Here is an historical novel of rapid-fire movement over ground millions know well: the story of Washington and the campaigns fought with magnificent determination through Long Island, Manhattan, Westchester, and New Jersey. It is a story of American indomitability from which we take inspiration today, for here, too, initial setback after setback formed the crucibles in which were forged the final will to victory. |
Told throught the person of Washington himself, "The Unvanquished" opens with his decision, in 1776, to hold New York City, a military impossibility considering the forces at his command. During a period of several months he was smashed by one defeat after another. He himself narrowly escaped capture. Very much a gentleman, courteous, polished, Washington had little knowledge of military strategy. But he had one virtue, then unrealized -- a singleness of purpose, an amazingly dogged devotion to what he felt was his path. Out of these devastating campaigns he rescued one thing: his belief in himself and in the cause he served.
Howard Fast has proved that his is one of the outstanding talents among American novelists. Each successive book of his has won increasing critical acclaim and wider audiences. "The Last Frontier" has already been selected for a special recognition by the Readers Club. Quotations from the reviews appear on the back flap of this jacket. Carl Van Doren, who read "The Unvanquished" in proof, has authorized the statement which appears on the back of this jacket. Lean and direct, these historical novels of Howard Fast not only break a tradition; they innaugurate a new one.
Carl Van Doren writes:
"The Unvanquished is, so far as I know, the first novel ever written in which Washington is fully shown as thinking and feeling like a living man, not moving through the story like the statue of a hero. The novelists have been worse about him than the historians. Here at last is a novelist who has dared to tell his story from inside Washington's consciousness, as the events of the Revolution struck the Commander-in-chief himself, with all the uncertainties and anxieties he must have been tormented by. Here are inward truths and outward facts about Washington. This was a bold undertaking of Mr. Fast's, and it is extraordinarily successful.
"As to the general historical accuracy of the novel I have only admiration. The story is written close to ascertainable history with almost no repetition of old legends. Perhaps the episode of Howe's call on Mrs. Murray is chiefly traditional, and if it had taken place would have had less than the effect traditionally ascribed to it. But this is a small matter in comparison with the historical truth in -- for instance -- the part played by the Marblehead men, and the figure that Charles Lee cuts, and the characterizations of Hamilton and Burr and Putnam and Knox and Nathan Hale and others. Readers now know how the complex business was to come out. But the actors in it did not know that and had to live through each day in ignorance of what the next would bring. Reading The Unvanquished is the next thing to having been on the scene at the time."
from the dustjacket of the 1942 Duell, Sloan and Pearce first edition