Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Summer Beach Reading - Recommendations for Revolutionary War Fans

Getting ready to go on our every-other-year beach vacation with my wife's family. This is a family reunion of sorts, where all four of Jane's sisters, plus their husbands and kids come to the Outer Banks for a mini-family reunion. Since I'm not a huge fan of going to the beach itself, it's a great week to do some reading.

So, what will I be reading? Well, right now, I've got the following packed and ready to go...

Rora by James Byron Huggins

This book was published almost 10 years ago. It's historical fiction, inspired by and closely following actual historical events. While it's not about the American Revolution, nor is it set in American history, the themes of Rora resonate very well with liberty-loving people everywhere.

Rora follows the story of Joshua Gianavel, the military leader of the Waldensians, European Protestants who valiantly resisted the medieval Catholic Inquisition by force. It's an exciting page-turner, full of incredible action. This will be the SECOND time I read it, and I read very few novels twice.

If you can't find it at your library or a used bookstore, you can get it at Amazon very cheaply.

George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser

George Washington on Leadership came out a couple years ago. I'm a fan of all of Richard Brookhiser's books, and this one looks quite promising. The only frustrating thing about it is that I had the idea to write a leadership book featuring George Washington as a model. But I never acted on it. :-( Brookhiser did. And it looks like a good one. I'll be reading it this coming beach trip.

Other Recommended Books

In addition to the above, I'll be taking a long a couple books that aren't related to our topic, including a book on public speaking and another on writing fantasy novels. (Yes, I hope to do that someday).

However, a few other books I can recommend to you, if you haven't yet taken your summer vacation are....

*Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara
*George Washington's War by Robert Leckie
*To Try Men's Souls by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Happy Reading!

And I'll be blogging some more when I get back!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Recommended American Revolution Movies

Looking for American Revolution movies? Unfortunately, Hollywood has not done enough in covering this critical period of our nation's history. There just aren't that many films based in the American Revolution. But...thankfully...there are a few.

Here are my recommendations for American Revolution movies:

1.John Adams (HBO miniseries), starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney

One of the best film productions ever set in early American history, John Adams won numerous well-deserved awards! The miniseries stars Paul Giamatti, who portrays a believable John Adams. Laura Linney steals the show, turning in a breathtakingly awesome performance as Abigail Adams, one of the most remarkable women in American history. And I loved Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin!

Based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning John Adams and produced by Tom Hanks, John Adams is a must-see American Revolution movie (or, technically speaking, miniseries).

2. The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger

Okay, the plot doesn't exactly follow history closely and it's much too hard on the British. The antagonist, based on Banastre Tarleton (who was indeed ruthless and, at times, barbaric), is too evil. **Spoiler alert: Burning down a church with civilians inside is simply not something any British officer of the American Revolution would've done!

That said, it's nice to watch a big-budget Hollywood production, starring the same guy who portrayed William Wallace in Braveheart! (Though Braveheart is a better movie). If you just want to kick back, eat some popcorn, and enjoy a good movie set in the American Revolution, you should check out The Patriot.

3. George Washington, starring Barry Bostwick and Jaclyn Smith

This 1980s TV miniseries is a little dated. (You can tell it's a 1980s production, when you watch it). But it's worth your time, if you can get a hold of a copy. It unfortunately rarely comes on TV anymore. And you'll probably need to get in VHS. Like I said, it's 1980s.

Other American Revolution Movies...

I have mixed feelings about The Crossing, which stars Jeff Daniels, and Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor, which features Aidan Quinn. It would take me too long to get into a review of them right now, so I'll save that for another post.

I absolutely do NOT recommend Revolution, starring Al Pacino. Of course, if you're a fan of the dark, cynical version of American history, parroted by the late Howard Zinn, then you'll probably like Revolution. Otherwise, skip it.

For kids (of all ages), I do recommend Liberty's Kids! :-) An excellent animated miniseries that covers the American War for Independence.

Okay, what about you? What are some of YOUR recommendations for American Revolution movies?

Over a Quarter of Americans Don't Know Country From Which US Declared Independence

In a recent Marist poll, 26% of respondents did not know that the United States declared independence from Great Britain. Yes, you read that right.

Thankfully, 76% of respondents DID know. I suppose this is some consolation. But for over 25% respondents not to know is troubling to say the least. Hopefully, the poll is not representative of reality. For if it is, it is yet another example of how shamefully ignorant many Americans are today.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Today, July 4, is the official birthday of the United States of America (even though John Adams thought it would be July 2). I would like to wish all my readers a very safe and enjoyable Independence Day holiday.

Every Independence Day, I like to not only spend time with my family (which is important), but also read the Declaration of Independence. That is, after all, what the holiday is all about. So, if you'd like to read the Declaration of Independence, follow the below link to do so...

Text of the Declaration of Independence, courtesy of Archiving Early America


Friday, July 02, 2010

What Happened on July 2, 1776?

In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams predicted that "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America." Adams had good reason to make such a prediction, since July 2, 1776 was an extremely significant day.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee's motion for independence. Lee's motion had been put forward on June 7, 1776, after months of debate and over a year of armed conflict with the Mother Country. Lee's motion read:

"Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Thanks to some aggressive negotiations and politicking, John Adams and his supporters were able to get twelve of the thirteen colonies to vote in favor of Lee's motion. New York abstained.

This victory is what prompted Adams to write his wife, Abigail, the following:

"Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony 'that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.'

"You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell'd Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days. On July 2, 1776 the Association known as United Colonies of America officially became the United States of America."

That "Declaration setting forth the Causes" would end up overshadowing the hardfought legislative victory of July 2. On July 4, Congress followed up its vote for independence with an approval of the Declaration of Independence. And it is that vote, which Americans have chosen to remember as their national birthday.