Reveloutionary War novels
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There are plenty of good Civil War historical fiction novels. I can't think of any from the Reveloutionary War of the top of my head. Anyone have suggestions?
"Redcoat" by Bernard Cornwell is pretty good. I like a lot of his other novels, too. They span many different historical periods and countries.
In the YA area, of course, there's Johnny Tremain.
There's also M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, which is now also available in Volume 2 (The Kingdom on the Waves). I read Volume 1, and it was all right but in my opinion nothing to write home about, so I didn't keep my hardcover copy but donated it to my local library instead. I don't plan on getting Volume 2.
Still, though, you should give it a look-see, because I think I may be in a minority in giving it just a so-so rating. Don't be put off by its YA status, because although Octavian Nothing gets categorized as a YA book, it's really fairly advanced (and because of its rather convoluted writing style I wouldn't recommend it to YAs who aren't at least fairly advanced readers).
Kenneth Roberts wrote a number of historical novels about the Revolutionary War in the 1930s and 40s. There are some available now on BookMooch and on eBay, and sometimes they can be found in library sales and used book stores.
The Whiskey Rebels takes place a few years after the Revolutionary War, when George Washington is President, but one of the characters was a spy during the war and many of the Founding Fathers figure prominently in the story.
Thank-you all for your suggestions - I looked at several and added 1176, The Whiskey Rebels and Drums along the Mohawk to my wish list.
#4 - I read Octavian Nothing - I had mixed feelings about it as well - I think it would have been better without all the gimmicks - I also don't plan on going out of my way to read the second volume.
I have to second the comment about Kenneth Roberts. He was one of my favorite authors for a while. I grew up virtually in a library, and read everything they had by Roberts. Just be prepared to set aside your learned prejudices about Bennedict Arnold.
I read one of those Kenneth Roberts, Arundel when in Junior High. I purchased it as an adult to be sure I had it in my collection. It tells of the time when Benedict Arnold was a good guy and the reasoning for his being one of our generals...
Dark Eagle by John Ensor Harr chronicles the downfall of Benedict Arnold.
Kenneth Roberts' books are still in print. Published by Down East Books. Roberts was a bit of a Royalist, and took a dim view of egalitarian democracy.
I think that all of the titles I've read mentioned here are great choices. And I am sooo glad to see nobody recommended the bicentennial publications by John Jakes. Dreadful stuff!
My particular favorites are the four novels of F. van Wyck Mason which cover the entire war. The series is a rousing set of stories which are tremendously well written; they have a great sense of time and place. The geographic scope of the novels takes place in the nascent United States, Great Britain, and the West Indies. To use a term I hate, these are really good reads.
Each volume stands on its own as a narrative, but it is much more enjoyable to read them in order. Fictional personalities weave through the series in more or lesser important roles in each volume.
• Three Harbours (1938)
• Stars on the Sea (1940)
• Rivers of Glory (1942)
• Eagle in the Sky (1948)
Mason also wrote a Civil War series which included descendant
characters from the Revolutionary War series.
I'll second #9's recommendation of the Jeff shaara duo. I'm re-reading Rise to Rebellion right now. Since he writes from the perspective of several different notables (on both sides of the conflict), it's a nice, balanced look at what really happened.
Long Knife by James Alexander Thom is a great account of George Rogers Clark, a pioneer general who kept things going on the western front--one you hear less about in the history books.
Johnny One-Eye: A Tale of the American Revolution by Jerome Charyn. Not your usual historical fiction read but a good diversion from my usual reads
I join #9 and #16 in recommending Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara. The former is particularly fun, fleshing out the roles of Sam and John Adams leading up to the revolution, along with Ben Franklin, George Washington and others. Its depiction of the Continental Congress resulting in the Declaration of Independence is fascinating.
I just finished reading The Tory Widow, which takes place in NYC during the Revolution. I personally was unimpressed by it, but others seemed to enjoy it, so maybe it's just me :-)
I whole heartedly agree with the Whiskey Rebels. However, I must be older than everyone else that responded because John Jakes Patriot/Bicentennial Series is the first thing that comes to my mind. They came out in the 70s and used book stores are full of the paperbacks. I really enjoyed this series. Book #1 is The Bastard John Jakes
I loved Celia Garth when I was younger. It would probably seem very dated today, but I would read it again.
Altho not a novel but a memoir writen
40 years after the Revolutionary WarPrivate Yankee Doodle: Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier by Joseph Plumb Martin is a very good read.
These memoirs are of a young farmer who becomes a private in the continental army during the American Revolution. Full of day to day living, of long marches, cold, heat,rain, snow and hunger. The modern soldier would recognize Mr. Martin.
The only other novel that comes to mind is a April Morning by Howard Fast, depicting the Battle of Lexington and Concord from the perspective of a fictional teenager.
I'm going to have to look into those F. van Wyck Mason books.
Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow is very good -- about the Revolution in South Carolina. Shadow Patriots by Lucia St. Clair Robson is also quite good -- it is about the spy network based in NYC during the Revolution. I also enjoyed Whiskey Rebels by David Liss, and Rise to Rebellion and Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara.
Diana Gabaldon has a series of books following the same two main characters from Scotland to France to the American Colonies. In, "The Drums of Autumn" the series picks up in the American Colonies. I enjoyed reading the entire series over a summer. My husband got to know the characters through my description of the books. Soon at the end of his working day he would ask me how Jamie and Claire got along that day. It is a captivating, and educational series!
The Jeff Shaara books, while technically novels, read more like personal histories.
Howard Fast, one of the authors blacklisted for his socialist tendencies, wrote a couple of good ones: "April Morning" and "The Unvanquished."
Kenneth Roberts most famous revolutionary novels are "Northwest Passage" and "Rabble in Arms."
John Harr's "Dark Eagle" is good one, as is David Nevin's book (called "Treason" if I recollect correctly)
A great French and Indian War one that I love is "Unconquered" by Neil Swanson (made into a wonderfully corny Cecil B. DeMille movie starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard-- it even has Boris Karloff as a sinister Native American sachem).
I also recommend "Drums Along the Mohawk" and "The Whiskey Rebels."
I'm not a fan of Bernard Cornwell, so I can't recommend him, and I have not read M.T. Anderson. On the YA list, I preferred "Johnny Tremain" to "My Brother Sam is Dead," but both my children disagree.
I had read the Roberts books, and Drums years and years ago. Excellent books. Whiskey Rebels was my airplane book last month. Liss weaves a complex and fascinating story.
Have you read the Mason books I suggested back in April. If you like Roberts, you'll like them.
BTW, saying that Fast had 'socialist tendencies' begs the question. He was an active member of the Communist Party from 1943 or '44 until 1956. During WWII many of the writers (and other entertainment types) who had joined the Party during the '30s had left, either when Stalin signed the non-aggression pact with Hitler, or when the US entered the war. He joined during the war, and
through the start of the Cold War, and through the Korean War and beyond he remained in the Party. One might surmise--I have no way of knowing--that it took the Soviet invasion of Hungary in '56 for him to see the light. He was jailed for contempt of congress, not for his 'tendencies'. Whether or not HUAC should have head those hearings is a matter for debate. Whether he should have been blacklisted is also a matter for debate, but the moguls acceded to it to cover their seats.
A newer publication is Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore. It is set in the pre-Revolutionary War period in Boston. It interweaves the social unrest leading up to the Revolution, a little romance (not an overwhelming amount), struggling artists (including a woman) and intrigue.
The authors are established academics and have won prizes for their academic writing and knowledge. So this book let them "play" with the historical facts in a fictional form. It keeps the historical authenticity of the period.
Thank you, varielle, for mentioning Fletcher and Albemarle. I had quite forgotten them. Ms Fletcher wrote seven novels about the Carolina colonies. Beside Men of Albemarle, I read Lusty Wind for Carolina, and Roanoke Hundred.
I read those novels shortly after reading the Mason books (mes. 15) and did enjoy them, but obviously not enough to remember them.
Many of the older books we remember are no longer found on public library shelves, being rotated out for more current publications. This is not always the public service it would seem to be.
Add 1-13: Yesterday PM I went to the central Pasadena (CA) Library to test my comment above. Pasadena has a quite good library system for a city its size (c. 200,000). The only book they have by Ms Fletcher is Roanoke Hundred.
((Copperhead ))and ((Rebel)) by Bernard Cornwell were a great read for me!
A Ride Into Morning - YA (young adult). A great read by Ann Rinaldi.
A Stitch in Time - YA. Another one by Ann Rinaldi, and the first in a trilogy, if you like this first one (the rest are not about the Revolutionary War, though).
An Enemy Among Them - YA. About a girl who befriends a soldier on the opposite side.
Arrow Over the Door - YA. About how the Native American Indians felt about the Revolutionary War.
Blooding at Great Meadows - About George Washington... Not the most exciting of reads, but educational.
Cast Two Shadows - YA. By Ann Rinaldi again. This book is amazing!
Finishing Becca - YA. By Ann Rinaldi. I love this one, too!
Johnny Tremain - Children's. Great book about the Revolutionary War.
Just Jane - YA. One of my FAVORITE Revolutionary War books! This one is amazing!
My Brother Sam is Dead - YA.
Or Give Me Death - YA. By Ann Rinaldi. An interesting look inside the family of Patrick Henry.
The Fifth of March - YA. By Ann Rinaldi. About the Boston Massacre.
The Secret of Sarah Revere - YA. By Ann Rinaldi. A great book about Paul Revere's daughter.
The Trouble with Tea - YA. Great book about the Revolutionary War, romance, and adventure.
Time Enough For Drums - YA. By Ann Rinaldi. A romantic Revolutionary War story.
The Fighting Ground - By Avi. Children's. About one day in a soldier's life.
War Comes to Willy Freeman - YA. An escaped slave disguises herself as a boy during the Revolutionary War.
Who Is Carrie? - YA. About slavery and spies during the Revolutionary War.
Meet Felicity - Children's. If you have kids, this series by American Girl was one of my favorite's growing up.
Chains by Laurie Halse Andersen is fabulous, but it doesn't end, she is currently writing the second part.
It does center on slavery during the Rev. War but there is lots of good historical war "stuff" to sink your teeth into.
More Revolutionary War novels:
Karen Swee (adult, New England):
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Murder
Margaret Lawrence (adult, post-RevWar, Maine)
Hearts and Bones
Blood Red Roses
The Burning Bride
Margaret Miles (adult, pre-RevWar, New England)
A Wicked Way to Burn
Too Soon for Flowers
No Rest for the Dove
A Mischief in the Snow
Christine Swager (YA, Southern theater)
Black Crows & White Cockades
If Ever Your Country Needs You
Sheila Ingle (YA, Southern theater)
Suzanne Adair (that's me, adult, Southern theater)
Paper Woman (Patrick D. Smith award winner)
The Blacksmith's Daughter
Camp Follower (finalist for Daphne du Maurier and Sir Walter Raleigh awards)
MarysGirl, alas, Karen Swee is no longer with us. She'd been at work on a sequel when she died. Of all the books in Jakes's series, I thought that The Bastard was his best. His later work Charleston began during the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, but IMHO the writing wasn't as tight, plus I kept bumping into historical details that weren't right.
It's funny how the same book can strike people differently. I read The Bastard way back when. I never got a feel for time and place in the narration. The TV version was one of the few instances where I thought the film better than the book.
See post# 15 above (one of the first when I joined LT) for my comment there, and a recommendation for what I think is a better series of novels about the same period.
Hi John, I just checked my library for _Three Harbours_ et al., and they don't have the series, so I'll have to request it via ILL.
IMHO Jakes got lucky with his series. He isn't a brilliant writer, but the Bicentennial was handy, and he didn't have heavy competition. If you're published today and writing about teenagers, vampires, and werewolves, you have the same sort of luck, and you don't have to be a brilliant writer. :-)
Shadow Patriots by Lucia St. Clair Robson
This is an excellent book and will keep you interested.
Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War by Edwin Burrows This one is nonfiction.
"Oliver Wiswell", by Kenneth Roberts--and yes it's about a Loyalist. Considering when it was written, I suppose it may have been daring stuff then.
Much more recently, "Washington and Caesar" by Chris Cameron--a tale about an escaped slave in the British Army in the American revolution. Not your usual point of view.
rnsulentic, I was fine with Oliver Wiswell until the scene where the horse was mutilated, at which point I closed the book. Sure, animals were mutilated in the Revolutionary War and throughout history. But I generally find that violence toward animals in books is the author's overkill (pardon the pun): an attempt to reinforce that bad guys who we already know are bad really really are bad. The author then comes off as unsure of the power of their own words. And if you ask yourself whether the animal violence scene was truly necessary to advance the plot, most of the time you'll find that the answer is "no."
I admit to not having heard of or read Oliver Wiswell, although I did read Robert's's Northwest Passage way, way back when...
You note that you found a particular scene gratuitous, piling on to a list of the character's malbehaviors. Further, because of this description you closed the book.
You chastised the author for the scene, unless it would actually advance the plot. I infer that as you closed the book on that particular passage, you don't know if that action did or did not actually move the story forward. Perhaps, for instance, in karmic comeuppance, this vile person was later killed or mutilated by that horse or by another horse(s) or animals. Without the offending, prior description, such poetic justice might be just another riding accident or something similar.
Out of curiosity, if a book contained a battle scene between, say, Indians and Colonials wherein one of the victors scalps his defeated opponent, would have closed that book also? That often happened in reality, but might be gratuitous in the instance cited.
PS - I'm not criticizing your right to cease reading Wiswell, I just don't quite get the reason you did so, based on your comments, without finishing the book.
Oliver Wiswell which I read as a kid was an eye-opener to me about the whole Tory experience. The Revolution in the South was really a civil war; lots of Tory military units (line and partisan) took part. Interesting book, worth a read, particularly if you have an interest in the Southern Campaigns.
>jhowell~I Googled "American Revolutionary War novels" and came up with quite a few pages.
Jess Shaara's "Rise to Rebellion" portrays Ben Franklin, John Adams, General Thomas Gage, and George Washingtion in very human terms and does a fine job developing the rising sentiment of ordinary Americans for independence between the summers of 1775 and 1776. However, Shaara's narration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord is surprisingly inaccurate and woefully lacking in detail.
David Taylor wrote 3 Revolutionary War novels that I know of in the late 50s and 60s.
Came across them in my school library, although I think they were written for adults. Farewell to Valley Forge, Mistress of the Forge and Storm the Last Rampart. I thought they were pretty great. Hardly anyone seems to know about them.
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson takes place after the revolution but is also an excellent period piece.
"Oliver Wiswell" by Kenneth Roberts is well worth reading in that it presents sympathetically the Tory point of view and narrates many important events of the War
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