Oh, say, can you see any great Revolutionary War novels?

In honor of Independence Day, I thought I’d pull a list of vintage bestsellers about the War for Independence. I was surprised at how few novels were written about the American Revolution and even more surprised by how unmemorable those few are. In nearly every case, the historical information is more interesting than the invented plot and characters.

Here’s a short list of some long novels about the American War for Independence with links to reviews on this site.

Oliver Wiswell by  Kenneth Roberts (1940) is a story of the Revolution told from the perspective of an English loyalist, and the best of the five novels.

The Tree of Liberty by Elizabeth Page (1939)  is a slow-moving story of the political in-fighting among the colonists attempting to free themselves from the rule of the Crown.

Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds (1937)  is a tale of pioneers in upstate New York who spent most of the Revolution fighting off Indian raids and waiting for Congress to pay them the money it owed them.

Stars on the Sea by F. Van Wyck Mason (1940) is a fictional account of how America got her Navy.

Alice of Old Vincennes  by Maurice Thompson (1901) is the story of a pro-colonist pioneer lass at Fort Vincennes, which changed hands several times during the Revolution.

Photo credit: “Stars” uploaded by Patwise http://www.sxc.hu/photo/581534

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Advise and Consent: Politics, Patriotism, and Platitudes

When the President nominates Robert Leffingwell to be Secretary of State, the Senate has to decide whether the man who would rather “go to Moscow on his knees than be killed by a bomb” is fit for the job in the Sputnik era.

Allen Drury swaddles Advise and Consent in the flag and plays  “Dixie”  in the background as he  shows how the confirmation process affects four senators and the vice president.

Sen. Bob Munson, the majority leader, has reservations but backs the candidate because that’s his job.

Sen. Seabright Cooley has personal and patriotic objections to Leffingwell.

Sen. Brigham Anderson is withholding judgment until after his  subcommittee hearings on the nomination.

Sen. Orrin Knox wants to give Leffinwell a fair hearing, but his own presidential ambitions may hinder that.

VP Harley Hudson is a terrified by the prospect that he could be thrust into the presidency in a heartbeat.

A story with a cast of over 100 characters presents major problems to any storyteller. Drury doesn’t help himself by splitting the novel into five sections — especially since he has just one omniscient narrator.

Drury’s predictable plot and hackeneyed characters make this story forgettable. It’s only remaining interest is its glimpse into the tensions of  Cold War America.

Advise and Consent
By Allen Drury
Doubleday, 1959
616  pages
1959  bestseller # 4
My Grade: B
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni