Kirkus Star


Email this review


The story of the American Revolution survives for most readers in the form of schoolbook history, a plethora of novels built around virtually every facet of its development, and a library of biographical literature and studies of varied phases. There was needed a lively overall study, giving due recognition to the immense contribution made throughout the length of the colonies, to the numerous dedicated leaders, not only militarily but at political, economic, civilian level, to the generous role played by lovers of the cause from foreign lands, LaFayette, De Grasse, Rochambeau, von Steuben, Kosciusko and others. Bruce Lancaster, whose historical fiction has brought many aspects of the Revolution to life, has done a comprehensive history, from the initial unrest of the colonies, to the shooting war, and on through to victory and a measure of peace. Here we live each phase of a war that seemed almost all set-back, delay and defeat. We go through six years of alternate hope and despair, with a governing body torn by dissension, dogged by debt, and yet upheld by ideals of a slowly accepted goal. We meet the military leaders and their underlings, we come to realize the pressures of local needs, regional complexities, personal ambitions, the doubts that resulted in betrayals, the disappointments when rewards were hard come by, the difficulties attendant on securing supplies, meeting payments, dodging debts, holding the men in the ranks when their terms were up, when mutiny threatened, when planting of crops seemed a necessity, when home front conditions demanded attention. Some will quarrel with the breezy style, the modern colloquialisms, the intrusion of modern concepts (Geiger counter, for instance), and the fictional flavor that gives it the pace of story. Others will argue that some of the favorite episodes are played down, while unfamiliar ones are elevated. (This I feel is one of the strengths of the book). Here we have a balanced view, a real contribution to our American Heritage.

Publisher: Doubleday