• George Washington’s Military Genius

  • By: Dave R. Palmer
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

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George Washington’s Military Genius

By: Dave R. Palmer
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
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Publisher's Summary

George Washington’s military strategy has been called bumbling at worst and brilliant at best. So which is it? Was George Washington a strategic genius or just lucky? So asks Dave R. Palmer in George Washington’s Military Genius. An updated edition of Palmer’s earlier work, The Way of the FoxGeorge Washington’s Military Genius breaks down the American Revolution into four phases and analyzes Washington’s strategy during each.

“The British did not have to lose; the patriots did not have to triumph,” writes Palmer as he proves, beyond a doubt, that Washington’s continuously changing military tactics were deliberate, strategic responses to the various phases of the war and not the result of his lacking a plan of action.

Confronting the critics who say Washington’s battlefield success and ultimate victories were a function of luck, George Washington’s Military Genius proves once and for all that Washington deserves the title of America’s preeminent strategist.

©2012 Dave R. Palmer (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“This is military history in the grand style.” (Joseph J. Ellis, author of  His Excellency: George Washington)

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Genius

Usually, Washington is given credit for character, fortitude, determination, patriotism, and just about every virtue a chieftain needs – with the noticeable exception of military genius. But Dave R. Palmer, a long-serving officer and former superintendent of West Point, begs to differ.

His book is analytical history at its very best. After a masterful summation of military theory and practice before the Revolution, Palmer breaks down the conflict into four distinct phases, imposing an order on tumultuous events, explaining how and why those events unfolded as they did and, by examining Washington's changing approach to each of those different phases, making a strong case for his strategic insight and military brilliance. Certainly, Washington's contemporaries were less grudging than many modern historians; Palmer cites a general admiration in Europe, for example, of his lightening coups at Trenton and Princeton. Similarly, while modern authors give the Comte de Rochambeau credit for refocusing allied efforts south to Yorktown in 1781, Palmer reads the record differently, crediting Washington with that most valuable asset for any strategist, conceptual flexibility.

If you know the basic narrative of the Revolutionary War, if you won’t be confused by passing references to places like King’s Mountain without further footnotes, then this book is for you. Robertson Dean, who I usually find somewhat plodding, held my attention throughout, another testimony to the high quality of the insights and perspectives Palmer has to offer.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C
  • 01-09-19

Super intersting and informative, yet entertaining

The author lays out the facts in a way that flows well and keep the reader (or listener) involved.
The reader does a great job and I wish they would read more these style of books.

2 people found this helpful

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Washington discovered in detail

This book lays out the military strategies that George Washington employed to win the American Revolution.

1 person found this helpful

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Solid and Well Written

Palmer provides an intelligent and well developed analysis of Washington as a strategist, effectively arguing that his approach shifted at 5 distinct stages of the Revolutionary War, generally toward that most appropriate to the situation. Palmer certainly provides fair criticism of Washington's errors, notably in employing his entire force in the New York campaign, but making judicious use of original letters and documents from Washington, his commanders, and his opponents, he shows that the "Old Fox's" skill as a commander was widely recognized at the time. The author comes out in strong and consistent support for Washington's brilliance. After a number of framework chapters discussing strategy and tactics and the larger strategic options open to Britain, he really hits his stride in tracing the Commander-in-Chief's shifting strategy up to and after Yorktown. Despite being fairly brief, there is a lot of good information and and analysis here--indeed, this is the first place I have read about Nathaneal Greene's impact on Washington's strategy of fight, retreat, and fight again dating back to a letter Greene wrote him in 1776, even before the massive losses of the New York campaign. Well worth the time of students of military strategy, the founding fathers, and the Revolutionary War era.

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Absolutely Outstanding Analysis

Having read many books on the American Revolution, I have not previously read anything that not only chronicles the revolution in such a succinct manner, but also I'm a way that is easy to follow and enjoy.

Furthermore, General Palmer laid out a goal/hypothesis (that Washington had a genius for strategic thought and action), and systematically achieved/ proved that goal/hypothesis.

I strongly recommend this book not only to those interested in Washington's military genius, but also in a clear, readable account of the war for American Independence.

This is a masterful book, crafted by a soldier-historian, and worthy of a wide readership. Indeed, all citizens would benefit from reading it.

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Illuminating

The book provides a useful perspective on Washington and on the war itself. Somewhat reminiscent of "The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire," the author breaks the war down into different phases which demanded different strategies and argues that Washington correctly adapted his strategic posture to the balance of forces and the progress of the war.

Washington is often seen as a merely mediocre general, and this book provides a useful counter to that narrative. While Washington wasn't Bonaparte, I think this provides a convincing argument that his generalship, particularly his grasp of strategy and his political acumen, were instrumental in winning independence.

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  • DD
  • 01-11-22

Book never strayed from its topic!

A book well researched but told even better. The truth of Washington's primary talent-that as a Strategic general first, and focuses on this from start to finish in a well told documented effort.

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Interesting and well documented

Good perspective on Washington and the war. Reads like an expanded doctoral dissertation, but that is not a negative. As the title indicates, a very favorable view of GW through the different phases of the war.

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More than just battlefield tactics

George Washington's Military Genius, by Dave R. Palmer (2012, 7 hr 45 min audiobook). This was a refreshing relook at and reassessment of General Washington and his military leadership during the Revolutionary War. The author won me over when he took the time to describe 18th century military practices, knowledge of which are critical to understanding how and why rebel and British armies acted the way they did. Additionally, this is as much a look at the numerous internal and external political calculations made by Washington as at his battlefield or strategic decision-making. Loved it!

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Interesting military perspective

I leaned a few new things from this book. It’s good. I’ll listen to it again.