“The Fort: A Novel of the Revolutionary War” by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, 2010)

Fort
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Readers used to Bernard Cornwell’s medieval historical fiction series may be surprised with his latest book, covering the summer of 1779 near Majabigwaduce in the colony of Massachusetts, a small but important moment in the revolutionary war.  But Cornwell does what he does best, taking this small and seemingly insignificant moment and expanding it into a book-length story of drama and emotion and action.

With the major battles occurring further to the south, a British force with almost a thousand Scottish infantry and three sloops-of-war sail into the eastern province  of Massachusetts – what would one day be the state of Maine – and establish a garrison and naval base at Penobscot Bay.  They are the only British troops between New York and Canada.  Massachusetts answers immediately with a thousand infantrymen and over forty ships.  Second in command is Peleg Wadsworth, once an aide to General Washington, along with a patriot known as Paul Revere will face down an eighteen-year-old Scottish lieutenant named John Moore.

What should be an easy battle for the men of Massachusetts turns into a big, bumbling embarrassment.  Cornwell turns a history story into a gripping novel of people of the past come to life in this important time in the founding of a nation.  As a British citizen who has lived for many years in New England, readers can’t help wondering what side Cornwell associates with.

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Originally written on January 1, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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