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The Fort by Bernard Cornwell
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The Fort (edition 2010)

by Bernard Cornwell

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4661622,239 (3.51)20
Member:YossarianXeno
Title:The Fort
Authors:Bernard Cornwell
Info:London: HarperCollins, 2010. Hardback, First Edition, First Printing.
Collections:Your library, 1st Edition, Fiction, Read in 2012
Rating:***1/2
Tags:American War of Independence fiction

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The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

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    Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell (ANeumann)
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    Night Soldiers by Alan Furst (ANeumann)
    ANeumann: Another great historical novel of a different era.
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Even though I’m from New England and read a bit more than average about the American Revolutionary War, I’d never heard of the Penobscot Expedition at all. That’s what attracted me to this book and for the most part it kept me engaged. Towards the end though, it seemed needlessly drawn out and I skimmed some of the last 50 pages or so. The reason was that we’d been too long with one particular scene - the battle at Majabigwaduce which became a very costly American loss. There was one scene, a bit more than half-way through that was off location and featured new characters, but it was too little too late and was abrupt and felt out of place. Also, it had no repercussions on the main theater so I don’t know why Cornwell put it in.

That said, some of the characterizations were pretty great. Doctor Calef, while he didn’t turn out to have much page time, was the total asshole of the piece. Lovell the hapless idiot with feet too small for the shoes he was trying to fill. Saltonstall the stubborn tactician, all brains and no heart. Revere the slinking coward, too prideful to put his own interests ahead of the cause he bellowed so loudly about. McLean the fair and experienced General who uses craft and logic to defeat an enemy too unsure and undisciplined to win this battle. Wadsworth who, in opposite fashion of Lovell, grows into his boots and uses his powers of persuasion to affect change within his army.

It was hard not to judge the loyalists too harshly, but in the end I found myself siding with them in the face of the sheer stupidity and obstructionism of the American leaders. Lovell was always getting ahead of himself picturing himself covered in glory and using their lone captured British flag as a napkin. He was a buffoon. He couldn’t see that the battery at Cross Island was a throw away. A feint to buy time for McLean to finish the fort. If he’s just pulled on his big boy pants and attacked the day they landed, Fort George would have been theirs. Ah hesitation, doubt and fear. It’s what separates a professional from an amateur and in hindsight, it’s a wonder there is a United States at all.

Another thing that Cornwell does well is depict the individual circumstances and decisions that led to the big defeat. You could easily see them circling the drain from a lot of mistakes and stubborn clashes of will. The ammo not matching the guns. Not having enough boats to land the infantry at once. Not taking advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness or clandestine information (a nice bit of spying between James and Beth Fletcher). Revere, Lovell and Saltonstall all pursuing their personal agendas instead of working as a team. Pathetic about sums it up.

Those who can’t stomach graphic battle descriptions may want to avoid this one. Never before had I thought of the phrase ‘swab the deck’ in terms of washing away blood, viscera and bone. I should have, but wow, that was a stark revelation. That and being blinded by shards of wood flying into one’s eyes. Being completely eviscerated by cannon balls. One’s head exploding by a pistol fired at close range. An unarmed boy being clubbed to death. Bayoneting, scalping and swordplay also come into things. Lots of ways to die and none of them easy.

So while the ending was a foregone conclusion, the book still provided enough tension to be interesting. Should have been shorter though, or included other storylines to break up the monotony of the endlessly slipping battle on what is now the Maine coast. Maybe shorten up the scenes at Penobscot in favor of adding the fallout which was Saltonstall’s dismissal from the Continental Navy and Paul Revere’s eventual court martial. For me, those would have been more interesting storylines than what was in the book. One of these days I want to get up and see the fort, which is still there. ( )
  Bookmarque | Feb 27, 2015 |
Penobscot battle- worst American defeat in Revolutionary War, so ending no surprise. Personalities run the story. Brits shown as neutral and heroic and Americans perfidious. Good to see another perspective. Surprising expose of the real Pual Revere as capricious, insubordinate, cowardly -- wasn't only one to warn of Brits coming. Longfellow created heroic image. Author's endnotes are very revealing. ( )
  jenzbaker | Jan 17, 2015 |
After reading The Fort I have come to the conclusion that we were very lucky to have won the war. If more leaders had been like the ones in charge at Penobscot we would have lost. I am also going to have to read some more on Paul Revere, he is not the hero history has made him out to be. All In all this is a very well written book that holds your attention and uses historical fact for its main theme and only adds to it for readers enjoyment. It's another good story from Mr. Cornwell. ( )
  Philip100 | Sep 23, 2014 |
Enjoyed this,swift moving adventure. ( )
  babybelle | Aug 2, 2013 |
what to say about this book... alot really. it was written very well and i loved how he showed what was history and how to tell what was character as you read. it has alot of information in there but by the time i was done some illusions were shattered. for example i now have to say that if rest of our military was like these then it is only because of divine intervention that we became the united states. that solomon lovell deserves to be outed as a coward and failure along with saltstall. and dare i get into paul revere?? holy crap... we won the war despite these people not with them. revere was a major coward and had a god complex the size of the u.s. i can't say enough about him except that i get angry thinking about all the crap they tell us in school that is so SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO inaccurate. there are rumors about him around but this book gives a hellofa good dose of reality towards his real character. his family should be ashamed. and i don't believe in the sins of the father, but they should still be ashamed.
one last thing... why haven't we heard of general wadsworth? he should be touched on by teachers and more pronounced in our history. not just due to his courage and tenacity of this battle but due to his whole history. i run into this sort of thing alot where i get historical info that is never brought forward that is so essential to a real view or our history and am amazed that it isn't ever brought to light. ok, maybe in revere's place they needed a hero, but we don't anymore. the more i learn history the more i learn the travisties of those hidden that deserve and or should be brought to light. the winners write history and usually they're full of shit. ( )
1 vote krushkelsey | Apr 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
There are obvious parallels in Cornwell’s tale with contemporary events in modern America. We owe it to ourselves and our posterity to re-examine the actual events of the Revolution and redeem the lives of those Americans who suffered and died in miserable, out-of-the-way places like the Penobscot. Let’s skip the varnish on the statue in the town square and instead listen to the truths of the lives and deaths of the men whom that statue memorializes. Bernard Cornwell, British by birth, has served up a delicious dish of gray truth. That, friends, is love for our great nation.
 
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The Fort is dedicated, with great admiration, to Colonel John Wessmiller, US Army (Retired), who would have known just what to do.
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There was not much wind so the ships headed sluggishly upriver.
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After the British establish a fort on the Penobscot River, the Massachusetts patriots--among them General Peleg Wadsworth and Colonel Paul Revere--mount an expedition to oust the redcoats.

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