As a young history buff, I remember well wearing out the pages of the original A Battlefield Atlas of American Revolution by Craig Symonds. Though I have no idea where that well worn out book is today, I am happy to see that Symonds has revised and re-released his encompassing atlas, published by Savas Beatie Publishing.
Symonds, using his experience as a lifelong teacher, approaches the war from the viewpoint of an educator. Breaking the war into four parts chronologically, Symonds provides a short narrative at the beginning of each section giving an overview of the action in each region and year. The battle descriptions for each map are thorough and give a great account of the action and the impact each event had on the overall campaign or war effort.
Symonds should be commended for covering lesser known campaigns and battles of the American Revolution such as Valcour Island, Fort Stanwix, Oriskany, Newport, Penobscot Bay and others. This enhances the work as it shows where these battles took place and speaks to the depth that Symonds took to comb the entire continent to include these minor yet important engagements in the atlas. For many readers, this will be the first time these actions have been visualized through maps.
As in his previous work, cartographer William Clipson provides easy to read and clear maps. The maps provide a good mix of detail and broadness to appeal to the casual history buff and dedicated researcher. As in his other atlases, the text flows well with the map as Symonds has numbers in the text that relate to specific parts of the map.
Though I enjoyed this book, there are two critiques of this volume. First, the size of the text which is very small and condensed. The font style and size selected could prove to be hard for some people to read. Secondly, a few of the maps have been cropped to the point where parts of the maps and text have been cut off, making them incomplete.
This book is a great addition to any library or better yet, in the glove box of your car as you visit these battlefields. It is a perfect companion in the field that allows one to understand the action and provides just enough of an overview to fill in for those battlefields that do not have any signage or interpretation. The information is detailed enough to give you a clear understanding of the battle and campaigns and the maps provide a great visualization of the action.
One thought on “Book Review: A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution by Craig L. Symonds”
I love all things history, and this sounds like it needs to be in my library! Great post!