Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kenneth Roberts Lydia Bailey

I read this book with trepidation due to some of the comments of previous reviewers about this book being politically incorrect. Having read the book with an open mind the reviewers who stated this were way off base.

The book was written in the 1950's and dealt with two subjects not commonly dealt with in that era in historical fiction the Haitian Revolution and the Barbary War. The author is clearly cognizant of historical paradox of the French Revolution and the subsequent actions of France. The author clearly is sympathetic with the Haitians and portrays one historical figure though competent in Battle lousy as a human. The portrayal of Desalines as a war criminal is largely correct. Any discussion of why Haiti is messed up today largely rests with France, but also includes the misrule of Desalines.

The thrust of the book is how a career boob Tobias Lear acted like a clown and had a nasty impact on events. In real life people like Tobias Lear at the State Department are still messing things up today. In essence the book shows how timeless the bufoonery of the State Department is.

As far as the book the black Sudanese Muslim plays the role of the lead characters
best friend. In Roberts works this spot is usually the most interesting and the hero is less interesting or in some cases a bore. King Dick is almost super heroic and saves the life of his friend the lawyer from Maine on multiple occasions. He is portrayed as strong and mentally sharp. The criticism of his language being broken is unwarranted as readers should not expect an uneducated former slave to talk like William F Buckley or Gore Vidal.

The book is well worth reading even if the ending is not all live happily ever after. I read this book out of sequence as my next book The Lively Lady also has the character King Dick years later in Dartmoor Prison and the Son of the lead character of Arundel in the War of 1812.

Thus far out of Roberts nine works of historical fiction I have read six. After I am finnished with the last three I will write a post about his work and themes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One other thing to ruminate upon is Roberts' dead-on assessment of the Muslim faith.
It killed the flourishing scientific and literary progress of the peoples of the mid-east.
Still doing so today.
Bism Allah.