Peck turns to Revolutionary America again (he plugs a previous venture, Fawn, in these pages) for the story of Henry Knox--known to his hefty wife as ""big muffin""--who drags 60 tons of cannon 300 miles from Fort Ticonderoga to the defense of Boston at General Washington's order. Tagging along are Natty Bumppo/Chingachgook (Lone Ranger/Tonto) caricatures called Durable Hatch (now about ""five all-fingers"" years old) and Blue Goose, a Huron warrior. Also in tow is Cotton Mayfield Witty, a vain-stupid Virginia boy in love with his horse, who is supposed to ""warp"" into ""manhood"" in the army. All these homy, preoccupied good ol' boys lust after women (even Washington craves a ""lonely widow"") and use them as excuse (""You gild my war with a reason"") for racism and casual murder. Peck's style is alternately coy (""Tarry a bit. . . and ponder a whit"") and lurid (""A wild flower blooming in the dark, and only for him to pluck and smell and devour""). And his definition of manhood (""Boys want and men take"") is blissfully Neanderthal. Knox's trek was, if not heroic, at least hard. This book cheapens history and people.