Book Review: Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots

LegendsAndLiesby Timothy Lane7/10/16
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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12 Responses to Book Review: Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m not trying to steal your thunder, but I ran across another book on American history that sounds interesting. There’s a review of it at The American Spectator. It’s one of their rare good articles.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I have a number of other books by Yenne, so I’ll probably want to get this one as well. I also have some material on the Flying Tigers, including a biography of Chennault. I was surprised reading one of them that the AVG got started so late — by the time they faced the Japanese over Burma, there was no longer any need for a mercenary group to serve as unofficial US proxies.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s a photo that Mr. Kung has contributed of the P-40.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Imagine flyers intentionally going into harm’s way. Contrast that with today’s ethos where people actually apologize for the violence done to them (typically by Islam). My hat is off to those flyboys (a not half bad movie, by the way, about American yutes volunteering for the French military).

        What’s missing in America is a warrior class. What we have is a “community agitator” class of pansies. Sincerely, my hat off to those men (and some women) who stand on the line between good and the big evils (not the small evils such as cigarette smoking or “global warming” which are the front lines for the pansies).

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I suspect we still have a warrior class, given that we still find volunteers for unpleasant service in distant lands. Where do we find them? Well, that question is asked at the end The Bridges of Toko-Ri, so it’s nothing new.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I agree that we still have a warrior class. Unfortunately, this class is being disempowered by being given work that is more akin to social engineering. The military itself is being socially engineered. Here’s what I think is a difficult truth: The lives lost trying to stabilize and de-radicalize the Middle East have been lost in vain. Is the Middle East today any different or better? I think it clear that is is not and a case can be made that it is worse.

            So it’s one thing to have a warrior class. It’s another thing to actually use it for good and effective purposes.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          We have a warrior class it is informal but it truly exists, grandchildren following grandfathers, sons and daughters following fathers. The demographics are hard to pin down but my guess is that at least 1/3 of all new recruits are following a family member.

          I have reservations about this trend since military service is voluntary it tends to make the military an exclusive club. When everyone was subject to the draft, even rock stars like Elvis, the military represented a more equalitarian cross section of our culture. Today it is dominated by legacy enrollments and sons of the South.

          In my own family, my grandfathers, WW I and Spanish American War, my father WWII, Korea, my mother WWII, my brother Korea and Vietnam, myself Vietnam, my grandsons Iraq and Afghanistan, my granddaughter Navy headed to duty on a carrier. Not to mention uncles, cousins and in-laws.

          We share a common sub-culture that the average civilian does not understand or, I think care to understand, except police there is a lot of commonality with them and many police come from the military.

          Then there are Marines, America’s Spartans

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            No doubt we’ll always need boots on the ground. But it seems we’re fast approaching the point where warfare has an increasingly technical aspect thereby necessitating a skill level above what mere egalitarianism can get you. How long until drones replace piloted planes? And tanks? And motorized guns?

            Still, whatever weapons at our command, there is no replacement for the Spartan spirit. The pansified, candy-ass leadership of the befuddled (if not outwardly anti-American) Obama types will never cut it. We need good American leaders with a clear sense of our history and what we are fighting for. Does that exist today? Probably not amongst the brass. No doubt if you asked those lower in the ranks what to do about Islam, they could tell you.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Since the late misunderstanding between the states in 1860 there has been a revolution in military thinking, most of it at the Col level or below. Only a few flag officers have had a real impact the two most important were Emory Upton who set the stage for the reform of Army and Marine tactics including the general staff model and Alfred Mahan whose work reformed how we think of the Navy and its role.

              Lt. General McMasters is one of the few reformers who has made it into the 4 star levels. Hyman Rickover was another, but they both suffered for their opinions with slow promotion and assignments not suited to their skills. It was only their promotion to flag rank that they could work on truly important issues.

              Bottom line, reform ideas come from the ranks, but implementation must come from above.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            There’s a good bit of that in my family, too. My father was a West Point graduate and served in the Corps of Engineers, a great-aunt and her husband were both career soldiers, a maternal uncle was a long-term Army volunteer, and a second cousin was a Navy commander in medical care.

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