THE LOYALISTS: The Story of Those Americans Who Fought Against Independence by Donald Barr Chidsey

THE LOYALISTS: The Story of Those Americans Who Fought Against Independence

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Depending on your tolerance for popular history peppered with cracker-barrel anecdote and whizbang commentary, you can take Chidsey's oeuvre as incidentally informative amusements or outrageous oversimplifications. At his best (perhaps The Siege of Boston, The French and Indian Wars), Chidsey can recreate the contemporary climate of a landmark battle or famous confrontation. At his worst he skews for effect (""William Johnson was stupendous, a giant. With a whistle he could summon thousands of scowling warriors"") and his portraits are often cartoons (viz. Sam Adams: ""wishy-washy gray eyes, a throat all cords, and clothes that were drab. . . .""). In this serendipitous survey of Loyalist persons and enclaves during the Revolution, Chidsey travels geographically, collecting British sympathizers of varying stamp from upper New York and Canada down to Georgia. Some served simply as symbols of oppression and targets of mob anger (like the conscientious Gov. Hutchinson); some blundered into damaging dependence on Crown appointments; others engaged in clumsy espionage; and there were those who quietly hoped the whole mess would blow over. As always Chidsey has dredged up some forgotten people and incidents, but this is too discursive and playful to pass as a cohesive view of the men of the times.

Pub Date: July 4th, 1973
Publisher: Crown