• Valcour

  • The 1776 Campaign that Saved the Cause of Liberty
  • By: Jack Kelly
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

During the summer of 1776, a British incursion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the newly independent nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British and forced the enemy to call off their invasion. 

Jack Kelly's Valcour is a story of people. The northern campaign of 1776 was led by the underrated general Philip Schuyler (Hamilton's father-in-law), the ambitious former British officer Horatio Gates, and the notorious Benedict Arnold. An experienced sea captain, Arnold devised a brilliant strategy that confounded his slow-witted opponents.

America's independence hung in the balance during 1776. Patriots endured one defeat after another. But two events turned the tide: Washington's bold attack on Trenton and the equally audacious fight at Valcour Island. Together, they stunned the enemy and helped preserve the cause of liberty.

©2021 Jack Kelly (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Valcour

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well written, well read story

I(n my early teens, I read "Rabble in Arms" by Kenneth Roberts, and this book starts with a scene from that book: Arnold shooting his horse as he is the American soldier to leave Canada. I confess that Kelly plays to my prejudices about Benedict Arnold that I derived from Roberts' writing. Kelly even indicts the same troika that Roberts does: Hazen, Easton, and Brown. But, as a good historian should, Kelly condemns Arnold for his later, traitorous conduct. Kelly gives the most even-handed treatment that I have seen of Philip Schuyler, Horatio Gates, and Benedict Arnold, giving credit where it is due and criticism where it is warranted. Arnold was not the only vainglorious man of the time as other officers provoked duels (Lachlan McIntosh, a general from Georgia, mortally wounded Button Gwinnett, a member of the Continental Congress from Georgia, in an "affair of hon.
The story of Valcour, before, during, and after, is done intelligently, and should be a reminder that Revolutionary history is not just Trenton, Saratoga, and Yorktown. Kelly reminds us of the costs that some Patriots (not the "sunshine patriots"!) paid.
I heartily endorse this book, but I do have two quibbles. Kelly talks of Champlain's battle with the Mohawks and calls the Iroquois the 'six' nations. In 1608, there were only five, with the Tuscaroras joining circa 1715 after being evicted from their North Carolina homeland by settlers. I am tired of the PR device labelling books "the rearguard action that saved America" which is attached to Venter's book on Hubbardton (a continuation of this acmpaign) or "the Campaign that Saved the Cause of Liberty" attached to this book.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book about a forgotten battle

Loved the reading, and build up to the battle.
-great description
- accurate details
- good descriptions of some of the Revolutionary Wars forgotten and misunderstood heroes.

1 person found this helpful

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Great detailed account of key revolutionary battle

I read several books about the War of Independence. In terms of facts there’s nothing née in this book BUT I still learned a lot because of the masterful way the author makes you feel you’re right there. His description of what it was like to fight a naval battle I. The 18th century is worth the listen in itself. Also, made me reconsider Benedict Arnold, appreciate the light and not only see the shadow. Highly recommended, listened to it on a long weekend, hard to “put it down”

1 person found this helpful

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Great History

A book that will hold your attention, outstanding history. The book may even temper your perceptions of some historical actors in the founding of our nation.

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Exceptional Historical information

One of the best historical summaries of a part of the revolution rarely mentioned in histories. Personalities and details fantastic and never mere boring fact recital. Cogent and relevant summaries of importance of decisions and actions

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Cannon fodder

A great examination of a very interesting part of American history. Does a great job explaining the influence of Benedict Arnold.

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Have a Map When Listening

See how Lake Champlaine could become a dagger thrust into the New York heartland and you will appreciate the importance of keeping it out of enemy hands. In a time of poorly developed roads, waterways were superhighways... and efficient paths for invasion and logistic support. This work does a good job of clarifying the capabilities and limitations of ships and cannons abailable in 1776.

Too bad the rebels didnt have catamarans-- they would have sailed high speed circles around the best British battleship and been much harder targets to hit.

As for the British, they went on to brutalize India, Ireland, and other countries, but worst of all their own working men who were not Baron von Munchausen, Lord of Flies, Count of Monte Crisco, Duke of Earl, or other titled aristocracy (a problem the French solved temporarily in 1789-1793).

Dinged the otherwise excellent narrator a point for more than one reference to the year 1977 instead of 1777.

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Highly recommend

Loved the book. My only suggestion is that the narrator learn the difference between 1776-1777 and the 1976-1977 that he repeatedly referred to.