Most of the founding fathers are surrounded by so much literature that it is hard to know where to start and who to trust. Unfortunately, Joseph Warre...moreMost of the founding fathers are surrounded by so much literature that it is hard to know where to start and who to trust. Unfortunately, Joseph Warren has been all but forgotten by modern Americans--and, sadder yet, even most history books only mention him nominally. As a result, researching Warren is a frustrating task unless you live in or near Boston and have direct access to their historical records.
For those of us who know about and value Dr. Joseph Warren's contributions to the American Revolution, Dr. Forman's book is a sigh of relief.
This biography is the book I wish had been written when I started my own research on Warren years ago. Dr. Warren was a complex and enigmatic figure. He also needs to be understood in many different roles: doctor, patriot, writer, free mason, politician, soldier, as well as in the context of his family, that writing about him can become difficult.
This biography manages to shed light on every aspect of Dr. Warren's life, which helps him emerge in three dimensions for the first time. Forman approaches his subject topically in order to fully address each area. For instance, Forman devotes an entire chapter to Warren as doctor, but doesn't simply talk about his medical training or his patients tended to. He also covers 18th Century medicine as a whole, in order to understand Warren's approach to medicine in the context of his times, and how he fit the standards and expectations of his day, and how he broke apart from them.
You can expect the same treatment from every chapter.
From someone who researched Warren extensively (as an amateur) it was obvious to me how much first hand research Forman did for this biography. This is *not* a regurgitation of information you can find in other sources. Forman dug deep in the primary records not just pertaining to Warren, but also those around him. As a result, every chapter is full of brand new discoveries which helped me understand Joseph Warren less as a martyr-patriot hero, but as a real man, with real motives. This is the first book to truly bring him to life for me.
You'll be surprised to find the information uncovered here which definitively answers the question of how Warren died (a 236 year old mystery solved!) as well as his ambitious workings behind the scenes to gain influence and power as a freemason, and some juicy insights into his love life!
Any student of the Revolution needs to read this book, and get to know this forgotten, but essential Founder.(less)
Now that that is out of the way, it was an entertaining read, and it brought to light the plight of the Contine...moreFirst: This book is Historical Fiction.
Now that that is out of the way, it was an entertaining read, and it brought to light the plight of the Continental Army during their first winter at Valley Forge.
If you're interested in history but just cannot make your way through a real non-fiction history book, I recommend it. If you're interested in history and need a break from all your real non-fiction history books, I also recommend it.
That being said, it was overly sentimental. I got bored with all of the men being overcome with emotion and choking back tears every other chapter. The only character in the British Army who is sympathetic is an American Loyalist who never really fits in with his chosen side, and, predictably, comes to realize the Americans are the noble pure and true fighting force, and that he should have enlisted with them.
I also found the long, drawn out conversations on liberty and freedom to be heavy handed. Most men fighting would not and could not have articulated these things. They were fighting for much less lofty reasons. Thomas Paine put into words they could not, which was the magic of his writing and why it connected with the common man.
That being said, the book makes Valley Forge vivid. His caricatures of famous men we know and love are lively and fun. So read it and enjoy.(less)
I'm going to give this book four starts just because the man wrote a book about Dr. Joseph Warren, America's forgotten patriot and my favorite.
That be...moreI'm going to give this book four starts just because the man wrote a book about Dr. Joseph Warren, America's forgotten patriot and my favorite.
That being said, I can't imagine someone not interested in Warren or at least the times reading more than the first few pages of this. The author does a good job filling in the missing information from Warren's life, but I found myself frustrated wondering if he had access to more research than me or if he had been inventing a lot of details. (It turns out it is the later.) Read and enjoy, but know that fiction is stuck in the holes where fact is missing.
I also thought that John Warren, a man full of personality, really lacked any kind of a voice as a narrator, aside from blind admiration for his big brother. The real John Warren is a lot more colorful and emotional than this little book would have you believe.
All that being said, there isn't much in the way of Joseph Warren related material out there to chose from. This is the shortest and quickest to read. I hope you do pick it up! If for no other reason than to support the effort the author is making.(less)
This was a good book if for no other reason then it addresses a seldom talked about aspect of history. The author approached the slave ship from the p...moreThis was a good book if for no other reason then it addresses a seldom talked about aspect of history. The author approached the slave ship from the perspective of the captains, the crew, the merchants, the slaves, and abolitionists. He told lots and lots of stories, which brought their experiences to life, and took all of his stories (seemingly) from first hand accounts. I can not put into words, though, why I didn't love this book. It could have been as simple as his writing style didn't have much imagination. It could also have been that I thought the narrator on the audio book was dry, as I listened to this one.
I thought that his conclusion, where he attempted to rally modern readers into taking action to redress the wounds of the slave trade was weak and inconclusive. He didn't really come up with a tangible solution, and praised the steps that the US and Britain had taken so far, but for what we should do beyond that, just told a story of African slaves caring for their one time guards and said we should take their example. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by that, besides be kind to each other and forgive? It felt like a weak attempt to get political without being able to offer a real solution, and I thought it detracted from the rest of the book.
Aside from the epilogue, it was a fantastic learning experience and my hat is off to him for writing it.(less)
Even though this will never go down as one of my favorite books, the chapter on Elizabeth Loring (aka "Mrs. Loring, General Howe's infamous mistress)...moreEven though this will never go down as one of my favorite books, the chapter on Elizabeth Loring (aka "Mrs. Loring, General Howe's infamous mistress) was invaluable to me. The author is a descendant of hers, and his interest in his own ancestry lead him to research Betsy Loring more thoroughly than anyone else. All of the information I've ever found on her-from history books even-was hearsay and legend. Young was able to track down her birth records, her epitaph, her wedding date, information on her children, a probable portrait and more. The chapter is not very long, and there is still much we'll never know, but it's the most substantially researched article on her (and also on Joshua Loring Jr., her husband) that I've ever found.(less)
There are only two biographies on Dr. Joseph Warren, and this is one is more recent than its predecessor by 100 years. It's also more readable.
John Ca...moreThere are only two biographies on Dr. Joseph Warren, and this is one is more recent than its predecessor by 100 years. It's also more readable.
John Cary breaks down Warren's life into chapters, each dealing with a theme most predominate during those years. This book is thoroughly researched, and well footnoted. Cary deals with the primary documents seemingly wherever possible. He makes the claim (and backs it up) that Warren, along with Samuel Adams, was the most influential men in starting the American Revolution. Which might surprise modern Americans who have never heard of him.
My only complaint with the book is his lack of attention to Warren's personal life. I think this came from the lack of surviving documentation concerning it, and also because Warren devoted so much of his life to his practice and politics that there was little time for anything else. There were several footnotes, however, that lead me to believe Cary had more information on the subject than he used.(less)
I really enjoyed Ira Stoll's take on Samuel Adams, and his attempt to restore him to his rightful place as one of the most influential men of the Amer...moreI really enjoyed Ira Stoll's take on Samuel Adams, and his attempt to restore him to his rightful place as one of the most influential men of the American Revolution, and certainly as the firecracker who started it all. He also establishes the role of his faith in his life, beliefs and decisions. When most biographies on the founders show how far from faith they really were, the same cannot be said of Samuel Adams who was a man of deep, unshakable religious convictions. Ira Stoll states that Adams has been known as "The Last Puritan" but was really "The First American."
I wished that there had been more time devoted to the men whom he collaborated with: Joseph Warren, John Hancock, James Otis, Benjamin Church... and they do get more than mentions, but I love all the minds that started the Revolution up in Boston and this book really just focuses on one. (less)
I wish that David Hackett Fisher wrote a book about every subject I was interested in. He writes the way my mind works--following every rabbit down it...moreI wish that David Hackett Fisher wrote a book about every subject I was interested in. He writes the way my mind works--following every rabbit down its hole and yet finds a way of not loosing track of what he's talking about in the midst of all that exploration. He flushes out his subjects and events so completely that you can see them from angles you've never looked at them before, which makes his approach holistic in a way very few history books are.
Paul Revere's Ride is no exception to this assessment. When I was at Bunker Hill this summer, I noticed one of the Rangers reading this book at the information counter. So I asked her how it was because it had been on my 'To Read' list a long time. She looked up at me, and, a bit exasperated, said, "Paul Revere was really only in the first chapter. Now he keeps talking about all these other guys." I said, "Does he tell you about all the different militias, and who was fighting where and when?!" She said, "Yeah. You'll love it if you're into that stuff..."
Well, love it I did.
I've read a lot on the Revolution, I've visited Lexington and Concord, I've toured the historic sites in the area, and still this book was full of fresh information that made me appreciate the events of April 19 in a new way that was, admittedly, a bit horrifying. The battles that day were an organized bloodbath against the British Army. This book shocked me, and I loved it for it.
If you want to revisit an old subject in a new way, take this book off your "To Read" list and start it today.(less)
I can't believe I forgot to add this book! Joseph Martin's account of his experiences in the Revolutionary War (from Long Island to Yorktown) are a mu...moreI can't believe I forgot to add this book! Joseph Martin's account of his experiences in the Revolutionary War (from Long Island to Yorktown) are a must read for any history buff. Martin got through the war using his sense of humor, and it comes out pricelessly in his memoirs. If I could recommend one book on the American Revolution, it would be this one.(less)
This book isn't about the Revolutionary War, but instead the Revolutionary Era. It follows the story of minister/scientist/politician Joseph Priestly,...moreThis book isn't about the Revolutionary War, but instead the Revolutionary Era. It follows the story of minister/scientist/politician Joseph Priestly, who was a British Citizen and only came to American after the Revolution was over, to escape mobs who had destroyed his home and were coming after his family. Johnson does a good job of showing how these areas (faith, science, politics) are interconnected, despite the modern attempt to isolate them from one another. He shows us that they were essentially connected in the minds of 18th Century inhabitants, and that one cannot claim to follow the ideologies of the Founders without accepting this relationship.
I went into the book fearing that it was going to read as a rant on modern politics but found it remarkably evenhanded. In any event, it was a fresh take on that generation and those times. If you're interested in Franklin, Adams or Jefferson, it's a great read on understanding the interesting life of this friend who deeply influenced them all.(less)
Not the greatest book ever written, but informative. The author's writing style isn't very creative but it is nice to read an entire book devoted to t...moreNot the greatest book ever written, but informative. The author's writing style isn't very creative but it is nice to read an entire book devoted to this great man.(less)