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Ethan Allen: His Life and Times

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  107 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
On May 10, 1775, in the storm-tossed hours after midnight, Ethan Allen, the Revolutionary firebrand, was poised for attack. With only two boatloads of his scraggly band of Vermont volunteers having made it across the wind-whipped waters of Lake Champlain, he was waiting for the rest of his Green Mountain boys to arrive. But with the protective darkness quickly fading, Alle ...more
Hardcover, 617 pages
Published August 22nd 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2011)
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Adam Tschorn
As any student of Vermont history can tell you — and the recent flood devastation in that state underscores all too well — water has played a huge role in shaping what would become the 14th state to join the Union. The Connecticut River forms Vermont's eastern border with New Hampshire, and Lake Champlain forms the majority of the state's western border with New York.

But the boundary lines of current-day Vermont were hardly the result of riparian randomness: The future state was carved out of co
James Eckman
Feb 09, 2016 James Eckman rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Why read about Ethan? He's an example of our non-aristocratic founding fathers. He was always a kind of a non-conformist and troublemaker, especially about religion. He was booted from several towns for it. He was also intelligent, missing his chance to attend Yale, he managed to self educate himself and wrote extensively, including an influential deist/what? tract. He was also a hardworking business man and also quite the land speculator. One of the defining points of his life was the property ...more
Lauren Albert
Ethan Allen was a man that I think I knew about only as a name in relationship to the Revolutionary war. I didn't know that he was responsible for the first offensive action in the war--the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. I didn't know that he was held as a POW (and cruelly mistreated) by the British for almost 3 years. His captivity narrative was the best selling book of the time after Tom Paine's Common Sense. He also was a (or the) founder of Vermont. But Randall does not neglect the negative si ...more
Thomas Kidd
Aug 31, 2011 Thomas Kidd rated it it was ok

Most Americans, I suspect, think "furniture" when they hear the name Ethan Allen. But Allen was one of the most fascinating figures the American Revolution: hero of Fort Ticonderoga, leader of Vermont's Green Mountain Boys, religious skeptic, and a bit of a scoundrel.

Some overstate the prominence of deism in the Revolution, but certainly in Ethan Allen and his contemporary Tom Paine we find not only two honest-to-goodness deists, but also America's two bes
Mar 09, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2014 Iain rated it really liked it
Ethan Allen, one of the firebrands of the American Revolution, has fallen victim to history not being remembered as he should, a remarkable character in the founding of America. The date of May 10, 1775 is the singular event of note associated with Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys as they seized Fort Ticonderoga in a brazen pre-dawn attack. This early victory became the stuff of legend but it overshadowed Allen's life and times. Forging out the frontier as a successful explorer, businessm ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Shaun rated it it was amazing
Such a compelling read !
The Historian, W. Randall provides a detailed narrative not only
of Ethan Allen, but also provides a larger and detailed historical narrative,
as a backdrop to the struggles that propelled Allen to the status of
a prolific American Revolutionary Icon.
Sep 08, 2012 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
A must read about man who helped shape modern America, but is little known today. Randall does a fantastic job of explaining on Ethan Allen rose to become on of the most prominent men of the Revolutionary period.
Stephen Dutton
Apr 18, 2016 Stephen Dutton rated it really liked it
This book should be required reading for anyone who considers themselves to be a true Vermonter or a true New Englander. I dare say until one has read this history, one does not know much about Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, or Massachusetts and Connecticut or for that matter the American Revolution. It is amazing how much history you do not learn in school (and I mean "back then", today I fear for the youth of America who know approximately zero about this country unless they go to a charter ...more
Oct 02, 2015 MikeFromQueens rated it it was amazing
This book spoke to me. Randall painted a human picture of Ethan Allen, and depicted the changing times through Ethan Allen's life and place in history. I fully appreciated how Allen applied his courage to define Liberty for himself and like-minded settlers looking to live in Freedom and "the pursuit of happiness". Randall brought to life the inside story of persecution by Clinton and his NY lackys, and applied "the law" as an excuse to prosecute for their own profit and political power. Allen le ...more
Carl Rollyson
Jul 31, 2012 Carl Rollyson rated it really liked it
Type "Ethan Allen" (1738-89) into a Google search and you will find some wonderful decorating ideas. Oh, wait, was he the one who turned traitor during the American Revolution? No, that was Benedict Arnold. This kind of confusion is understandable, when every publishing season hails another biography of an august George Washington, a lofty Thomas Jefferson or -- not far behind -- a cantankerous but principled John Adams.

So it is a pleasure to descend into the trenches of U.S. history with Willar
Jul 30, 2013 Erik rated it it was ok
This is not what I was expecting at all.

The first few chapters tease about glorious exciting battles taking Fort Ticonderoga, but the majority of the book is a long, and I mean loooong, slow, boring exploration of the various theologies in pre-revolutionary America.

Not that these are not interesting subjects, it's just not what the cover and the blurbs I read that got me to buy the book had advertised.

The pace of the writing is very slow, and the constant flashing back and forth between differe
Mar 13, 2016 Henry rated it really liked it
A great book. I am intrigued by the great men who founded our country. And all the issues and back-biting that existed then as now. Especially interesting was learning about Ethan Allen's Puritan upbringing and how involved the church was in the early days of our politics. And how without Ethan Allen Vermont would not exist and probably be a part of New York.
Catherine Woodman
Jan 08, 2012 Catherine Woodman rated it liked it
I have been going to Vermont regularly for over 30 years, and have seen the Ethan Allen statue at the state capitol and been to his house in Burlington (which is not the house he spent most of his time in, I learned when I read this biography). But really, I knew very little about him other than that he died after falling on the ice on Lake Champlain, drunk--not very heroic. He is best known for taking Fort Tigonderoga very early in the war--A heroic and brave undertaking that he did with Benedi ...more
Gary Land
Oct 24, 2011 Gary Land rated it really liked it
Before reading this biography, I knew very little about Ethan Allen. Randall has certainly improved my knowledge as well as effectively placing Allen within the context of his time. I found particularly interesting the account of Allen's long struggle to establish the land interests of the Vermont farmers and speculators (including himself) against the domination of New York. Allen was not the easiest personality to deal with but he proved himself an effective leader for the interests of his (ev ...more
Deborah Britton
Nov 01, 2014 Deborah Britton rated it liked it
long and slow
Apr 13, 2012 Joe rated it really liked it
Having taught Vermont History at the high school level in Vermont, I was always frustrated that there was not a definitive book written about a man who was truly a legend in his own time. Randall brings objectivity to the table and as a result, makes Ethan Allen a real human being. Consequently I have come to appreciate Allen's contribution to Vermont's history and his role in the American story even more. A great read for those interested in biography in general and this character in particular ...more
Dan Schroeder
Jun 29, 2015 Dan Schroeder rated it liked it
Some very interesting information snuggled amidst some equally tedious reading. The writer's style was, for me, unnecessarily clause-ridden and bookish. I literally had to re-read many sentences multiple times to figure out the intent. Ethan Allen's life was an interesting one, but this book bogged down in back-story. Maybe necessary. But very noticeable.
Sep 02, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
This was a solid book. I knew virtually nothing about Ethan Allen other than the fact that he captured Ticonderoga during the war. This was a very thorough biography. However, most of what the book covered was his later life, in which he led the struggle for Vermont statehood. While somewhat intriguing, the history of Vermont can only be so interesting. But, it's worth spending the time to get through it.
Rick Hautala
Nov 20, 2011 Rick Hautala rated it really liked it
A bit chewy, maybe, but loaded with interesting facts and characters ... Maybe Vermont was a sideshow to the Revolution, but this book details how Allen was a key player and very much an :American." Highly recommended ...
Nancy Knab
Jan 12, 2013 Nancy Knab rated it really liked it
A well-written summary of Ethan Allen's contribution to the independence and subsequent statehood of Vermont.
May 05, 2012 David rated it liked it
Fascinating man,
Especially time as a
Prisoner of war.
Pollyanne Frantz
Oct 30, 2011 Pollyanne Frantz rated it really liked it
Good bio. of an interesting man.
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Willard Sterne Randall is an American historian and author who specializes in biographies related to the American colonial period and the American Revolution. He teaches American history at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
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