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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day: Books About the American Revolution.

On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the 2nd Continental Congress.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (quick note-- after Benjamin Alire Saenz's Printz acceptance speech, these words have a whole new meaning.)

Before the hot dogs and apple pie and fireworks, here are some books about the Revolution to check out!

    

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by MT Anderson. Having seen the truth about where he grew up, Octavian longs for freedom. He escapes British-occupied Massachusetts for Virginia. While there, he joins the King's army-- for the King has promised freedom to slaves who fight for the crown. But he must also learn another harsh and startling truth-- freedom and equality are very different things. The second volume in a series, you best start with The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin. This is a rip-roaring yarn of fierce battles, crazy stunts, and incredible bravery that then goes completely wrong when Arnold does the unthinkable. Although we’re still unsure as to WHY he did it, we get a much more complete picture of the man than we usually do.

Five 4ths of July by Pat Raccio Hughes. In 1777, it's been a year since Independence was declared and Jake and his friends celebrate. Jake longs for the adventure, romance, and escape of war, but actual independence is long in coming, and war is hard, something his learns the hard way over the next four years.

    

Soldier's Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Sheila Solomon Klass. Klass imagines the life of Deborah Sampson-- a woman who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Revolution.

Washington at Valley Forge by Russell Freedman. We hear about Valley Forge in history class all the time, but Freedman explains how it was more than weather that made is so awful, how close to death the army really was, and how the leadership of Washington not only kept them alive, but finally molded the ragtag army into a fighting force that had a chance of winning. It skews a bit young, but is still one worth checking out.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. Set during the Revolutionary war, two young girls are betrayed when the freedom they were promised doesn't happen. Sold to a Loyalist couple instead, Isabel spies on them for the Revolution. The first in the Seeds of America series, follow it with Forge.

    

The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood. In this alternate history, the American Rebellion is quickly crushed and in 1777, our Founding Fathers are in hiding or awaiting execution. Creighton has been taken from England and ends up a spy on those in hiding in French-controlled Louisiana. But as he grows closer to those he's spying on, he starts to question his own allegiances.

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen. Who knew that George Washington was an American James Bond? Filled with coded messages and actual codes and trade craft used during the revolution, this our first President as you've never seen him before. Older readers may want to opt for Alexander Rose's Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring.

Finishing Becca: A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold by Ann Rinaldi. Becca is Peggy Shipton's maid, and the fact that she overhears everything allows her to narrate the tale of Shipton and Arnold's romance and how Shipton turned Arnold to the side of the British. Sheinkin does a better job with the true story and how much we don't know, but this is a fun possible look at Peggy's side of things.

What books are you reading today?

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