Independence Day is here once again and with its are plenty of movies on Turner Classic Movies about America’s fight for freedom from Britain. There are also plenty of cookouts, music, and fireworks to stir nationalistic pride among Americans. For all that Americans know about America’s fight for independence from the crown in the years spanning 1777-1781, there are still stories that have sadly rarely if ever been shared of the American Revolution including those of the men (and even women) who took part in the privateering against Britain’s navy during the war. Now thanks to author Eric Jay Dolin, those stories finally came to light in May in his new book, Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution. Running approximately 247 pages (counting the acknowledgements and not counting the bibliography), the book is a must read for every history buff, including those who are more specifically interested in military and nautical history. That is due in large part to the stories and information that Dolin shares throughout the book. This will be examined shortly. The transitions make the book even more engaging and will be addressed a little later. The illustrations incorporated into the stories also play into the book’s engagement and entertainment and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the book’s success. All things considered they make the book a welcome read for a wide range of audiences.
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution, the latest historical presentation from author Eric Jay Dolin, is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of history fans. The book’s appeal comes in large part through the stories that Dolin shares with his audiences. The stories in the book’s first half alone are more than enough to keep readers engaged and entertained. Audiences learn from early on that a blockade that Britain had in place on the United States’ northern colonies played directly into the start of the revolution. This is something that is rarely if ever taught in public schools or even colleges and universities. Why this so rarely if ever taught is anyone’s guess. Another key revolution that Dolin makes in his new book is that of the role of American privateers and their crews in the slave trade. He reveals that many privateers that were meant to disrupt British supply lines would take Africans from British ships, but then sell them themselves at port. That is an atrocity for which the south has been admonished for such a long time, yet here it is revealed that the northern states and privateersman who were hired to work the privateers by private businessmen and those in power were doing the same thing that the southern states did in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Again, this is something that is rarely if ever taught in public schools and institutions of higher learning. In still other stories, audiences learn about the role that France played into the American privateer movement during the revolution, making for even more interest. Again, this is all just in the book’s first half. The second half offers just as many eye-opening and enlightening stories of the role of privateers and their crews.
Staying on the matter of the stories, the manner in which Dolin presents them is fully accessible. What that means is that his writing style is in the simplest possible layman’s terms without simply writing down to audiences. He makes each story easy to follow and in turn understand. That means that whether a reader is the intellectual type or more of a casual reader, any reader will find himself or herself remaining engaged because he writes each story in simple fashion. It makes every story so accessible and in turn ensures readers’ engagement and entertainment even more.
As the stories that Dolin shares progress, his writing style and the stories themselves are just part of what makes them remain engaging. The transitions that he uses are just as important to the book’s presentation as those elements. As noted, this is a historical document. That means it is a non-fiction. Within the chapters, the stories are all relevant to one another within the bigger picture of each section. Case in point is the collection of triumphs and tragedies presented in the book’s sixth chapter. Dolin tells the stories here of two separate privateers, each named after infamous revolutionary figure Benedict Arnold. The two ships met distinctly different fates. He also tells the story here of how one American caught as part of the fate of one of those ships ultimately escaped British hands and went on to become George Washington’s “personal” dentist. It is a story of highs and lows for the man that fits perfectly into the bigger chapter, but still stands well apart from the stories of the two ships.
In another case, Dolin introduces readers to life onboard a privateer, revealing that in many cases, things were not always the greatest. The privateersmen, the men (and even sometimes women) who served on the ships often had to deal with the risks of food and drinking water going bad. They also had to deal with contracts outlining certain codes the crews had to follow and much more. Those codes were often crafted by the private business owners (some of whom were prominent politicians) who owned the ships. The way in which Dolin connects it all is impressive in its own right, again, ensuring readers’ sustained engagement and in turn enjoyment. It further shows the impact of the book’s transitions alongside the stories and writing style therein. Considering all of that together, it all gives audiences lots of reason to keep reading the book and is still only part of what makes the book worth reading. The illustrations that accompany the stories round out the most important of its elements and put the finishing touch to the presentation.
The illustrations that accompany the stories are important because they help audiences to better visualize everything about which Dolin writes. Faces are put with names through various illustrations. Pictures of models of some of the ships of which he writes are also incorporated into the book. This helps readers better visualize the size of those ships, and in turn creates more appreciation for the ships and the crews that worked onboard them. What’s more, the illustrations also take up space on multiple pages throughout the book. This means that it actually lessens the amount of space for written content. It sounds simple but having less overall to read means more encouragement for casual readers to pick up the book. Together with the expansive bibliography included in the book’s back, it all makes the book actually a relatively short read, and when considered with the examined writing style and stories, a relatively simple read, too. Overall, those illustrations work with the content and its presentation style to make the book overall a successful offering that any history buff will find fully engaging and entertaining.
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution, the latest historical offering from author Eric Jay Dolin, is a presentation that any history buff will enjoy. That is due in no small part to its stories. The stories are for the most part, takes that are rarely if ever taught of the revolution, including the very fact that a blockade that the British had on American’s northern colonies played just as much into the revolution happening as the taxation and other more commonly taught factors. The manner in which the stories are told makes the accessible to the most casual reader, too. That accessibility is certain to keep so many readers engaged and entertained. The transitions used throughout the book do their own share to keep audiences engaged. Within the course of each chapter, the stories all tie together but still manage somehow to stand as their own at the same time. In other words, the transitions are seamless. That makes for even more readability. The illustrations that Dolin incorporates into the stories enriches the stories even more engaging. That is because they put faces to some of the figures and make more real just how big and small some of the privateers that took part in the revolution were in comparison to the British ships that they faced. They also take up space in the book, reducing the book’s overall length along with the expansive bibliography in the book’s back end. It puts the finishing touch to the presentation that when considered along with the stories and way in which they are delivered, makes the book that much more engaging. All things considered they make Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution a successful entry that any history buff will appreciate.
Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution is available now through Liveright Publishing. More information on the book is available along with all of Dolin’s latest news at:
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