Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book Review: Bootmaker To The Nation

Four years ago, I read this book on the strong advice of a friend of mine. That friend was a great gentleman and devotee` of early American history named John Grubb. Before his untimely death nearly two years ago, John was a bookseller at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's center, and could always be relied upon to point me toward the next great book on the period. I am glad I took his advice on this one.

The author of this book, Dr. John Slade, has hit a historical home run with this well-told tale of the birth of our republic.

Told from the viewpoints of Benjamin York, a pressed British seaman that deserts in 1775 Boston, and Genevieve, the Massachusetts farm girl he marries. The story takes us from the beginning of our war of independence at Lexington & Concord, to it's end at the Siege of Yorktown.

Not only does Slade tell the story well, he does something that will truly shock some people: He teaches you every bit as much as he entertains! This is no dry historical tome that will send you off to sleep after the first few pages. No, indeed. When you put this book down, you will have a real feeling and understanding about the American Revolution that so few people ever get.

When you read this book, Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill will become real places and real battles, not just a dry collection of ates and factoids from high school. Not only will you see the battles as real, but the people as well. From the hunger of the foot soldier, to the real moral and tactical dilemmas facing the various commanders.

Slade makes people like George Washington, and Nathaniel Greene real flesh-and-blood men, not the cardboard heroes we often read about. The fact that he makes them human makes them all the more heroic.

Another point in Slade's favor is that he doesn't fail to discuss the southern theater of operations. Many Americans don't realize that the bloodiest fighting of the war took place in the Carolina's, and that the most militarily significant battle of the southern campaign was that of Guilford Courthouse, in North Carolina.

Slade has done nothing short of brilliant work here.

Read this book. You won't be disappointed.

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