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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Winning Independence by John Ferling, read by Rhett Samuel Price.

From celebrated historian John Ferling, the underexplored history of the second half of the Revolutionary War, when, after years of ­fighting, American independence often seemed beyond reach.

It was 1778, and the recent American victory at Saratoga had netted the US a powerful ally in France. Many, including General George Washington, presumed France’s entrance into the war meant independence was just around the corner.

Meanwhile, having lost an entire army at Saratoga, Great Britain pivoted to a 'southern strategy'. The army would henceforth seek to regain its southern colonies, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, a highly profitable segment of its prewar American empire. Deep into 1780 Britain’s new approach seemed headed for success as the US economy collapsed and morale on the home front waned. By early 1781, Washington and others feared that France would drop out of the war if the Allies failed to score a decisive victory that year. Sir Henry Clinton, commander of Britain’s army, thought 'the rebellion is near its end'. Washington, who had been so optimistic in 1778, despaired: 'I have almost ceased to hope'.

Winning Independence is the dramatic story of how and why Great Britain - so close to regaining several southern colonies and rendering the postwar United States a fatally weak nation ultimately failed to win the war. The book explores the choices and decisions made by Clinton and Washington and others that ultimately led the French and American allies to clinch the pivotal victory at Yorktown that at long last secured American independence.

©2021 John Ferling (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Writing with his usual verve and imagination, Ferling demonstrates that the second half of the Revolutionary War possessed as much pathos, drama, and intrigue as the first part of the conflict. Winning Independence will undoubtedly appeal to both scholars and the general public. It's political and military history at its finest." (Stephen R. Taaffe, author of Washington's Revolutionary War Generals)

"A mesmerizing historical adventure. Focusing on the southern campaigns of 1778-1781, Ferling luminously unravels the story of how the American colonists finally beat the odds and gained their independence from Great Britain. Certainly one of the most engaging books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in years." (James Kirby Martin, author of the award-winning Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero)

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  • Aldy
  • 10-06-2021


Fascinating, crisply laid out analysis and very easy to follow. It’s a wonder the rebels ever succeeded, and this books lays out all of the twists and turns leading up to and including Yorktown.

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  • John
  • 09-09-2021

Informative Book—Terrible Narrator

The book provides good coverage of the war as a whole, with major focus on events post-Saratoga. Ferling laid out an interesting framework for the book at the outset, but failed to explain how that framework played out as he described the events. He would explain events but did not summarize how these events fit the framework as he went along.
Rhett Samuel Price made the book difficult to listen to because of his constant and frequent mispronunciations. Apart from the partially excusable problems with French names, he often mispronounced common English words (e.g., “sow” for “sew”). I found my listening was distracted by such mispronunciations. I am amazed that the producers of this book’s narration let it become public.

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  • Kenneth M.
  • 26-07-2021

Conflicted verdict

I really struggled with this book. I thought overall from a history point of view is was pretty good. The narrator made it hard to listen to at times. The delivery was flat and very monotone and his way of pronouncing things was jarring. The author often got in his way with his love of language. This is a narrative history not some period piece novel. Alliterative descriptions are okay when used sparingly but they we very much over used in this work. I could probably recommend the book to someone to read however I wouldn't recommend the audible version.

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