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Gone Over

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0981841885
ISBN-10: 0981841880
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Editorial Reviews

Review

...I could not put this book down. It is gripping... --PATRICK CLOONAN, Daily News Staff Writer, McKeesport, Pennsylvania

Calling this book one of the best historical novels of the year is only the beginning of the praise it deserves; in its wit, excitement, and sometimes mordant insight into human nature...Do yourself a favor this autumn: skip the latest doorstop biography of Washington and read this wonderful book instead. --Steve Donoghue, OpenLettersMonthly.com/blog/

Chacko and Kulcsar prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's always room for genuine talent at the literary banquet; Gone Over is a fantastic novel, brimming with great characterizations, shrewd commentary, effortlessly evoked historical settings, and dialogue that positively shimmers...the writing is antic and lively the whole time...Under no circumstances miss this book. It's very enthusiastically recommended. -- HistoricalNovelsSociety.org

From the Publisher

Gone Over is a daring reinterpretation of the thrice-told story of Israel Potter. Herman Melville had a turn at this Revolutionary War biography, but David Chacko and Alexander Kulcsar go far beyond anything previously attempted. Based on in-depth research into the life of Potter and the men around him, it presents a comprehensive look at the panoply of the secret War of Independence.

Everyone knows how this story ends, but few know these outsized characters as alive and conflicted as they are in Gone Over. The inevitable American victory is set against chaos in England as Potter returns to his estranged wife and a country that has lost a great part of its future. Suffice to say that history has little use for superannuated spies, and that Israel Potter is a casualty of the trade he has learned so well. And of course the stock market crashes with a calamitous noise heard round the world. That rings true, too.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Foremost Press (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981841880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981841885
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,158,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gone Over is a colorful, against-the-grain tale of an American hero-traitor's adventures across three continents during the American Revolutionary War. Drawing on historical research, authors David Chacko and Alexander Kulcsar paint a fascinating portrait [ASIN:1932870318 Monongahela Dusk: A Novel]of wartime cultures in London, Paris and the English colonies at a time when political intrigue, high-stakes gambling and Benjamin Franklin's sly diplomacy each played a role in determining the war's outcome. The story is based loosely on the real-life adventures of one Israel Potter, a young Rhode Island native who claimed to have fought the British at Bunker Hill and later sailed aboard an American privateer against British shipping. Captured at sea, Potter escaped into the English countryside and led a hand-to-mouth life for nearly 40 years before returning to America.

In the 1820s, Potter wrote or dictated his life's story in a failed effort to collect a Revolutionary War pension. He likely would have disappeared from the pages of history had not writer Herman Melville, several years later, run across the manuscript. Adding his own fictions to the tale, Melville immortalized Potter in Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855).

In Gone Over, Chacko, a prolific mystery novelist, and Kulcsar, a writer and film director, pile on additional layers of intrigue and adventure to recreate an even bolder, lustier Israel Potter. Disowned early in life by his father, a wealthy Rhode Island landowner, this new Potter has strong incentive to switch allegiance while stranded in an English prison. He becomes a British spy. Resourceful and smart, he brazens his way into the top echelons of spydom and travels on secret missions to Paris and America.
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I have always enjoyed good historical fiction, especially when set during the "days of fighting sail," wooden ships and iron men and so forth, and since David Chacko's and Alexander Kulcsar's Gone Over takes place during the American Revolution, I expected to find it entertaining. I did, but more on that shortly.
I had never heard of the main character, one Israel Potter, but he was a real person. Wikipedia provides a thumbnail sketch: "Israel Potter (1744-1826) was...born in Cranston, Rhode Island. He had been a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill, a sailor in the Revolutionary navy, a prisoner of the British, an escapee in England, a secret agent and courier in France, and a 45-year exile from his native land as a laborer, pauper, and peddler in London." Such a man is clearly a fine subject for fictional treatment, all the more so because most details of his life are largely unknown. Mssrs. Chacko and Kulcsar are not the first to take advantage of this. The best known was no less than Herman Melville, whose serialized treatment of Potter's life was ultimately published in 1844-55 as a short novel, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile. This work is of interest today mainly as an early example of Melville's developing narrative skills, and not as a creator of accurate historical fiction.
Being more a member of the tribe of general readers than a historian, I can report that Gone Over meshes with the mileposts of Potter's life reported in Wikipedia, but more gratifyingly, it fleshes out that life in most convincing detail. Perhaps the finest accomplishment is conveying a sense of the times--grand times, we think today: revolution was in the air. Great things were being done, by heroes! But few people would have thought that at the time.
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This is the culmination of quite a fine, two-book tale by accomplished writers whose prose is never trite or boring. It's a real pleasure and joy to read. As such it's well worth the price, which would otherwise be a bit high for an ebook. If the real Israel Potter wasn't exactly like Chacko's and Kulcsar's version, he should have been.
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"Gone Over" and "Brimstone Papers" are both fully-charged novels. What do I mean by that? They have characters you believe in and care about. They have a strong narrative drive (that kept me up till 2 a.m. for the finish). The variety within the tales is amazing. You have excitement and adventure, love and sex, bravery and horrific, cynical self-seeking, mysteries of identity, etc. And you become totally invested in the main character, Israel Potter. Historically, the details of the battles and their diplomatic underpinnings have obviously been deeply researched. But they don't FEEl researched. They feel as if they've been witnessed.

"Gone Over" is lengthy, detailed, and rich. What is commonly called an uncommon good read. You could read that one first. I did. And then read "Brimstone Papers" as the prequel. I'm pretty linear myself, though, and wish I'd read the shorter, tauter "Brimstone Papers" first. But that's just my taste. You can't lose, either way you do it.
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