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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it’s a great listen: If you ever thought history was boring, David McCullough’s performance of his fascinating book will change your mind. In this stirring audiobook, McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success. 

Publisher's Summary

In this stirring audiobook, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.  

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats, who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost: Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.

The darkest hours of that tumultuous year were as dark as any Americans have known. Especially in our own tumultuous time, 1776 is powerful testimony to how much is owed to a rare few in that brave founding epoch, and what a miracle it was that things turned out as they did.

Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough's 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.

©2005 David McCullough (P)2005 Simon and Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon and Schuster Audio Division, Simon and Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Narration by the Author
  • 2005 Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, Nonfiction

"A first-rate historical account." (Booklist)

"A narrative tour de force, exhibiting all the hallmarks the author is known for: fascinating subject matter, expert research, and detailed, graceful prose.... Simply put, this is history writing at its best from one of its top practitioners." (Publishers Weekly)

"A stirring and timely work, reminding us that it's soldiers rather than 'tavern patriots and windy politicians' who have always paid the price of American idealism and determined its successes. (The New York Times

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Olympia, WA, USA
  • 10-22-05

Front Seat on History

1776 was the first Audible book I have ever purchased and it raises the bar upon which all other books will be compared. It's special to have the Pulitzer Prize author read his own book. Having grown up outside Boston, our history classes only covered the more famous events - Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and Bunker Hill.

I never knew about George Washington's siege of Boston (and I lived there) that drove out the British or the horrendous conditions of the continental army. I was never taught about the importance of New York or the loss after loss of battles. McCullough covers the heroes, villians, and traitors in exquisite detail. Did you know that the first American traitor was the Continental Army Surgeon General or that wives, fighting next to their husbands, distinguished themselves in battle?

David McCullough's 1776 puts you right there - like a time machine. He masterfully tells a story and painstakingly reinforces its authenticity with letters from the people who were there. This is one of the finest historical novels I have ever "read" and I look forward to his John Adams books. There is little doubt that I will have to listen to it again... Now I know where the name Fort Knox came from.

64 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Shawn
  • Elizabethtown, PA, USA
  • 05-30-05

Great Book

After hearing David McCullough for so long on narratives on TV, who cannot doubt that he has one of the best voices around. His voice reads first class material, self authored. 1776 chronicles the events on the North American continent of one of the most important years in the last millenium. It begins just after Lexington/Concord and carries through the significance of Trenton/Princeton.

Listening to it, I gathered a great sense about the particular acts, which severed the already fragile relationship of the English America with the mother country. The character of the two countries, still recognizable today, comes across in the story of the military and political contests of that year.

It is delightful and well worth the time listening.

69 of 73 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing how little you know

The story is compelling (of course) and the author brings to life the period in perfect detail. There's lots of detail that anyone inclined to like history would enjoy. This is a great opportunity to appreciate what these men did and how important the fundamental values established by the founders. As I listened, I was amazed either how much history I forgot or was never taught.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Journey of great peril, heroism, and growth

First, I have to say that the description of the crossing of the Delaware had me so excited that I was short of breath. I had the painting on the subject firmly in my mind and was thrilled to be hearing the retelling.

As the book contains excellent lessons in strength in leadership, I was enthralled as it wound its way through the evolution of General Washington and his counsel. And it shows the great importance of surrounding yourself with great people but making strong and final decisions.

And I came away from the book incredibly proud to be an American. The sacrifices and hardships described in this book give me great reason to stand with my head high.

I'll finish by summarizing my thoughts in two words: "Get it!"

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The American Revolution Made Real

David McCullough brilliantly illuminates one year in the struggle of our nation's first army under the command of the man who, deservedly, became our first President. George Washington, (as well as the men who served under him), is revealed by McCullough to be a flawed human being who made plenty of mistakes, some of which could have cost this country its independence. Impatient and, at times, overcome with anger, he is also shown to have been wise and calculating, in his dealings with and estimation of, the British commanders he had to outwit, as well as some of the generals who advised him. The American Revolution should have been this colorfully rendered and detailed in the history texts used when I was in grade school. McCullough is a brilliant historian and writer who makes his subjects as real as if they were alive today. There were times where, in listening to this audiobook, I found myself wondering ahead how Washington and the increasingly dwindling, ragtag army that he commanded would ever be able to overcome the overwhelming odds against them. Of course, I knew they did eventually prevail in the struggle to win the Revolutionary War, but McCullough writes in such a way as to keep you guessing. He makes the subject accessible, alive, interesting and even thrilling, too.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

It tantalized my taste buds

Just spent the whole of my Sunday learning the American History from the declaration of independence right through to the abolition of slavery by President Lincoln(and of course the American Civil war)...and I am no American! This book, although focusing on the events leading to the declaration of independent, offers a lot of insight into the operations of the old British Empire and why America is what it is today.

The template of history can and should be applied today. A lesson perhaps, to our leaders.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

1776 Brings Period To Life

I generally grab a book on tape for long driving trips
to make the time slide by...historical books rarely fit
the bill for long all night drives.

McCoullough's book and narration proved the exception, I
had a great time with the nearly 12 hours. He weaves 1st
hand accounts deftly into a compelling story of the
desperation of the 1st year of the revolutionary war.

I must confess an interest in history, but even those not
disposed to historical accounts will find his artful use
of the characters own words to paint rich character portraits
enjoyable. He has a keen eye for understated humor which
I found particularly enjoyable.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • bartlesville, OK, USA
  • 06-09-05

Can't quit talking about 1776

I am definitely a "sneezer" when it comes to 1776. I can not quit talking about this book and about what this history means to me. If you wnat a lesson on perseverance, this is the right book!David McCullough brings the Revolutionary War right in your living room. The way McCullough writes, you feel as though you have been placed right in the middle of everything that was going on in 1776. GET THIS BOOK!!!!!!

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Succinct account of 1776

I read Washington's Crossing before reading 1776. 1776 reads like an Abridged version of Washington's Crossing. A solid read about a critical period of this country's history. For those looking for a general overview of the time period this book is perfect. For those looking for a detailed account of the period I would suggest Washington's Crossing as well. There were some interesting details that 1776 included that I didn't get in Washington's Crossing. Perhaps the most interesting was Washington's meeting with the British 2nd in command shortly before the start of the New York campaign. I surely wish I could have been present at that meeting. Hearing the account in the book, you feel like the air could have been cut with a knife.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't even need to like history

This is a wonderful book. 1776 was an amazing year and the author captures the events and action with so much detail that its like he was there. I learned a lot about the revolutionary war - things I would have never learned in school. One thing that I found particularly interesting was how there were so many coincidences leading to wins or gains for the continental army. It was amazing how many times things looked like they were just about done for Washington's army only to see them turn around (sometimes overnight). I think that 1776 surprised everyone - including Washington himself. It was a great lesson in never giving up! Great read and I highly recommend for anyone - not just history buffs.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tom
  • 04-29-09

Absorbing and well narrated

David Mccullough is a fine popular historian; his books are always enjoyable and informative. He has a knack of combining the big picture with the stories and experiences of those who were going though it at the time, and weaving it all into a tremendous narrative. The book focuses on the first year of the American revolution - not the whole history - and paints a vivid and absorbing picture of just how close things came to disaster for Washington and his rather raggle-taggle army,and how they dug themselves out of the mire - stirring stuff.

My only bugbear - and it's nothing to do with the book itself - is that it is frustrating sometimes listening to history books where the content is to do with military exploits, and that is one wishes for a map! I am not all that familiar with american geography so kept rushing to an atlas so that I could better keep track of what was going on. But dont let this put you off what is a fine and enjoyable book - very well narrated by the author himself.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful