Books: Why Britain Lost

PRIVATE YANKEE DOODLE (305 pp.)—Joseph Plumb Martin—Little, Brown ($6.50). The Revolutionary War often was fought with tactics that were quaintly old-fashioned or grimly futuristic. During the battle for Fort Mercer, N.J., in 1777, the Americans ran short of ammunition, and soldiers were offered a gill of rum (4 oz.) to retrieve 32-lb. British cannon balls that had fallen short of the mark. U.S. guns then lobbed them back at the British. Near Petersburg, Va., in the closing days of the war, the British captured 700 Negro slaves who had caught smallpox, and deliberately sent them among the rebels as an...

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