Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Kingdom on the Waves

The Kindgom on the Waves (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #2)The Kindgom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not a happy book. The tragedy is eloquent and slow building. It's almost enough to make you wish the redcoats had won. But in the end, neither side is that sympathetic from the perspective of the slaves.

The Revolutionary war tends to be romanticized, cast as a conflict of freedom versus tyranny. A war of rhetoric and patriots. Patrick Henry: "Give me Liberty or give me death." The federalist papers. George Washington crossing the Delaware. Minutemen militias and muskets.

All of that is true. But it's all a little sanitized. The rhetoric was passionate, but also inflammatory. The Boston tea party was a mob, and they were not kind to those loyal to the king. Liberty was a grand new(ly important) idea, and it was still incomplete. Liberty to own slaves was as important as taxation without representation.

This book is about the part of the revolutionary war that was a war, with soldiers, cannon, imperfect officers, disease, poor rations, and death. The author in his afterword talks about how he wanted to dispel the historical fog that surrounds the revolutionary war. I think he did that.

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