A very human perspective on the importance of Valley Forge.


Revolution Rising


From the The Tewkesbury Chronicles series

During the American Revolutionary War, soldiers and camp followers endure harsh conditions in this sequel historical novel.

In Gillespie’s When Revolution Calls (2014), Oliver Tewkesbury, a patriot of 1776, contracted smallpox on his way to rejoining his regiment and became close to the White family of Granville, Connecticut, after being nursed back to health by 17-year-old Rebecca. Her brother Jacob, 15, joined up and was wounded in battle, and as the book closed, Rebecca promised to wait for Oliver’s return from war. In this sequel, set in 1778, paterfamilias Gabriel White decides to join Oliver in George Washington’s army. Rebecca, now 19, gets an escort to Valley Forge so that she can bring the soldiers supplies and help cook, sew, and tend the sick. Mehti, Rebecca’s tomboy younger sister, stows away on this trip; later, the sisters are joined by Hut, a former slave. Oliver, the Whites, and Hut each experience the cruel privations of Valley Forge while contributing to the war effort in his or her own way. Not everyone returns, or returns unscathed, but the novel ends on a note of celebration. Gillespie gives readers a well-rounded view of the revolutionary experience and does so especially well. The spycraft is entertaining, as is seeing how Washington’s bedraggled soldiers become a disciplined army, but the essential contributions of nurses, cooks, and seamstresses are also effectively brought out. Disease, starvation, cold, and heatstroke are also given due attention. Hut’s troubles with a would-be slave-catcher help illustrate additional complexities of the era’s politics. The novel is mostly well-researched—a recommended reading list is appended—but there are a few anachronistic missteps, such as a reference to a woman’s “knickers” (which were introduced in the19th century) and characters using too-modern words such as “angst” (not used in English until the 1920s) and “okay” (whose first known use was in 1839). Gillespie’s style is also somewhat pedestrian, but she sometimes offers striking images, such as the Washingtons’ Valley Forge home, which “smelled…of gun oil, tobacco, simmering root vegetables, and mud.”

A very human perspective on the importance of Valley Forge.

Pub Date: April 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5089-3552-0

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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