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John Koopman III Author Of George Washington at War - 1776
By John Koopman III

Who am I?

I have been interested in history and in particular military history for my entire life. Since 2006 I have been a George Washington interpreter. I portray the great man in first person live presentations and in documentary film. I have devoted a great deal of time in study of him. As a result of my studies of Washington, I felt compelled to write a book about him. I wanted to capture aspects of him not covered in most books or in film. Four of the books I reviewed involve George Washington.

I wrote...

George Washington at War - 1776

By John Koopman III,

Book cover of George Washington at War - 1776

What is my book about?

A fast paced, action packed, historical novel on the early campaigns of the American Revolution. The “Siege of Boston” and the “Battle of Harlem Heights” will be given a fresh and exciting look. Learn new insights about the character of George Washington. As horses were key to the time period, the reader will learn much about them.

Follow the exploits of three groups of Continental soldiers in Washington’s Army. The Abbot Brothers of Andover, Massachusetts, who join up to avenge the death of their older brother who was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill. Sergeant Justus Bellamy of Cheshire, Connecticut, provides bold leadership to the men of his company. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton of Ashford, Connecticut, leads his Rangers on dangerous missions.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny

Why did I love this book?

Victor Davis Hanson, a PhD classics professor and historian, puts forth a fascinating account of three military leaders who brought an end to powers who held people in bondage. Which three? 

Epaminondas broke the power of Sparta by freeing the Helots. The Spartans held the Helots in slavery to do all the farming so they could focus on military training. Epaminondas not only defeated the Spartans in battle, but he also brought an end to the slavery that empowered them.

William Tecumseh Sherman, in his famous march to the sea, broke the Confederacy. When all seemed lost for Lincoln, word came like a thunderbolt from Sherman that, “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.” Shermans Army of the West proved that the South could be defeated. This bringing an end to slavery.   

George Patton, “…you will continue your victorious course to end that tyranny…” Hanson speculates that the war could have been over in the fall of 1944 if Patton had been allowed to continue into Germany. Hundreds of thousands could have been saved from the gas chambers.

Hanson expertly covers these three fascinating leaders from different time periods. All tactical geniuses that brought innovation to the battlefield. But what made them unique was that it was not only victory that they brought, but freedom to oppressed peoples.

By Victor Davis Hanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of Battle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victor David Hanson, author of the highly regarded classic The Western Way of War, presents an audacious and controversial theory of what contributes to the success of military campaigns.

Examining in riveting detail the campaigns of three brilliant generals who led largely untrained forces to victory over tyrannical enemies, Hanson shows how the moral confidence with which these generals imbued their troops may have been as significant as any military strategy they utilized. Theban general Epaminondas marched an army of farmers two hundred miles to defeat their Spartan overlords and forever change the complexion of Ancient Greece. William Tecumseh Sherman…

Book cover of The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret: George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon

Why did I love this book?

Mount Vernon research historian Mary V. Thompson has written what will become the definitive book on slavery at George Washington's home. The book puts you in the place of an enslaved person, what their daily life was like. Throughout his life Washington struggled with slavery, he wanted it to end. Finally in his will, he freed his slaves. Sending a message to the country that slavery must end. There were those who were angered by this action, documented in the book. One contemporary said it was “the…worst act of his public life.” There were former slaves that thought differently. Over thirty years after Washington’s death eleven African American men were observed making repairs to Washington’s tomb. When asked about it by a visitor to Mount Vernon, it was discovered that they were former slaves of Washington freed in his will. They had volunteered their time for the memory of a man “who had been more than a father to them.”

Mary Thompson does not pull any punches. She gives a very balanced view of slavery at Mount Vernon. The harsh realities are covered, as well as little-known facts. Slaves did earn money in different ways, raised their own animals, some hunted game with firearms. There are extensive tables in the appendix listing the names of slaves. A must-read book for those who want to understand slavery in the period.

By Mary V. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

George Washington's life has been scrutinized by historians over the past three centuries, but the day-to-day lives of Mount Vernon's enslaved workers, who left few written records but made up 90 percent of the estate's population, have been largely left out of the story.

In ""The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,"" Mary Thompson offers the first comprehensive account of those who served in bondage at Mount Vernon. Drawing on years of research in a wide range of sources, Thompson brings to life the lives of Washington's slaves while illuminating the radical change in his views on slavery and race wrought…

Book cover of George Washington: A Life in Books

Why did I love this book?

In Kevin J. Hayes's book, we learn what Washington's reading habits were. For instance, it is known that he read the classic Gulliver’s Travels. How could that be known you might ask? Hayes got access to the original books in Washington’s library. He found a pattern. Looking through the books page by page he found editorial marks and corrections. Washington was a natural editor. Looking through Gulliver’s Travels Hayes found the tell-tale editorial marks, therefor he knew Washington had read it.

It is known from Washington’s writings that he owned many military textbooks. During the Revolution he asked the man managing Mount Vernon to inventory the books in the library. None of the military books were listed, therefor Washington traveled with them in the campaign.

Not surprisingly there are many books on agriculture. But one of the things I found of interest was that his favorite type of leisure reading was travel books. These were popular in the 18th century, a chance to visit exotic places without going there. The book by Hayes gives an interesting insight into how the father of our country thought by what he read.  

By Kevin J. Hayes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked George Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When it comes to the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton are generally considered the great minds of early America. George Washington, instead, is toasted with accolades regarding his solid common sense and strength in battle. Indeed, John Adams once snobbishly dismissed him as "too illiterate, unlearned, unread for his station and reputation." Yet Adams, as well as the majority of the men who knew Washington in his life,
were unaware of his singular devotion to self-improvement.

Based on a comprehensive amount of research at the Library of Congress, the collections at Mount Vernon, and rare book…

Book cover of General George Washington: A Military Life

Why did I love this book?

Washington historian Edward G. Lengel's book focuses only on his life in the military. George Washington begins his military career at age 21 in 1753 with the colonial rank of Major. He was sent by the governor of Virginia to deliver a letter to the French commander of a fort that was on property contested by the King of England. Washington and a small party traveled the wilds of the Ohio Country, modern-day western Pennsylvania. In this epic journey, young Washington almost loses his life twice. Washington is later involved in the first skirmish of the French and Indian War. A great emphasis in the book is of course his time as General in the American Revolution.  

The final chapter is critical. Lengel rates Washington's abilities as a commander. Time and time again, British General Howe defeats him in battle with a surprise flank attack. But Washington always found a way out to fight another day. Many accused Washington of indecisiveness. One of his strengths was bravery in battle. To quote Lengel, “On hearing gunfire and experiencing the adrenaline surge that came with it, Washington typically ceased equivocating and acted with aplomb.”  For the military history buff, this book is a must-read. 

By Edward G. Lengel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked General George Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The most comprehensive and authoritative study of Washington’s military career ever written.”
–Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington

Based largely on George Washington’s personal papers, this engrossing book paints a vivid, factual portrait of Washington the soldier. An expert in military history, Edward Lengel demonstrates that the “secret” to Washington’s excellence lay in his completeness, in how he united the military, political, and personal skills necessary to lead a nation in war and peace. Despite being an “imperfect commander”–and at times even a tactically suspect one–Washington nevertheless possessed the requisite combination of vision, integrity, talents, and good…

Washington: A Life

By Ron Chernow,

Book cover of Washington: A Life

Why did I love this book?

I find Ron Chernow’s biography to be the most informative and comprehensive. It is quite a tome at over 800 pages, but worth the read. Chernow has fascinating insights into his character. Washington had a temper that he sought to control. Even in that, he made an impression on people. From the introduction of the book, “His contemporaries admired him not because he was a plaster saint or an empty uniform but because they sensed his unseen power.”

We see Washington develop over his life from early childhood. The loss of his father at age eleven brought him closer to his brother Lawrence, fourteen years his senior. Lawrence became a father figure to him.

After service in the French and Indian War, Washington married Martha Custis. There was true love in the marriage. She spent every winter with him throughout the eight years of the Revolution. She came with two children from her first marriage. Washington treated them as if they were his own.

As we follow Washington’s career: planter, soldier, statesman, we learn about him from many angles. Insights from friends, family members, fellow soldiers, and politicians, reveal his personality to the reader. In the closing chapter Chernow sums up Washington's greatness: “George Washington possessed the gift of inspired simplicity, a clarity and purity of vision that never failed him.”   

By Ron Chernow,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The celebrated Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of America. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life, he carries the reader through Washington's troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian Wars, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention and his magnificent performance as America's first president.

Despite the reverence his name inspires Washington remains a waxwork to many readers, worthy but dull, a laconic man of remarkable self-control. But in this groundbreaking work Chernow revises forever the uninspiring…

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