Ethan Allen: His Life and Times
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Ethan Allen: His Life and Times

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  77 ratings  ·  18 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...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

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...more
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
Carl Rollyson
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...more
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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...more
Catherine Woodman
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
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.
Gary Land
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
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
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.
Merry Gangemi
Will Randall's biography of Ethan Allen is simply fascinating and he explains complex cultural, social, and political in language that is accessible and intelligent without an iota of pretension. A terrific read and an important one for anyone who wants to better understand the realities of America's origins. Michelle Bachman and cohorts would do well to read it; not skim it; read it!
Rick Hautala
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 ...
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.
Nancy Knab
A well-written summary of Ethan Allen's contribution to the independence and subsequent statehood of Vermont.
Fascinating man,
Especially time as a
Prisoner of war.
Pollyanne Frantz
Good bio. of an interesting man.
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