THE INCREDIBLE WILLIAM BOWLES by Joseph Millard

THE INCREDIBLE WILLIAM BOWLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The usual apology for combining fiction with biography is that invented dialogue and suppositional gestures, thoughts and facial expressions lend drama to recorded fact. The author has employed these devices in describing the life of the incredible Bowles. Although the result has a definite narrative energy, the central drama of Bowles has escaped attention. What was the fanatic potential that kept the young Tory fighting after the British were defeated in the Revolution? How could a young man unable to reconcile himself to an American identity nevertheless become an ardent adopted Indian, taking scalps as a war chief? Bowles was unusually successful in persuading the Florida tribes to act in concert against Spanish authorities and American aggression. The dream was an Indian nation which would become both a commercial and military ally of England in North America. Bowles' downfall, after adventures that are stranger than any fiction, had all the elements of Greek tragedy. The tribal chieftains, because of financial necessity, abandoned him. His heartbreak is stated rather than demonstrated. The contrast between their pragmatism and his idealism-gone-wild is not discussed or in any way pointed up. Minor figure/ average performance.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1965
Publisher: Chilton