Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rabble in Arms by Roberts

I am about 1/3 of the way through this excellent book. The book shines when Benedict Arnold shows up. Roberts lets you understand the brilliance of Arnold. Arnold does get fooled in the first book but you see a human quality. One also grasps the inside politics club of the early revolution.

Before reading these two books I really recommend reading With Musket and Tomahawk and Through a Howling Wilderness. Those books provide excellent groundings to appreciate Roberts.

Roberts was definitely way ahead of his time. Benedict Arnold as a brave visionary was really not something the nation was ready for. The real hero of the first book is the Abenaki Nattanis. In an era where Indians were portrayed uniformly as sex charged savages Arundel stands out. Nattanis is mentioned in the second book but has not made an appearance. Then again the lovable frequently drunk Cap Huff provides the role as lovable rouge stealing food, learning from his bigotry and loyal friend.

Roberts points out the parts of loyalists being forced out and sometimes the revolutionaries are opportunists. He points clearly to the arrogance of those in England who didn't grasp that maps
and reality are different. Reading a map in a parlor in the UK is quite different than a trek across the Champlain Valley. Parts of it are still a howling wilderness today and the folks in England had a very poor grasp of this. What is truly odd is that this should have been well known as the area
in question was the scene of many battles of the French and Indian War.

I am still trying to locate the last three Roberts Books. Lydia Bailey uses the first Barbari War and the Haitian Revolution as a back drop. His take should be excellent.

Beakerkin's recomended Historical Fiction list

10 Caravans
9 The Hope
8 Winds of War
7 The Haj
6 Mila 18
5 Arundel
4 Drums Along the Mohawk
3 Caribbean
2 Centennial
1 Texas

One day I have to get around to reading The Source and Poland. Michner really is the best at this type of writing. I think the only other Michner book I have not read was Space. All of his work is pretty good.


Ducky's here said...

I notice you like pop history almost exclusively. The scholarly stuff have too many big words?

beakerkin said...


The genre is Historical Literature
and it is meant to be pleasurable.
In many cases I have read the relevant history to heighten the enjoyment.

There is more wisdom and truth in Michner than Chomsky. As a person that places validity in Marx you are far more acquainted with fiction than I.

The_Editrix said...

Beak, "Poland" is excellent to get at least a whiff of understanding for those gallant and hapless people. A serious flaw would be that the author fails to give the Jews and their important role in the shaping of Poland their due. But anyway, it's well worth reading.

Ducky, why shouldn't somebody who is no scholar of history enjoy pop history? (That said, why shouldn't a scholar of history enjoy pop history?) Will you subscribe to JAMA to learn what to do about your constipation?

beakerkin said...


Michner is an amazing author who really perfected the genre of historical fiction. Kenneth Roberts
was one of the writers whose works he studied. In this case Michner raised the bar for everyone else.

I will have to move his work on Poland to a higer point in my list.

The_Editrix said...

Regarding the many very different topics he covers, it is not too amazing (and it oughtn't to be hold against him) that Michener is sometimes a bit superficial.

However, top of my list is Herman Wouk. His grasp of the German people in The Winds of War is literally unique for a non-German.

Ducky's here said...

Oh I don't know, Editrix. Maybe because Uris was hardly objective and you want a more objective account?

Not that Beak is going to try to deal with the complexity of history.

beakerkin said...

Wouk is fun and I liked Winds of War.

Mitchner spans generations and remembers the reader first. Out of curiosity is he even translated into German. That must have been a feat. I wonder if his basic style
gets conveyed.

Ducky Uris is more reality based than Marx. You are not objective on anything as an apologist for Authoritarian Statist idiot failures.
Your view of history is comedic.

The_Editrix said...

"Out of curiosity is he even translated into German."

He is indeed. The only one of his books I read in German (and later in English) is "Poland". The (silly) German title is "Mazurka". I found nothing wrong with the translation. If one can't read English, one still gets most of Michener in German.

I liked "Texas" best, I read "Space", "Chesapeake" and "Centennial". Somehow, I couldn't go on with "Mexico" because it bored me.

Duck, don't be fatuous. Who reads fiction because it's "objective"? If you read an entertaining and informative propaganda piece like "Exodus" you can always go on and get some "objective" information, say, from Norm Finkelstein, as an antidote.

Beak, OT: Did you know that the Shrek attended the royal wedding in Stockholm last weekend? He came disguised as the Queen of Denmark.