*The Last King of America*

This biography of King George III is a new and excellent book by Andrew Roberts, who also wrote a great biography of Napoleon. The subtitle of this one is The Misunderstood Reign of George III, and here is one excerpt:

The war was not unwinnable for the British, but they helped to make it so by refusing to change their basic military doctrine and almost anything fundamental at home, in terms of finances, commercial arrangements, conscription and tax levels.  Had Germain possessed the concentration of powers that William Pitt had enjoyed during the Seven Years War, he might have imposed his will on the whole governmental structure, but an overdevolving of competencies between ministries was rife for the first two years of the struggle.  Until 1777, for example, the responsibility for transporting men and their supplies across the Atlantic was divided between the Ordnance Board (responsible for artillery, engineers, guns and gun powder), the Navy Board (men, horses, uniforms, tents, medicine and camp equipment) and the Victualling Board (food), the Treasury being responsible for all other supplies.  This inevitably led to vast amounts of bureaucracy; Germain and Barrington even corresponded over the selection of a single doctor for Howe’s command.  This Whitehall system of waging war had been successful in the Seven Years War at a distance of over 3,000 miles across the ocean, but this was to be much harder without a single leader like Pitt; indeed it has been described as ‘an effort without parallel in the history of the world.’

I found this book especially good for giving the reader a realistic sense of the American Revolution from the British perspective.


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