Wednesday, 27 August 2008

My Review of America's Hidden History

Book Review of America's Hidden History: Untold tales of the first pilgrims, fighting women, and forgotten founders who shaped a nation, by Kenneth C. Davis.

You know a book on American History is going to be interesting when the Introduction starts with a reference to Flip Wilson. And I was not disappointed reading America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis.

America’s Hidden History is a book of six stylish, sometimes wry, vignettes that detail the more obscure tales of American history. The tales spin out in a well-written, forthright style, as a master storyteller discloses secrets of the past. It is just the kind of book on history I love, highlighting not facts and figures, but people and their real stories. There are little known stories of Conquistadors, Pilgrims, Puritans, Founding Fathers, and Revolutionaries, opening an illuminating window on the early saga of what became the United States of America.

I found the first two stories, that deal with the first explorers and settlers, an appealing, entertaining read, and mildly enlightening. Mr. Davis drops the veil on this history, to give the reader a true glimpse at the lives that wove that fabric.

He writes:

“In this inconceivable moment of terror, shock, and grief, the two women were spared. Taken captive along with at least ten other prisoners from Haverhill, they began a wilderness trek.”

It was in the remainder of the book, where the author starts telling tales of the American Revolution and its participants, that the book elevates from great to riveting. Conventional history gets turned on its ear, to reveal some very intriguing facts. I certainly learned a few things I thought I already knew.

Mr Davis pens:

“While Arnold prepared for this wilderness march to Quebec, his rival Ethan Allen was already assaulting Montreal. With only a handful of men, Allen had foolishly attacked the city late in September 1775. The attack was a fiasco, and the hero of Ticonderoga was captured by the British. His Revolutionary military career was over.”

America’s Hidden History dips past the standard book on history, removing the rose-coloured glasses we often use to view the past. Yet, within its pages are far more fascinating stories that should be read. Oh, and if you ever set out to colonize a new world make sure you bring the pigs.

Kenneth C. Davis is the bestselling author of Don’t Know Much About History, part of the popular Don’t Know Much About series.

America’s Hidden History is available online at Amazon and other retailers.


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