Brothers at arms American independence and the men of France and Spain who saved it

Larrie D. Ferreiro

Book - 2016

"The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military and financial assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against Great Britain"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2016.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxv, 429 pages : maps, portraits ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [339]-412) and index.
ISBN
9781101875247
1101875240
Main Author
Larrie D. Ferreiro (author)
  • Not just the Declaration of Independence but also a declaration that we depend on France (and Spain, too)
  • The road to war
  • The merchants
  • The ministers
  • The soldiers
  • The sailors
  • The pieces converge
  • The endgame
  • The road to peace
  • The legacy.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Historian Ferreiro examines the assistance provided by France and Spain during the American War of Independence and weighs its effects on campaigns and battles. Their aid was hardly motivated by the lofty principles of the Declaration of Independence; it emanated, as Ferreiro shows, from France and Spain's desire to avenge their defeats by Britain 15 years previously in the Seven Years' War. After describing the political calculations of the royal courts in Paris and Madrid, Ferreiro provides shipment-to-shipment detail of arms, money, and men that flowed across the Atlantic Ocean at first surreptitiously, then overtly with the Franco-American alliance of 1778. A mark of Ferreiro's thorough research, this information becomes enlivened with his recounting of numerous European military officers who received commissions in the Continental Army. Many more than the few later memorialized in place names—DeKalb, Lafayette, Pulaski—this cadre provided the Americans with important expertise in fortifications and artillery. But it was the French navy, argues Ferreiro, that proved crucial to victory. Important as scholarship, Ferreiro's history is also eminently fluid for all readers interested in the U.S.' beginnings. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Most histories of America's War for Independence acknowledge the crucial role played by the French navy and, to a lesser degree, French troops in defeating the British at Yorktown, but they largely ignore other equally important contributions of France and its ally Spain to the nascent United States. This is the first study to identify and assess the combined impact of the military, naval, and economic assistance rendered to the US by its coalition partners. Ferreiro (George Mason Univ.) has delved deeply into both primary and secondary sources to determine the quantity of arms, gunpowder, and other items supplied and, equally important, the ways in which they were delivered to the Americans. All readers will enjoy the well-chosen anecdotes, telling portraits of leading individuals, deft guidance through the maze of diplomatic negotiations, and vivid descriptions of military and naval engagements that together support the thesis alluded to in the subtitle; i.e., that without the assistance of France and Spain, the Americans could not have defeated Britain and secured their independence. Ferreiro adds a valuable alternative to the narrow American or British perspectives of most of the histories of the American War for Independence. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.--J. C. Bradford, Texas A&M UniversityJames C. BradfordTexas A&M University James C. Bradford Choice Reviews 54:09 May 2017 Copyright 2017 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Ferreiro (history, George Mason Univ.; Measure of the Earth) presents the American Revolution in a global context, detailing the many Europeans who played critical roles in American Independence, delving into the histories of the players whose decisive actions gave George Washington the men, material, and ships necessary to wrestle the colonies from Britain. Readers will discover important figures such as French minister Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes, and admiral Charles Hector, Comte d'Estaing, as well as Spanish commander Bernardo de Galvez. Ferreiro also discusses the intricate Atlantic supply chains that fed the U.S. army, as well as critical naval technology and tactics like copper plating. The text describes the motivations of numerous French and Spanish ministers, traders, sailors, and soldiers, unveiling many underappreciated actions, including the Spanish seizure of British Pensacola, the chess match in the Caribbean islands, and the cat-and-mouse game between the French and British fleets. VERDICT This work is scholarly and heavily researched, a denser read than David McCullough's 1776, providing much information from an often neglected perspective. Even seasoned American history readers will likely find new content on a pivotal era.—Jeffrey Meyer, Mt. Pleasant P.L., IA. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against England. In this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a militia bereft even of gunpowder. In his detailed accounts Ferreiro shows that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded. France and Spain provided close to the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans, and they sent soldiers and sailors by the thousands to fight and die alongside the Americans, as well as around the world. Ferreiro adds to the historical records the names of French and Spanish diplomats, merchants, soldiers, and sailors whose contribution is at last given recognition. Instead of viewing the American Revolution in isolation, Brothers at Arms reveals the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Reveals how the military and financial support of the French and Spanish paved the way for the American Revolution, and how without their support the rebellion would have failed before it started.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Traces the lesser-known story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance from France and Spain, placing the war against a backdrop of global strategic interests of nations in conflict with England.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"The remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military and financial assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against Great Britain"--

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Pulitzer Prize Finalist in HistoryWinner of the Journal of the American Revolution 2016 Book of the Year AwardThe remarkable untold story of how the American Revolution's success depended on substantial military assistance provided by France and Spain, and places the Revolution in the context of the global strategic interests of those nations in their fight against England.  In this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a militia bereft even of gunpowder. In his detailed accounts Ferreiro shows that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded. France and Spain provided close to the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans, and they sent soldiers and sailors by the thousands to fight and die alongside the Americans, as well as around the world.      Ferreiro adds to the historical records the names of French and Spanish diplomats, merchants, soldiers, and sailors whose contribution is at last given recognition. Instead of viewing the American Revolution in isolation, Brothers at Arms reveals the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy.