Tuesday, July 01, 2008

America's Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis

Recently I read America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation by Kenneth C. Davis. He wrote Don't Know Much About History, followed by a bunch more books in the "Don't Know Much" series. This particular book was six chapters, and I found it to be a fairly quick read. The chapters have interesting names that entice you to go deeper to find out "what the deal is" about each: Isabella's Pigs, Hannah's Escape, Washington's Confession, Warren's Toga, Arnold's Boot, and Lafayette's Sword.

These catchy titles (I just noticed there's a pattern of sorts to them) uncover true chapters from our nation's early history -- things that we never learn in the history books or in school. I personally love American history, especially Colonial and Revolution-era stuff. So this book was perfect for me. It has a slight ring of conspiracy theory, so if you enjoyed National Treasure (which had a lot of fictional stuff), you will enjoy this read (which is all fact).

My husband also read this book (he finished it before I did), and then went and started re-reading Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara. Back a few years, I had bought The Glorious Cause by the same author and then picked up Rise to Rebellion as it came first. You may know Jeff Shaara for his Civil War piece Gods and Generals, which actually took over as the second in a trilogy started by his father Michael Shaara. Gods and Generals was made into a movie (which I have not seen, nor have I read any of the trilogy) that won critical acclaim and was popular with the masses.

Shaara's works are fictionalized versions of historical events, and I feel they bring these distant days to life through the eyes of those involved . . . at least how the author thinks they may have thought, spoken, and acted at the time. Whenever possible, he bases his story on what actually happened, but he fills in the dramatic in-between with dialogue as he imagines it would have been. What I like best is that he shifts the perspective with each chapter to that of a different character -- on both sides of the war. In his Revolutionary War books, we get to "be" George Washington, John Adams, Benedict Arnold, Lafayette, Cornwallis, and others. I recommend these two of Shaara's books as an entertaining telling of the real events of our country's beginnings.

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