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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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