I seem to be all over the place in reading lately, but with little time to post about it. I seem to focus on big-brush topics at times and while I always hope to post on them, it never seems to work. So I'm hoping with a little prodding on my own part, I'll follow up on my intent with actual posts. We'll see how this works...
There have been several topics I'm digging into of late. Sparta/Athens is a constant one. But lately I find I've been focusing on the American Revolution, but more so from the Tory side. I think it was the realization that this was our first civil war (hardly a new thought) that has drawn me into it a little more. As well as discovering some wonderful books. Naturally.
First a digression. Have you watched any of the AMC series Turn? I rarely get hooked on a TV series, and yet this one drew me in. I've read some of the books on Washington's spy ring and I realize the series takes a LOT of liberties with the known facts. And there are a lot more liberties taken in other areas. And yet the overall feel rings true. I think part of the appeal lies in the major figures—Washington, Arnold, etc.—playing pivotal roles, but the focus in on "supporting" figures. And if you've read any of the spy-ring books, you'll know that those involved in such activities left little to draw attention to their actions. Similar to what I mentioned about Dumas' treatment of historical fact and the introduction of conjecture in The Red Sphinx, there's a lot of room to insert what you want as long as you're consistent with the overall trajectory. The point I want to make is that the details of those involved at the grass-roots level is what drew me in to the series. You realize what they are risking, whether for England or America. And you also see that deciding which side you were on wasn't always a clear-cut decision on right and wrong.
Several years ago I read Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. I hope to resurrect my notes and post them here, because it was a wonderful book on what was at stake for those that chose to side with England during the war and how that played out after the Revolutionary War. All of which led me to other books. First there was Peter Oliver's Origin and Progress of the American Revolution: A Tory View, which is a marvelous first-person view of what happened in Massachusetts during the Revolution by the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the province. Needless to say, he has a favorable view of Thomas Hutchinson and isn't quite as friendly toward the Otises or Samuel Adams (and those that came under his sway, such as John Hancock). Again, I hope to post more on his book.
If you favor fiction, Kenneth Roberts' Oliver Wiswell (if I were a urologist, I'd change my name to this), is a great historical novel that looks at the revolution from various regions of the colonies. At times it's a no-holds-barred view of what a revolution entails, to which the American version was no exception to the usual incorporation of terror tactics. What doesn't make it into the text (because it wouldn't make sense) is the comparison of the American Revolution to other revolutions in a similar timeframe. The story offers great narrations on war and its costs. Like the other books, I hope to make more comments on this wonderful (out-of-print) book.
The last book I'll mention here is Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock, which has recently been released by Penguin Random House. I've just recently picked this up and hope to comment on it soon.
So much for this "good intentions" post. Feel free to comment on related books.