Some of us remember the Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes, an eight volume historical fiction series first published in the 1970s and popular for years among historical fiction readers. What better time than July to read (or re-read) Jakes’ vision of what life was like in the 18th century for fledgling Americans who believed in a new government based on personal freedom and a representative government? The Bastard is the first book of the series, available in both eBook and print formats from the Library.
Another novel that explores the everyday citizen’s story, while also lending insight into the personalities of early leaders, is the new book by Sally Cabot called Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard. This dramatic novel is less about the Revolutionary War than it is about Franklin’s strongly-held political and ethical beliefs that stood in contrast to his personal life. The problems begin when a tavern girl bears Franklin’s illegitimate son and then is asked to give her baby into the care of Franklin’s wife, Anne. Cabot’s rendering is heart-wrenching and immersive.
If you haven’t read Jeff Shaara’s war stories, you are in for a treat. Rise to Rebellion, first in Shaara’s American Revolution duology, focuses on the key people and events that put America on the path to revolution, starting with the Boston Massacre in 1770. Shaara takes readers right into the action as seen by both sides and into the minds of the people involved, to help readers understand their decisions and the dramatic events that instigated war. The sequel is The Glorious Cause.
In 1779 the spanking new American naval forces attempted to oust the Redcoats at the new British fort on the Penobscot River in what was then Massachusetts. Outnumbering their enemies, the Patriots were sure of success but they had reckoned without British stubborn courage and suffered ignominious defeat. Bernard Cornwell paints the entire picture, from both perspectives, in his stand-alone novel, The Fort.
For more suggestions of books to read in the rockets’ red glare click here.