Victory or Death: Military Decisions That Changed The Course of The American Revolution by Jack Darrell Crowder: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

Jack Darrell Crowder has been a busy man this year, with a second newly published book up for sale. His area of interest is clearly the American Revolution.

Victory or Death: Military Decisions That Changed the Course of the American Revolution, newly published in June 2023, offers an overview of the various military decisions made during the American Revolution, from the American attack on Quebec to Yorktown.


1. Appointment of George Washington as Commander of the American Army
2. British Frontal Assault of Bunker [Breed’s] Hill
3. The Battle and Siege of Quebec by the Americans
4. British General Howe’s Hesitation in Attacking Washington in New York
5. Washington Makes a Bold Decision and Attacks Trenton
6. British Decisions and Lack of communication Results in a Defeat at Saratoga
7. Washington Organizes a Spy Ring
8. How Decisions About African Americans as Soldiers Affected the War
9. Important Decisions at Valley Forge Save the American Army
10. Battle of Kings Mountain: The Beginning of the End
11. Washington Appoints Nathanael Greene Commander of the Southern Army
12. Yorktown: No Where to Hide
End Notes

Chapter 1 sets the scene for the opening of the War for American Independence with a biographical sketch about George Washington and his appointment as Commander of the American Army.

The rest of the chapters deal directly with military decisions made by leaders on both sides of the conflict, all the way to the close of the war at Yorktown.

My two favorite chapters were Chapters 7 and 8, mostly because I knew the least about their effects on the Revolutionary War. I especially liked the inclusion of womens’ roles as spies. I had heard of The Culper Ring and know that, even today, there is one woman who served as an especially effective spy in that ring, but whose identity is yet unproven.

Chapter 8 discussed the impact that black Americans, whether enslaved or free, had on the progress of the war. Southerners feared that African Americans who were taught to use weapons and actually fight might later cause an uprising of the enslaved. Therefore, their service in the American army was limited.

However, many enslaved men took the British up on their offer of promised freedom if they fought for the King. Jefferson stated that 30,000 slaves in Virginia alone escaped to help the British. As the war ended, though, many blacks who had served the British were captured by the Americans and were returned to a life of enslavement. Decisions made in the 1770s and 1780s continued to fester for another 75 years.

Military decision making wouldn’t normally be my first choice for reading matter. However, Crowder has presented the information in an interesting way, supplemented with historical images and maps. I enjoyed reading how each decision affected the outcome of the American Revolution.

Victory or Death: Military Decisions That Changed the Course of the American Revolution by Jack Darrell Crowder, published by Clearfield Company for Genealogical Publishing Company,  can be ordered online at for $37.50. Information can also be found there about his other four books about the American Revolution.


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