by Timothy Lane 7/10/16
By David Fisher • Available for the Kindle • Unlike the first volume in this series, in which each chapter provides a short biography of a noted figure, this starts with 5 chapters that focus on certain patriots (Samuel Adams and Paul Revere; John Adams; Benjamin Franklin; George Washington; Thomas Jefferson), but also provide a general history from the Stamp Act to the Declaration of Independence. The remaining chapters follow the pattern of the previous book, except for one that deals with “forgotten heroes” — black patriots (and a few black Tories).
After that, there are a couple of biographical chapters, on Benedict Arnold and Francis Marion. Arnold, of course, was a Patriot hero of many battles, and twice wounded, before choosing the course of betrayal due to a complex series of motives. Marion was famous as the Swamp Fox, though if he hadn’t been home recuperating from an illness he would have been captured at Charleston with the rest of the army there. This chapter describes many of his operations against the British, providing information I didn’t have before.
The book concludes with a look at the new nation, featuring chapters on George Washington as President and the dispute (leading to a fatal duel) between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Hamilton and Burr were supposedly friends, but Hamilton had no respect for Burr as a possible leader, which led to a series of disputes. (Some might see an analogy to the way some Republicans have no use for Donald Trump today. I doubt he’ll challenge them to a duel, though a lawsuit might always be possible.)
There are also a number of shorter pieces (not listed in the table of contents) covering various related topics. These include the story of the Liberty Bell, some of the key foreign aides (Lafayette, von Steuben, Kosciuszko, and Pulaski), the crossing of the Delaware and capture of Trenton, the origins of “Yankee Doodle”, and sewing the early flags. (This was done by various Philadelphia seamstresses, including Betsy Ross, but there’s no way of knowing who did the first one.)
The book is well-written and informative, and also includes a variety of illustrations, some color and some black-and-white, many taken from noted paintings (such as Emanuel Leutze’s painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware).
Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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