
They were all good.
It was sad towards the end, that a great american hero did not seem to get the respect he deserved other than land. That he is almost an almost forgotten hero. His glory of forging the american army into a military force and his battle glories still will stand the test of time, I think.
Being of German background, I felt a strong connection to this character. I will think of Steuben when I attend Oktoberfest from now on.
Well done. I learned a great deal about someone I knew and heard nothing about. It's a shame schools don't teach the stories of history rather than the dates of history as it is much more interesting.
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