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Crossing Point

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Based closely on the known historical record, Crossing Point brings to life the American Revolution in all of its bloody detail.
When the Revolutionary War begins, Guy Watson is a slave to the Hazzard family in Rhode Island, but he is soon engaged in service for the American army by Samuel Ward, head of one of the families that hired him from the Hazzards. Torn about leaving his beloved June and the other slaves that have become his family, Guy eventually sets out with Samuel Ward and a battalion of men on a treacherous, and legendary, trek to Quebec.
The two men experience the inevitable toll the brutality of war takes, and it changes them forever. Upon their eventual return home, they come to realize the cost of war not just for those in battle, but also for those who stayed. Crossing Point vividly shares a little-known chapter in the national founding, and raises the question of what justice was fought for by the men who faced an uncertain freedom when the last shots were fired.

Paperback

Published October 17, 2017

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James Glickman

2 books3 followers

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for Jane.
1,496 reviews169 followers
August 7, 2019
A different and very engrossing slant on the American Revolution, emphasizing the role of a black slave in the colony of Rhode Island, Guy Watson, property of the Hazzard family and a talented carpenter. He is rented out to Samuel Ward, an officer in the Continental army and accompanies him on the disastrous march on Quebec, brainchild of then-Col. Benedict Arnold [before his treachery]. We also follow Ward and the Hazzard family through the whole revolution. Much space is taken up with descriptions of battles in which the First Rhode Island Regiment takes part. I actually skimmed over some of that. Guy finally becomes a soldier with other black men; all are now freed. At the Battle of Turkey Hill he fights valiantly against Hessians and the British. Young John Hazzard, for cowardice under fire, and Guy, accused of spying, are both hauled up before a court martial. The court martial frames the whole story. Will Guy be acquitted?

I learned a lot about the nitty-gritty of military life back then and the lives of the common citizenry. I had not known, for instance, there were slaves in New England at that time. I thought the best part was the march to Quebec, dangers and obstacles faced: portages, raging river, blizzard, desertion of the quartermaster along with the men in his group. In a way, the novel reminded me of those of Kenneth Roberts, but it was much more readable. This author's research was meticulous.

Highly recommended.
44 reviews
September 19, 2019
I would only recommend this book to someone already interested in the history of this era - the historical information gets heavy at times, slowing the momentum of the storytelling. Nevertheless, meticulously researched with an interesting premise.
95 reviews1 follower
December 7, 2020
From our current perspective as the world’s reigning superpower, a position we’ve held since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, it is sometimes difficult for us to fully appreciate the challenges we faced gaining our independence from Great Britain, the reigning superpower of the late 18th century. We now consider the Declaration of Independence to be our founding document, but at the time it was issued it was little more than a proposition. A proposal to a distant and powerful king to recognize the independence of his rebellious colony. He rejected our proposal and reasserted his authority by occupying our major cities and nearly crushing our small, underfunded army, and he came very close to turning the Declaration of Independence into a meaningless historical curiosity.

In his well-researched book, James Glickman helps the reader fully appreciate the fragile nature of our early republic. The book focuses on the role that Rhode Island, both the place and its people, played in the Revolutionary War from a period beginning with the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 through the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778. We now view this era with patriotic pride through red-white-and-blue-tinted glasses, but, as Glickman effectively reminds us, these were desperate times for the American people. Soldiers endured privations almost unimaginable to modern-day armies with very few successes on the battlefield to lift their spirits, and things weren’t much better for civilians. They endured invasions and looting by British troops, an economy that had ceased to function, and the fear of persecution by neighbors and invading armies for ideological disloyalty.

The book is written as a somewhat fractured narrative from the perspective of two primary characters: Samuel Ward, a Rhode Islander who served as an officer in the Continental Army, and Guy Watson, a resourceful slave who is owned by a Rhode Island loyalist named John Hazzard.

In a one-page piece of front matter, the author declares, “Most of the characters and all of the major events in this book are based on the known historical record.” For those accustomed to novelists using these opportunities to disown any connection to real people, places or events; Glickman’s declaration of allegiance to historical accuracy is refreshing. And, in fact, he is even more committed to historical accuracy than I had assumed. Throughout the book, I had assumed that Guy Watson was a fictional character, but, as the author explains in the afterward, Guy Watson was a real person who was buried in Kingston, Rhode Island in 1837.

For most of the book, the story alternates between Sam Ward’s life on the battlefield and Guy Watson’s life as a slave on a Rhode Island farm. Ward was a bystander at the Battle of Bunker Hill, but an active participant in the ill-fated Battle of Quebec, which was led by Colonel Benedict Arnold. The Battle of Quebec, including the arduous march from New England to Quebec City, consumes most of the first half of the book. Since Guy Watson was also on the march, this is one of several places where the two narratives merge.

The climax of the book centers on the Battle of Rhode Island, and it is here that the author does his best work of recreating the sights, sounds and horrors of the battlefield. Ward and Watson both serve in the same unit in the author’s version of the battle, and they both emerge as heroes of the story. Another Revolutionary War hero who also receives star billing in the story is Rhode Island-native Nathanael Greene. He is portrayed as a calm, level-headed leader who seemed to be above the duplicitous behavior that plagued the Continental Army throughout the war.

The author is to be commended for his restraint and even-handed treatment of the people, events and circumstances of the book. Glickman steps aside and lets the story tell itself. He relates the story of slave life without allowing the book to become a polemic against slavery, which allows the reader to draw his own conclusion about the bitter hypocrisy of waging a war in the name of freedom and independence while dealing in human chattel. The heroes and villains of the story assume their proper roles without any prompting from the author, and the tension and drama of the battlefield reveals itself without embellishment or embroidery by Mr. Glickman.

To truly appreciate the founding era, you will need a time machine, but until such a device becomes available, James Glickman’s book is a good substitute.
Profile Image for Jenny.
453 reviews5 followers
January 30, 2018
I loved this book and hope to discover more like it...I loved learning the details of daily life during the American Revolution of ordinary people including slaves .
1 review
April 24, 2020
This is a book for our times.

Although this amazing story takes place during the American Revolutionary War the turmoil of what took place really hits home reading it today while our world is caught up in a time of chaos and uncertainty that turns lives, that were once taken for granted, upside down while people struggle to do what they believe is best for their family, friends, and countryman.
157 reviews
April 6, 2021
Engrossing functional account of the first days of the American Revolution through the eyes of a slave, a patriot and a loyalist. Brings to life the sacrifices men made to bring this nation to life. I have read many non fictional accounts of the founding of this nation but this book brought the perspective of the sacrifices needed to make it a reality. I highly recommend this read.
74 reviews
August 9, 2018
I'd say I learned what I hoped to from this book (RI history -- slavery, colonial families, involvement in American Revolution, etc). I like that different sections focused on different people so that the reader hears about this time in RI's history from different perspectives.
But it was weighed down with far too much military detail and maneuvering for my preference. Elements did give a more complete picture of this time in history, but generally it was just too much. I ended up doing some skimming and nearly gave up on the book.
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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