clever readers will have noticed long since this blog thing is more than half commonplace book. Please pardon one more installment before I get back to the real world doings. :)
So - Paul Revere's Ride - this one came heartily recommended by the Appleseed folks - the copy they had at their shindig a couple weeks ago was filled with placeholder tabs and handwritten margin notes.
Now I see why. :)
When my own copy gets here (this was a library copy - couldn't wait!) - I'll be transferring those notes over and doing some marginalia of my own.
As for the book -
First off, let me confess to my total crush on David Hackett Fischer. He's the same guy who wrote Albion's Seed that I'm constantly harping about*. Paul Revere's Ride is just as incredibly well done.
Now - the narrative. It sets the stage c. 1770 in Boston, and walks fairly quickly through the rising tensions of that half decade. The story starts picking up in greater detail with the 1774 Powder Alarms (i.e, the first two times the military governor sent soldiers on arms confiscations in the surrounding area). Then it gets into almost hour-by-hour detail from the moment the Lexington/Concord mission starts, through to when the Regulars straggle back into Charleston. Finally a brief nod to the impending siege of Boston by the Yankee militia, and a farewell "what happened to who" for most of the major players.
Now, here's is where Fischer gets awesome. Aside from the narrative itself, we get an extraordinarily good set of appendices - family trees, timelines, patriot group membership lists, British Army and Royal Navy lists, on and on. All those nit-pickety details.
Then we get historiography - he traces how different generations have framed the Revere tale, from early Patriot rabble-rousing through 19th c. legend-making, VietNam era slandering, and right back around again. Finally, a 28 page categorized annotated bibliography (for finding original sources in Google Books!) and over forty pages of end notes (the only gripe I have is I'd have preferred 'em as footnotes).
So - that's the book. Obviously - loved it.
Big things I learned -
*Yet more reasons to love Doctor Joseph Warren. The more I read, the more amazed I am how little space he gets in our popular images of the Revolution. Guy was amazing - I definitely have to make time for a biography of him soon.
* An even greater appreciation for just how personal it got. The Concord fight started as a military engagement. By the time the regulars straggled back through Concord, they were getting picked apart by old men and housewives shooting practically (sometimes literally) out their front doors.
* most of all...well - We'll tackle that tomorrow. It's worth a topic of it's own - and frightfully timely.
* For serious. That's still my "if you're only going to read ONE American history book ever" favorite
You might not get the long continuous narrative of a textbook - you'll even miss whole important swaths of the story - but what you *will* get is a deeper appreciate for how all those little parts of American got their flavor and quirks in the first place.