Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Great Novels of the American Revolution

In general, I prefer reading nonfiction to fiction, but there are times I like to kick back with a good novel, especially great novels on American history! And since the American Revolution is my favorite period of history, here are some novels I have thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend the following novels without reservation...

1. Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara

Jeff Shaara's father, Michael Shaara, is the Pulitzer winning author of the classic The Killer Angels, a Civil War novel set around the Battle of Gettysburg. Like his father, Jeff Shaara takes actual historical events as well as the writings (letters, diaries, etc.) of the key figures -- and builds a novel around them.

Jeff Shaara has written several such novels, including two on the American Revolution. Rise to Rebellion is the first in the two-part series, and the main heroes of the book are John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Highly enjoyable.

2. The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara

Shaara completes his two-part saga of the American Revolution with The Glorious Cause. In the first part, the main protagonists were Adams and Franklin. In this second part, Shaara shifts the spotlight to none other than George Washington. An excellent book! Highly recommended.

3. To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington and the Fight for American Freedom by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen

Even if you're a diehard liberal, you have to give Newt Gingrich credit for being an interesting figure, a credible historian, and an effective writer. Gingrich takes his love of history and his giftedness as a writer and teams up with bestselling novelist William Forstchen to write this novel set during the tumultuous and critical events of December 1776.

This is actually not the first Gingrich-Forstchen project. They wrote three awesome alternative history novels set around the Battle of Gettysburg. (The Civil War is outside the purview of this particular blog, but if you like "what-if" questions of history, you've GOT to read their Civil War novels! Start with Gettysburg, where the authors postulate a successful and daring end-run around the Army of the Potomac by General James Longstreet, resulting in General Meade's decisive defeat. What IF the South had won at Gettysburg? You've GOT to read it, if you haven't!). Gingrich and Forstchen have also written alternative history novels set around World War II.

To Try Men's Souls is NOT alternative history. In terms of the events portrayed, it's as accurate as they come. And it's a captivating novelization of a true story.

So if you like great novels on American history, then consider the above three. They are definitely well worth your time. You can follow the links to get them at Amazon or (better yet) check them out of your local library.

Happy Reading!

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