The World Turned Upside Down: The Yorktown Victory That Won America’s Independence

Abrams. Apr. 2022. 296p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419749940.
Gr 5 Up–Grove’s history of the final military conflict of the Revolutionary War is told from many viewpoints. Ranging from commanding officers (George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Charles Cornwallis) to a enslaved-person-turned-spy (James Armistead Lafayette), the voices weave together the war’s final battle. The Battle of Yorktown, more appropriately termed the Siege of Yorktown, took place from September 28, 1781 to October 19, 1781. In order to place the titular event in context, Grove delves deeply into the entire Revolutionary War. The 200-plus page lead-up seems like an incredibly long (but necessary) introduction. The entire work is well written and expertly illustrated with maps, paintings, letters, broadsides, diary entries, and other primary sources. The author uses much of this evidence to show how victory was not possible without French military assistance. He also makes particular effort to illustrate the precarious and unjust treatment of Black soldiers and enslaved people. Many enslaved people fled to the British hoping a British victory would mean their freedom; at Yorktown, many Black soldiers were left behind when the British retreated. Ultimately, the British defeat meant those enslaved who had hoped that “all men are created equal” included Black men, women, and children, were returned to slave owners. Black soldiers risked their lives for the cause of freedom that was only enjoyed by their oppressors. The title of the work is drawn from popular (but not universally verifiable) folklore that the British played this namesake song during the surrender.
VERDICT Exceptionally well done and very detailed, this might be a better purchase for a school library, unless a public library needs comprehensive Revolutionary War materials.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing