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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...


A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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