My image of the American revolution is something like brewers and tinkers with puffy shirts playing soldier on golf course terrain, making noble declarations to bonneted maidens then getting hung by red coats – Blimey, but it was a good speech, eh? The hard part must have been trying to remember how to load the musket – just, way too many steps. James Glickman’s historical novel Crossing Point puts the lie to all that. Dysentery and other fun illnesses, decapitation-by-cannonball, and the sheer disorder made this war a bloody mess. It wasn’t like all American colonists rose up in unison to throw off their oppressors; it was some Americans opposing Britain, and even those had a variety of ideas on what exactly they should do, and how much and for how long. Facing possibly the greatest military force on the planet at the time, it’s a miracle the often woefully inept and unlucky colonials achieved their aims. Thankfully, there were a few capable leaders and a lot of very gritty patriots who held the thing together, despite the best efforts of the self-interested and the fearful.
And oh yeah – there were slaves. We were then – and would be for a very long time after, of course – a slave-holding nation. This story, which is based on real events and people, does not shy away from that fact. This is one aspect of our nation’s birth that we (including me) conveniently ignore. Crossing Point puts it front and center, with one of its main characters a slave who is pulled into the war.
There’s a ton of detail and humanity in this story that follows the aforementioned slave and his master-by-loan, an American officer, through several campaigns and their disparate experiences of the “home front”. You feel the misery of their icy trek to Quebec and every shredding lash on the back of a young slave mother, after her failed escape. Your stomach is in knots at the petty cruelty of a wealthy loyalist, and you exult when terrified colonials turn back a column of vicious Hessians.
This book is a solid corrective to all the current, fake patriotism. It’s very authentic, but also fast-moving. You’ll love it because though it’s inspiring, it doesn’t turn a blind eye to our dark side, but so will your indoctrinated uncle who thinks not standing for the anthem is high treason.