I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Both James Kirks have done an extraordinary job of teasing out and elucidating, from diary entries of 20 aI cannot recommend this book highly enough. Both James Kirks have done an extraordinary job of teasing out and elucidating, from diary entries of 20 and 30 words, the daring, dangerous, exciting, romantic life of young captain Thomas Rose Lake, during one year, 1878, when the oysters still throve in Atlantic County New Jersey, and local boats still sailed with goods to distant markets.
The book reflects not only the story of Captain Lake, but thanks to father-and-son editors, shows the world he inhabited, with farmlands and creeks where now are tracts and culverts, a bittersweet story and a provocative one.
The editors sound almost apologetic about the length of their annotations, and seem to wish they had been shorter. But readers will find much to admire about this method of presenting local history, this unfurling of an ancient world and its vanished ways with the explication of everyday commentary. Researching these footnotes took more than 10 years, and created a sharper picture of the region than even this reviewer, a native of that overworked land, never dared to imagine.
For students of local history this book is indispensable. For those wanting a case of history written well, this book deserves your attention. ...more
Robert Rogers is not much talked about these days, and so far as I know was never taught in schools. His name is inseparable from that curious time inRobert Rogers is not much talked about these days, and so far as I know was never taught in schools. His name is inseparable from that curious time in American history, the mid-1700s, when we, a British colony, made war on France and native populations for possession of the continent.
Despite what the school books imply, it was never a given that Britain would control North America. Until the American Revolution, hegemony on these shores was very much in doubt.
Rogers made it much less so. Rogers was good at fighting. Despite the scorn of the British regulars who disdainfully became his colleagues, he pioneered a mode of warfare perfectly suited to the wilderness of northern New York and Canada. He strengthened Great Britain's grasp here. And he did it mostly by himself. His tactics are still studied. His outfit, The Rangers, is commemorated in name by the elite of the Army.
So what better treat could there be than this extremely readable novel, this historical fiction in the best sense, which puts a human face on a great but otherwise shadowy historical figure? The story is fantastic in all its ups and downs, the characters can almost walk off the page. And the picture of the American wilderness of those years is something everyone should see.
The opening half of the book--a harrowing tale of wilderness survival against all odds--has gone into the records as one of the greatest in American literature, all the more telling because true. The figure of Rogers comes through as one of the great American leaders of the country's early history--except, unfortunately for history students, Rogers wasn't technically American, though born in Massachusetts, and in fact took Britain's side in the revolution.
No matter. It's time to dust off this classic from 1937 and give it the full appreciation that another classic from that year--Gone With the Wind--may have stolen from it. ...more