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American War of Independence

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Matt Phillips
Posts: 100
Joined: August 2009

Post by Matt Phillips » Mon December 28th, 2009, 11:02 pm

I enjoyed Shaara's Rise to Rebellion for the subject matter but wondered how someone with a more casual interest in the period would receive it. It's a great narrative of the challenges key leaders faced in the years leading up to the Declaration of Independence, but not a great novel. The style is almost closer to non-fiction narrative than fiction, with frequent, long blocks of description and dialogue that reads more like speechifying all too often. He breaks the rule of "show don't tell" all the time, seemingly forced to do so by his vast scope, which covers 1770-1776 from the points of view of four or more major historical figures. If you're interested in a survey of the Revolutionary War told from the perspectives of multiple Founding Fathers, you can't go wrong with this book. But if you're looking for something that immerses you in the era, it doesn't serve that purpose.

Looking for something from the POV of an average person in the Revolutionary era, I turned to Arundel by Kenneth Roberts and have almost finished it. The protagonist is a Maine innkeeper in his late 20s who follows Benedict Arnold on his 1775 expedition to Quebec, in part out of admiration for Arnold (long before Arnold's betrayal, of course) and in part to seek a long-lost love. He paints a rich picture of the period, develops a credible perspective on the motivations of some common people to join the fight against the British, and unveils an intense story of an agonizing wilderness journey. This book is still compelling 80 years after it was written. The interactions between white and Indian characters are also fascinating and credible. My only gripes are that the pace tends to slow down in the middle, and the protagonist's enduring love for a girl he hasn't seen since age 12 comes off a stretch (why not make him 18 instead of 28, I wondered?), but I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a good novel set in the Revolutionary era or even any HF fan at all. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Rabble in Arms, once I've finished Arundel.

Posts: 1073
Joined: August 2008
Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Post by chuck » Tue December 29th, 2009, 4:49 am

Matt....Kenneth Roberts is one of my favorite authors......Have read all of his works...I like KR's objective perspective on the American Revolution...At times he can and is very critical of the Rebels behaviour, especially the Boston Mob in portrayed in the "Rabble in Arms"....His fair depiction of the American Loyalist perspective can found in KR's "Oliver Wiswell"....Slow Classical, well researched reads.....I also recommend "Lydia Bailey" and his first novel "Northwest Passage" a French and Indian war novel featuring Robert Rogers and his famous Rangers.....I might mention a couple other hard to find favorites Walter Edmond's "Drums Along the Mohawk"...and Neil Swanson's "Unconquered"....Both terrific reads.....

Harold Titus
Posts: 10
Joined: December 2011
Location: Florence, Oregon

Post by Harold Titus » Mon May 14th, 2012, 5:17 am

I've also read Jeff Shaara's "Rise to Rebellion." I pretty much agree with Matt. You have to have a particular interest in wanting to know the inner thoughts and emotions of Ben Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, and British General thomas Gage to have some appreciation of this book.

However, having written a historical novel about the Battles of Lexington and Concord, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Shaara did a two-chapter gloss job about those events. He was inaccurate, he was vague, and he made things up.

I really enjoyed Kenneth Robers's "oliver Wiswell."
Harold Titus
Author, "Crossing the River" (Sept. 2011)

Posts: 5
Joined: February 2017
Currently reading: The Duchess
Interest in HF: Growing up in historic New England town, close to Boston and sea coast
Favourite HF book: The Physick Book of Deliverence Dane
Preferred HF: Eighteenth century, fantasy
Location: Portsmouth, Nh

Re: American War of Independence

Post by Bostonduchess » Tue February 14th, 2017, 2:32 pm

It's not fiction but it's incredibly well written, called Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick. It's paints out the earliest days of the revolution as it started in Boston, but also how the tensions rose from the French and Indian war. Great read!

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