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In the Hurricane's Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Hurricane's Eye

by Nathaniel Philbrick

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Quick take

The heroic tale of a gritty general named George Washington and the epic battle that won the Revolutionary War.

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In the fall of 1780, after five frustrating years of war, George Washington had come to realize that the only way to defeat the British Empire was with the help of the French navy. But as he had learned after two years of trying, coordinating his army's movements with those of a fleet of warships based thousands of miles away was next to impossible. And then, on September 5, 1781, the impossible happened. Recognized today as one of the most important naval engagements in the history of the world, the Battle of the Chesapeake—fought without a single American ship—made the subsequent victory of the Americans at Yorktown a virtual inevitability.

In a narrative that moves from Washington's headquarters on the Hudson River, to the wooded hillside in North Carolina where Nathanael Greene fought Lord Cornwallis to a vicious draw, to Lafayette's brilliant series of maneuvers across Tidewater Virginia, Philbrick details the epic and suspenseful year through to its triumphant conclusion. A riveting and wide-ranging story, full of dramatic, unexpected turns, In the Hurricane's Eye reveals that the fate of the American Revolution depended, in the end, on Washington and the sea.

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In the Hurricane's Eye


The Land and the Sea

For five years, two armies had clashed along the edge of a vast continent. One side, the Rebels, had the advantage of the land. Even when they lost a battle, which happened more often than not, they could retire into the countryside and wait for the next chance to attack.

The other side, the Empire, had the advantage of the sea. With its fleet of powerful warships (just one of which mounted more cannons than the entire Rebel army possessed in the early years of the war), it could attack the Rebels’ seaside cities at will.

But no matter how many coastal towns the Empire might take, it did not have enough soldiers to occupy all the Rebels’ territory. And without a significant navy of their own, the Rebels could never inflict the blow that would win them their independence. The war had devolved into a stalemate, with the Empire hoping the Rebels’ rickety government would soon collapse, and with the Rebels hoping for the miraculous intervention of a powerful ally.

Two years before, one of the Empire’s perennial enemies, the Rival nation, had joined the war on the Rebels’ behalf. Almost immediately the Rival had sent out its own fleet of warships. But then the sea had intervened.

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Why I love it

Years before landing the best job in the world—a.k.a. reading books for a living, a.k.a. Editorial Director at BOTM ;)—I was a middle school social studies teacher. Researching lessons was the best part; from Ancient Egypt to the Atomic Age, I was a sponge for it all. So when this Revolutionary War book landed on my desk, I welcomed the chance to nerd out. If you can relate, then good news! This might just be the read for you.

Everyone knows that George Washington won the Revolutionary War. But in Hurricane, master storyteller Nathaniel Philbrick recounts the little-known tale of how he teamed up with France’s navy to end it for good. Centuries before sonar and cell phones, this was no small feat; wars were won and lost by coordinating troops that were hundreds of miles apart. Yet somehow, against all odds, Washington managed to do just that, and the rest is history. This book tells that fascinating story.

If your eyes glazed over reading the above paragraph, you should definitely not choose this book. It’s military history, after all—not everyone’s cup of tea. That being said, it’s a remarkably character-driven story (picture curmudgeonly Washington verbally sparring with salty Lafayette and you’ll have a sense of the spirit that Philbrick conjures). If you’re seeking an informative and lively drama on the high seas, Hurricane will not disappoint.

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Member ratings (1,356)

  • Brittany O.

    FPO, AA

    A fascinating look into the revolution and so well written! I’m not that into military history, but I think the author could make anything interesting. I will definitely check out more of his books!

  • Alex C.

    Chapel Hill, NC

    As a huge American history and Revolutionary War nerd, I was excited to dive into this book, and it did not disappoint. A heavy read but an incredible one that grants new perspective to this conflict.

  • Alex W.

    New York, NY

    Philbrick connects a story of coincidence, luck, and perseverance which inevitably saw the Colonies and its Allies win the Revolutionary War. I brisk page turner, you'll be captivated from the start.

  • Janice M.

    Las Vegas, NV

    I have read the trilogy from Nathaniel Philbrick. I am a huge history buff, so I loved all 3 books. So many insights into the Minute Men and the horrendous conditions in which they fought & GW as well

  • Emily J.

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Such a well-researched and interesting read. Learned so much about how the US really achieved its independence. Appreciated how Phil. displayed the main actors as real people, not mythical legends.

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