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review 2018-03-12 01:55
Substantial cast, good historical fiction mystery
The Ninth Daughter - Barbara Hamilton

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I would! It was a great mystery with a hefty set of characters (historical and otherwise) with an underlying theme of political tension playing throughout the plot.


I think that’s what made the book enjoyable, was despite the mystery being the main hook, the political tension and bickering between the patriots and the British was always in the forefront and mentioned when need be as it was central to the story. Every so often you had mention of Abigail’s refusal to drink tea for example, or minor scuffles happening between citizens and the Redcoats.


Despite the tensions however, Abigail puts her ideas and beliefs aside and works alongside the British to solve this mystery. I enjoyed reading her character. She’s strong willed and has a good retort every so often when she needs to speak out, which shocks other characters as it wasn’t considered “proper”. I enjoy Abigail’s unorthodox behavior and it may seem as if she gives an air of an annoying stubborn woman, but it’s because of her personality that things get done no matter whose side you’re on or who you support.


John and Abigail’s relationship was also nice to read. They’re both equals and you can see a subtle quiet strength between them and they compliment each other perfectly. There’s a mutual respect between the two and if they were alive now, they would probably be a political supercouple ;)


The mystery aspect of the book was good and the intrigue is definitely noted. The setting is superbly done and very descriptive. The list of suspects was substantial and revelation of the culprit isn’t much of a surprise but the execution of obtaining the criminal and his background story was excellent to read , and was very satisfying to see the bad guys get their dues. The supporting characters are also well done - although I have to admit, there are just a little too many for me. Even minor characters have their personality and details and although it’s good and makes the world building more detailed and rich, sometimes it’s a bit hard to follow as to who’s who. (Perhaps a section of cast of characters would help in this case - especially when some characters share the same last name)


I’ll be picking up the next book to read. It’s definitely worth looking into for those that love historical fiction mysteries. The tea has been dumped!!! So you have to figure out what sort of chaos is going to happen and what mystery Abigail will solve next.

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review 2018-01-05 00:31
Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past - Ray Raphael

The story of the American Revolution is well known and thought of as gospel by average Americans, but is that story more myth than history?  Ray Raphael in his book, Founding Myths, aims to tell the true patriotic history behind the stories told about the American Revolution.


Investigating thirteen prominent stories surrounding the Revolutionary era, Raphael attempts to put the actual people and events in context of their time while demythologizing the past.  Some of the stories are that of individuals like Paul Revere, Molly Pitcher, and Sam Adams or such events like Yorktown ending the war, the Continental Army surviving Valley Forge, and the events before Lexington and Concord.  While a few myths that Raphael covered have been demystified by some pop-history documentaries since before and after the publishing of this book and others that a well-read history enthusiast already knows are false, there was one that completely surprised me and that was the events of 1774 that led up to the Lexington and Concord.


Although I knew the actual history behind the myths Raphael covered, this book was still a pleasant read if you can persevere through the repetitious references to films like The Patriot and Raphael’s continual hyping of the Massachusetts revolution of 1774.  While I understood the reference to The Patriot given its prominence around the time of the book’s writing but it could have been toned down.  Raphael’s description of the events in Massachusetts in 1774 are really eye-opening but he keeps on bringing them up throughout the book and given he already written a book about the subject before this one it makes it feel like he’s attempting to use one book to sell another.  Finally, Raphael’s brings up how the mythical stories he is writing about are in today’s textbooks in each chapter and while I think this was book information, it might have been better if he had moved that into his concluding chapter alone.


Founding Myths is fascinating reading for both general and knowledgeable history readers which is a credit to Ray Raphael’s research, yet there are pitfalls that take some of the joy out of reading this book.  While I recommend this book, just be weary of the repetitious nature that I described above.

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review 2017-05-06 19:03
Review of Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution by James McPherson
Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution - James M. McPherson,Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincol

I enjoyed this short book of academic essay by the most famous Civil War historian James McPherson.  The essays look at specific aspects of Lincoln as President including his use of metaphors, his single-minded focus on complete victory in the War, and his views on liberty.  Great read for people with a deep Civil War or Lincoln background, but probably too heavy for anyone interested in a popular history.

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review 2017-03-14 21:56
Scars of the Independence
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth - Holger Hoock

I received this book via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.


The quaint, romanticized version of the American Revolution that many have grown up with through popular history and school curriculum is not the real life story that those living during those years experienced.  In Scars of Independence, Holger Hoock looks past the good versus bad and underdog narratives so prevalent today to reveal the multifaceted struggle and very violent history of the American Revolutionary War from all its participants.


Hoock frames the American Revolution as not just a colonial rebellion, but first and foremost a civil war in which the dividing line of loyalties split family.  The Patriot-Loyalist violence, either physical or political, began long before and lasted long after the military conflict.  Once the fighting actually began, both the Americans and the British debated amongst themselves on the appropriate use of the acceptable violence connected to 18th century warfare and on the treatment of prisoners.  While both sides thought about their conduct to those in Europe, the Native Americans were another matter and the violence they were encouraged to inflict or was inflicted upon them was some of the most brutal of the war.  But through all of these treads, Hoock emphasizes one point over and over, that the American Patriots continually won the “propaganda” war not only in the press on their side of the Atlantic but also in Europe and even Great Britain.


One of the first things a reader quickly realizes is that Hoock’s descriptions of some of the events of the American Revolution remind us of “modern-day” insurgencies and playbooks of modern terrorists, completely shattering the popular view of the nation’s birth.  Hoock’s writing is gripping for those interested in popular history and his research is thought-provoking for scholars.  Another point in Hoock’s favor is his birth outside the Anglo-American historical sphere in Germany, yet his background in British history and on-off research fellowships in the United States has given him a unique perspective to bring this piece of Anglo-American history out to be consumed, debated, and thought upon.


Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth is a fascinating, intriguing, thought-provoking book on the under-reported events of the American Revolutionary War in contrast to the view of the war from popular history.  Holger Hoock gives his readers an easy, yet detailed filled book that will help change their perspective on the founding of the United States by stripping the varnish away to reveal the whole picture.

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review 2016-11-07 20:48
Nonfiction Fun!
American Revolution - Stuart Murray

I love the idea of using this book to introduce a lesson on American Revolution, as well as, integrating nonfiction text. I would use this book in upper elementary, preferably 5th or 6th grade. It would be a great review on nonfiction and introduction to American Revolution. I would have an anchor chart with the elements of nonfiction text. I would then have an anchor chart with the facts about the American Revolution.   

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