Going into this book (Osprey Essential Histories again) with almost no idea of what actually happened was quite interesting. About all I knew was that the Americans had kicked us (British) out of their country, following the Boston Tea Party. I had a bit of an idea about the Declaration of Independence getting signed, of the states having to stand united or fall divided, and that there were pretty much guerillas v British red coats. (I lived in America for three years and went to school there, hence the basic understanding).
Reading this, I discovered that actually, I had very little idea whatsoever. And that little bit I did know was somewhat suspect. The Americans had help from the French and the Spanish (never hear them saying anything about that...). For the most part, battles were fought in the standard line formations. The Americans had problems getting men to fight. They had to pretty much force them at times, and they'd walk off as soon as their tour of duty was finished. Which kinda suggests the drive for independence wasn't all that strong. What really forced the British to depart, apparently, was the major supply problems of shipping reinforcements and food etc all the way across the Atlantic in sailing ships, and in the fact that the French and Spanish navies combined were able to pose a significant threat. The fighting occured all over the globe, not just in America. In some sense, this was a world war in its own right. The British had to fight the Spaniards and French in South America, Gibraltar, and various other locations. They feared the joint navy which they couldn't match. I guess the policy that Britain would have as many ships as the next two countries combined came from this.
Very interesting. And for all of you who believe the sort of traditional view (which I would guess is most people), it's well worth reading to get a good idea of what really happened. An excellent brief overview, as per usual. And it's from a reliable name, which is a definite bonus. No ridiculous typos in this book. And pictures--always a nice addition to a history book, so that you get an idea of what things looked like for real.