With this latest round of reading, I have read a whopping 27 books related to the historical period in the last year.
The second book is one for intermediate grade children. Titled The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, this book banners a subtitle of A Handbook for Time Travelers. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories as long as they are told well, but this is not a novel. The book is set up as if the reader has purchased a tourist package back in time to the Revolution. Interlaced with humor, the line between silliness and facts is clear, and the book has much to offer for someone who wants to learn. Some serious topics are approached in a light-hearted manner that doesn't portray the realism of consequences during the founding period, but it's also a welcome relief to laugh once in a while and not take everything so seriously.
I asked for two books for Christmas: The first, American Crisis, was written by William Fowler Jr. Bill was the lead scholar during my summer residency at George Washington's Mount Vernon, and I came to greatly appreciate his expert historical knowledge and his presentation skills. I wish I could imagine his voice, with its thick Boston accent, while reading what he wrote in this volume, but I had to really focus to do so. In places, the book seemed to get the best of itself, including too many details along the way, and I got lost following all of the side paths. Still, I can't stay negative when talking about Dr. Fowler. I have fond memories of his presentations at Mount Vernon, from the centuries-old background to the Revolution, to his debate with an Englishman about the causes and reasons for the Revolution, to his hearty and beautiful and tearful account of General Washington's Newburgh address that likely averted a military coup on Congress. Fowler has written several books, but I chose this one because it includes Washington's address at the end of his military career.
Finally, I read Astoria, the second of my Christmas book requests. Astoria is set later in history, in the 1810s. It is a stretch to include in in a list of books about the revolutionary era, but with Thomas Jefferson as an influential character, I will allow it. Astoria was the pioneer settlement dreamed of and funded by John Jacob Astor for the purpose of cashing in on newly discovered opportunities for the fur trade. This comes on the heals of Lewis' and Clark's expedition, and piggybacks on information and maps drawn from their experience. Where Lewis and Clark only lost one explorer (to appendicitis), Astoria is laden with loss. From shipwreck at the treacherous Pacific mouth of the river to Native scalpings and other brutalities, from starvation to the heartbreaking loss of an infant born amidst the fray, Astoria saw its share of tragedy. That's not to mention the corporate competition that sparked infighting and backstabbing along the way. I went into this account without knowing anything about it. Peter Stark skillfully tells the story.