This was indeed an honor to speak with Gen. Dave Palmer, former Superintendent of West Point and author of a fantastic book, George Washington: Military Genius
Palmer, historian and former superintendent of West Point, makes a convincing case that America is free, united, and governed by civilians because of Washington’s strategic foresight and tactical brilliance. No subsequent revolution in a dozen other nations ended so happily. Palmer pooh-poohs historians who describe Washington as a commander of limited ability who won by not losing, i.e., avoiding battles until the British grew tired of the struggle. Reviewing his generalship, Palmer maintains that Washington was aggressive and imaginative, willing to take risks but always aware of his ultimate goal. Palmer reminds readers that the Continental Congress launched the revolution beautifully but managed it dreadfully, growing increasingly faction ridden and ineffectual as the economy slid toward ruin. Washington remained loyal—perhaps his most impressive accomplishment—by keeping a restive army under control and quashing a rebellion among officers. This is a relentlessly admiring portrait, but Palmer has a critical historian’s eye for 18th-century war and politics, avoids uncritical worship of our founding fathers, and enjoys the advantage of a subject who was genuinely admirable. Maps.
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