The Washington Crossing Historic Park book club will begin a new book, Ten Crucial Days: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds by William L. Kidder, at its July meeting.
The meeting will be held July 19 at 5:30 PM on Zoom. To register, please visit DCNR’s website. Zoom meeting details will be provided upon registration. Participants should be prepared to discuss the Introduction through Chapter 4.
The Wider Context of the Ten Crucial Days
While Ten Crucial Days is not the only book to provide a play-by-play account of the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River in 1776 and the critical battles that followed over the next 10 days, it distinguishes itself, Kidder says, by putting the events “into a wider context and also exploring them at the human level.”
Kidder examines local history in his books with a rare level of detail, says Kimberly McCarty, the park’s curator. McCarty leads the book club’s discussions. She says she selected this one because it defines the crossing as a “piece of a larger puzzle,” and in doing so establishes its significance in American history.
McCarty also appreciates Kidder’s approach. Kidder, who taught at The Hun School of Princeton for more than 30 years, takes the time to highlight when something cannot be verified with primary sources. “It’s an objective way of approaching history,” McCarty says. “He’s alerting the reader when something cannot be documented to an 18th-century source.”
Of Ten Crucial Days, Kidder says: “It’s not just a recounting of the military events but a look at the human stories of those involved at all levels of authority, as well as those whose lives were invaded by the events.”
In viewing the Ten Crucial Days from a personal perspective, a slightly different narrative emerged for Kidder than the one he was familiar with. “I came to realize, even more than I had previously, just how much the men of both armies suffered,” he says. “The suffering of the Hessians at Trenton was particularly enlightening and in sharp contrast to the myth that on the night Washington’s men suffered through the crossing and the march to Trenton, the Hessians were engaged in holiday parties in comfortable Trenton.”
Upcoming Book Club Meetings
Book club meetings are free and open to all. Members should provide their own books.