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Saturday, May 26, 2007

TBR Challenge for May

The challenge for May is to read a book with a name in its title.

To participate, leave a comment here or on your blog.

I chose:


**** George Washington's War by Robert Leckie. Non-fiction.









I've had this for a very long time, but never read it. Several years ago, I bought a random handful of history books, because it's a subject I don't know much about, but I'd started to become curious. Oddly, though, instead of putting them in my TBR pile, I put them in the bookcase with all the reference books, and there they sat. So about a year ago, I started putting unread nonfiction in the TBR pile. This was the first book in the pile with a name in the title.

This is the second book I've read this month that took over a week to read. May's total is going to be shockingly low.

Despite the length of time it took me to read, I thoroughly enjoyed this history of the American Revolution. I'm not sure how it would stand up for someone with a strong background in American history, but for me, the blend of a fresh look at things I already knew and a lot of things I didn't know at all was the Baby Bear's porridge of history books.

Interestingly, one thing that irritated me so much about my last long read worked very well in a nonfiction setting: every major character that's introduced gets his life story told. The narrative is interrupted for a brief but fairly thorough biography, then resumes. If it were fiction, or if I'd been reading for the story, it would have driven me up a wall. But when it comes to understanding history, and why things happened the way they did, it helped immensely to have a portrait of the major actors.

Where the book really shines, I think (again, coming from a terribly limited background in history), is in showing the motivations and backgrounds for both sides. For example, in high school American History, I'd learned that the Americans won because the British were too short-sighted (stupid was implied, but not said) to learn to fight guerilla-style. In a nutshell, this isn't idealized as my education had been. (Unsurprisingly--my American history teacher was really the high school football coach, who was the history teacher because in my small school, coaches all had to be teachers as well. Guess which was his priority?)

Even to my untutored eye, some of the book, particularly toward the end, gets a bit opinionated, but I'm cynical anyway, so I read it as fact colored by opinion, which is more interesting than dry facts, anyway.


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Comments:
My Engish teacher was also the gym teacher...but luckily he had a huge interest in teaching about books and talking about books.

Great review. I was struck by your self observation that the narrative style in this book...stopping action to relay biographical info didn't bother you...but would have ina novel. Interesting. I guess with novels we really want to know the plot?

Great review!
 
I think that's exactly it. In a history of the American Revolution, I pretty much know the plot, so it doesn't bother me if it's interrupted.
 
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