I mentioned yesterday that I'm reading David McCullough's newest book 1776 and The Washington Times carries a short interview with him. It's interesting to read a book focused just on one year in the American Revolution. McCullough explains why he chose that year:
"[The year] 1776 is the most important year in the most important conflict in our history. It's a year in which both character and circumstance play decisive roles interweaving themselves."
The book features lesser-known key figures in the war - citizen soldiers, with no formal training, whose wisdom and native skill were essential in the outcome. McCullough points out, and it's very clear in the book, that the result of the war was by no means foreseeable and many times the superior British forces seemed sure to be the conquerors of the rebels. General Washington was not a skilled military leader and it's the very human and real portrait of him that I enjoy in the book. His frailties only serve to magnify his great qualities that made him a man nearly everyone respected and naturally followed.
Looking back on history is often like looking at something on the horizon - we see that outlines and large features. But McCullough's books give us the opportunity to observe close-up, to live among the people whose vision and sacrifices paved our way. It's fascinating to learn about the everyday men, who practiced virtue, and who God was able to use to accomplish things beyond their own capabilities. And I find that very encouraging.