A well-researched but overly complex dissection of a forgotten yet pivotal episode in American history.



An economist’s debut historical novel focuses on the roots and impact of the Virginia Uprising of 1675-76.

At the beginning of this ambitious work, violent attacks by the Susquehannock spread fear throughout Virginia. A brutal military retaliation leads the tribe to plan a getaway west to “Kain-tuck-ee” while its warriors continue raiding farms. Burgess Thomas Swann advocates brokering peace, but unscrupulous Sir William Berkeley, governor of the Royal Colony of Virginia, concentrates on profitability: “If some get killed, that’s in our interest. It makes land available for men of quality.” When peace efforts fail and the conflict intensifies, settlers petition Sir William to authorize strikes against the Native Americans by troops under Commissioned Officer Nat Bacon. But this leads to an elaborate sequence of cat-and-mouse machinations between the troops and Sir William, who bristles at anyone trying to influence how he runs Virginia. When Bacon successfully ends the assaults, Sir William regains the upper hand by declaring all of the soldiers traitors, hunting them down for execution and seizure of their property. He is ousted and replaced when King Charles II intervenes from England in response to the petition of people like Swann who seek a fair level of representation returned to the populous without threat of retribution. Crabbe convincingly argues in her book that this “popular insurgency” in Virginia yielded significant socioeconomic changes with far-reaching effects on America’s future. Her judicious research is evident by the long bibliography of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, the author boasts an extensive vocabulary of arcane words appropriate to the era. In terms of cultural sensitivity, engrossing details are offered in the Native American passages, but they too often fall into the noble savage trope. The novel’s constantly changing locations, mix of Native American and Gregorian calendars, and more than 70 characters could deter casual readers from wading through the daunting labyrinth for what is at heart an intriguing retelling of an underrepresented event.

A well-researched but overly complex dissection of a forgotten yet pivotal episode in American history.

Pub Date: May 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9988114-0-6

Page Count: 292

Publisher: The Global Finance Group

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2017

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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