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"Great American Rev Novels?" Topic

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716 hits since 28 Dec 2020
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Stalkey and Co28 Dec 2020 9:36 p.m. PST

I found a list here a few years ago – then my gaming interests went elsewhere for a while. Now the wheel has turned and I'm into Am Rev again.

But I can't find that list here at TMP!

There were some great books on it, and I got a few out of the library, but I can't remember what they were.

One that I was reading was about a light dragoon officer who had some great adventures around Philadelphia during the 1777 campaign. Anyone know the title of that one?

And, what are some other great AWI AmRev novels you have read?


42flanker Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2020 10:53 p.m. PST

My contribution to the list was 'The Long Knife' by Alexander Thom.

George Rogers Clark's expedition down the Ohio to St Louis and his mid-winter raid on Vincennes in British-held Illinois.

Also Robert Grave's two Sgt Lamb novels, 'Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth' and 'Proceed, Sergeant Lamb', based on Lamb's own memoirs. The AWI from the perspective of an articulate Irish soldier in the British army.

With the 9th to Canada. A mission to the Iroquois, Saratoga, escape to British lines, then southward with the 23rd Royal Welsh Fuzileers and service with Cornwallis, and Tarleton, in the Carolinas and Virginia….

"Most of what follows is true…"

Graves is always good company.

Huscarle29 Dec 2020 2:20 a.m. PST

Cato's War by Guy Wheeler

Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts

Various Howard Fast novels such as The Hessian, April Morning, etc

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 3:07 a.m. PST

Howard Fast's The Undefeated.

Cavcmdr29 Dec 2020 3:40 a.m. PST

The Fort by Bernard Cornwell.

THE FORT is about the Penobscot Expedition of 1779. A small British garrison had been established in what is now Maine (and was then part of Massachusetts), and the rebel government in Boston was determined to expel that garrison.

This is not really my area of interest but the book is a fantastic read.

Have fun, stay safe and stay sane.

khanscom29 Dec 2020 6:11 a.m. PST

Second Cavcmdr on "The Fort". Kenneth Roberts' "Arundel" is also good.

Stalkey and Co29 Dec 2020 9:12 a.m. PST

Hmm, library has the Graves books, so will give them a shot, I Claudius and all that. Of course, the historical merit to them may be dubious when you consider the age and that he's a poet.

Kenneth Roberts' books I have a few of, and they were good reading. I never heard of Oliver Wiswell, and hey, the Loyalists are under represented in general.

Far more dubious – so I'll pass – are the Howard Fast books. I bet they are engaging reading, but a hack writer of 80 books from new york, and communist party member, tells me there's another agenda.

Still trying to figure out the more modern books about the British officer running around Philadelphia in 1777 campaign. I think he was with the 16th Light Dragoons…

doc mcb29 Dec 2020 10:49 a.m. PST

Kenneth Roberts' RABBLE IN ARMS and ARUNDEL follows the northern campaigns, focusing on Arnold.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 2:13 p.m. PST

I liked "The Hornets Nest" by Jimmy Carter. It's historical fiction with focus on the southern states.

rmaker29 Dec 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

Not a novel, but G. B. Shaw's play Devil's Disciple is set in the Saratoga campaign.

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 3:10 p.m. PST

Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter Edmonds. A classic epic about a young man trying to establish his farm during the outbreak of the revolution in the Mohawk Valley. This work holds a particular place in my soul because I grew up in this same region, and my own ancestors numbered among the pioneers in this story.

Sundance29 Dec 2020 4:00 p.m. PST

There is a series about a Rev War American naval officer along the lines of Hornblower or Sharpe but I personally thought the writing sucked and it was neither interesting nor realistic.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 4:09 p.m. PST

Oh, there's certainly an agenda with Fast. It's those hardy proletarians from Marblehead who are critical, and not the stand of the aristocrats from Maryland and Philadelphia. But it's largely just that--leaving out the uncomfortable bits. Won't vouch for the later work, but The Undefeated is worth a look.

More generally, if I limited my books to the authors whose politics and religion I agreed with, I'd lose some excellent fiction, and there isn't enough good stuff anyway.

How many books do you have to write to become a hack? As many as Edgar Rice Burroughs? John Creasy? As many plays as Shakespeare?

rmaker29 Dec 2020 8:50 p.m. PST

Another classic – Fenimore Cooper's The Spy.

Peter C Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2020 6:53 a.m. PST

Cornwall wrote another AMREV book, The Redcoat. Very nice and set in the New Jersey, Philly area.

Stalkey and Co30 Dec 2020 8:24 a.m. PST

I find Cornwell pretty formulaic. After a few chapters, I can pretty much guess what is happening the rest of the way. Sometimes his evocative descriptions of life long ago make the trip worth it anyway. Sometimes they don't.

@ Piepenbrink
Hack writers use a proven emotional formula into which they smoosh [sometimes crush] reality, history, etc. Personally, I'd rather read the real history or a novelist that is more faithful to the history than his formula.
YouTube link

So in this Fast novel, does the Hessian befriend a Loyalist orphan or a Patriot orphan? Maybe he has a lovable dog? Perhaps a dame who's a Patriot? "Let Bart take a crack at it!" Well, actually it should be "Let Fast take a crack at it!"

Texaswalker30 Dec 2020 1:50 p.m. PST

"I bet they are engaging reading, but a hack writer of 80 books from new york, and communist party member, tells me there's another agenda."

I have not read his books and he was a communist and probably was pushing agendas, but I was curious, and found it interesting that he changed his political views later in life: from wiki article: "In his autobiographical work titled The Naked God: The Writer and the Communist Party published in 1957, he wrote: There was the evil in what we dreamed of as Communists: we took the noblest dreams and hopes of mankind as our credo; the evil we did was to accept the degradation of our own souls—and because we surrendered in ourselves, in our own party existence, all the best and most precious gains and liberties of mankind—because we did this, we betrayed mankind, and the Communist party became a thing of destruction."

doc mcb30 Dec 2020 2:15 p.m. PST

Fast was devoted to liberty and foolishly imagined, pre-Stalin, that the Communists were a source of it. His novels are good reads. I liked MY GLORIOUS BROTHERS about the Maccabees. No idea how accurate it is.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2020 2:47 p.m. PST

Hmph. First, my mistake. Should have written The Unvanquished (1942.) Second, having picked up some of Fast's autobiographical material later, I tend not to believe a word he says to his own credit. And there is no other Fast on my shelves.

But this one he did right. No Hessians with lovable dogs, and Tories are opportunistic traitors. It's basically the Retreat Across the Jerseys, and an army in a good cause, but horribly unprepared dwindling daily--all but a hard core which will not do the sane, sensible thing and give up. The book ends with them loading the boats to cross the Delaware.

I don't buy and read the average of an author's work, nor the personal or political morality of the author. I buy and read well-written stories and this is one.

Stalkey and Co31 Dec 2020 6:29 p.m. PST

okey dokey – but I still find Cornwell predictable, and I doubt I'd enjoy Fast.

My mom and sister used to watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island back to back in the early 80s. They would successfully predict everything that was going to happen to each border of the boat, and each person debarking from the plane.

Obviously, I didn't bother to watch those shows with them around.

I've a friend who writes scripts in Hollywood, she's very revealing and interesting to talk to. It's a highly technical type of writing, and very formulaic. That's fine, it's how they make money. But I'm not going to watch "The Patriot" even if it has Mel Gibson and decide it is history [altho I bet a lot of people did].

So…all this to say, passing on the Fast novels. And the Cornwell novels, frankly, and dubious about Shaara.

Still looking for those books about the British light cavalry fellow – and I found them on Amazon years ago, and got them from the library. Now, can't remember…

Huscarle01 Jan 2021 4:23 a.m. PST

Try this list – 143 novels set in the American Revolution

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2021 7:17 a.m. PST

Ok. Don't bother reading Fast. Your loss.
His "agenda", if you want to call it that, is that the Revolution was truly a Revolution, with all that implies.
April Morning and The Crossing are two that were made into fine TV movies.

For being a revolutionary and a Commie, he had a great deal of respect for the aristocratic George Washington. And he could even make the miserable human being Tom Paine interesting. Read Citizen Tom Paine to see this tired old failure sit down and write The Crisis after a hard march retreating across the Jerseys. You can really feel that "These are the times that try men's souls."

But if you really feel that a writer could not come of age in the 30s and 40s and not be a Commie, then avoid him at all costs.
By the way, you should also forbid yourself from watching Spartacus, Masada or Zulu if a hint of Red upsets you. Like I said, your loss.

WillBGoode Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2021 8:05 a.m. PST

Well said!

Stalkey and Co02 Jan 2021 6:17 p.m. PST

Interesting how you're completely missing the point.

But you're loss, for not reading closely.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2021 6:23 p.m. PST

Not a hill to die on.
Have a nice day.

Stalkey and Co02 Jan 2021 6:32 p.m. PST

Please, knock over more strawmen – they're everywhere you're posting! They're taking over – AAAAGHGHGHGHGH!

doc mcb02 Jan 2021 7:19 p.m. PST

I read the Fast novels in college, which was 50 years ago. No doubt my tastes have matured, but i enjoyed them then.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Jan 2021 11:36 a.m. PST

I love the film of The Crossing, and I'm interested in the novels. I don't know what Stalkey's problem is— I'm no lover of Marxist theory at any level— but I don't see any of it in the film (screenplay by Fast, IIRC), and I doubt it's present in the novel, either. At worst he favors the "working men" of Gloucester and skewers the aristocratic and wealthy and arrogant Gates (deservedly so), but as the OFM notes, he presents Washington with great respect as an example of true leadership, and treats his subordinate officers with general respect for their intelligence and courage— both those from the aristocratic class and the mercantile men as well— not a point of view a true Marxist would hold.
In short, I think he did indeed find he "had a brain" at forty. There is no indoctrination going on here.

Oh, as for predicting things… well, it's the American Revolution. I think we all know how it turns out. The story is in the process, not the outcome (or the details). (It's also absurd to pick out the moronically simplistic mass-audience sitcoms of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, geared for the Lowest Common Denominator, and think that these are representative of the quality of other works on film or television. "Ninety percent of everything is crud."— Theodore Sturgeon. But that means that ten percent is actually good. Look for the good, and you will find it. Reject it all as bad, and you'll miss out.

Back OT:
I did enjoy Shaara's For the Glorious Cause novels, though they're not as strong as his father's work.

Bellerophon199305 Jan 2021 12:16 p.m. PST

How is all this attacking of a writer being a communist not in violation of the politics rules?

Fast also wrote Spartacus, so maybe you're concerned about him being anti-slavery too, hmmm?

Stalkey and Co06 Jan 2021 7:11 a.m. PST

It is unsurprising that drama is being created here over nothing.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2021 12:33 p.m. PST

Stalkey. Did you or did you not write

Far more dubious – so I'll pass – are the Howard Fast books. I bet they are engaging reading, but a hack writer of 80 books from new york, and communist party member, tells me there's another agenda.

I copied it from a post by you above.

If there's any "drama" here, you started the notion that since Fast was a communist in his youth, you would reject him.
Now, if by "drama", you mean disputing that as a reason to reject his work, well then call me Shakespeare for daring to disagree with you. My bad. grin

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