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The course of Revolutionary ferment and fighting is sketchily reconstructed via salient episodes in the lives of thirteen leading figures -- whose further activities, before and after, fill out each brief (c. 10 pp. less pictures) biographical entry. The date of the event and a pertinent quote comprise the chapter headings; in some cases the subject, man and occasion, can be recognized readily (""1765 'Caesar had his Brutus'""), in others not (""1777 'Not to teach but to learn'""): accessibility for reference is thus subordinated to the ongoing thrust. And going on with it from Otis' 1761 stand against ""search and seizure"" to Robert Morris' 1781 appointment as Superintendent of Finance seems the only productive procedure since the entries are interdependent anyhow. They vary, however, in value. Re John Adams, there is a distinct bias against the ""far-outers"" who provoked the 'Boston massacre' which has the effect, ironically, of devaluating his defense of the British soldiers who shot them, and the further account of Adams is not only trivial but so deficient as not to explain the basis of the ""quarrel"" with Jefferson that is later made up. Apropos of Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence a more serious omission occurs also, that of all significant controversy anent its adoption (most particularly over the condemnation of slavery). With Paul Revere (whose ride, minus the rebel spy network, appears overly spontaneous), a fallacious generalization compounds a mistake: it is foolish to say that ""Huguenots in France were not always openly persecuted, but they certainly felt the effects of discrimination,"" then to note that Revere's father ""came to America in 1716,"" the year after Louis XIV announced that Ire had wiped out Protestantism; moreover, Apollos Rivoire came as a child refugee and was later apprenticed to a silversmith, not ""looking for a more tolerant land in which to practice silversmithing."" The format is novel, the cross-references sometimes fruitful; the material -- which embraces also Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, Washington, Lafayette, Franklin and Von Steuben -- is flimsy albeit sometimes suggestive.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1971
Publisher: Four Winds