From Library Journal
Randall, a historical biographer (Thomas Jefferson: A Life, LJ 8/93), and Nahra, a poet, contend that most American historians have neglected to tell the story of individuals whom the authors say played crucial historical roles. They identify 15 of these "footnote" figures from early Colonial times to the end of the 19th century, focusing on a number of fascinating individuals whose stories are not widely known, some undoubtedly for ethnic, racial, or gender reasons but others because their significance is questionable. The authors' contention that these were all figures "who changed American history" is not well supported; in some cases Randall and Nahra appear to have constructed straw people, claiming that their subjects have been overlooked. Furthermore, educated people are likely aware of Anne Hutchinson, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Tecumseh, and Sitting Bull, each of whom receives a chapter. Ironically, Randall and Nahra fail to share very much about how they did their own research. It also seems odd that the authors chose no subjects from the 20th century. Not recommended.ACharles K. Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Renowned biographer Randall (Thomas Jefferson, 1993, etc.) and wife Nahra, an award-winning poet, here offer fascinating sketches of Americans who have unjustly been relegated to the footnotes of history. While not all of the authors' subjects are truly obscure--most students of the Revolutionary period are aware of Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko or the Tory William Franklin, Benjamin's son, who was the last royal governor of New Jersey, and of Peggy Shippen, who induced Benedict Arnold's treason, while Tecumseh and Sitting Bull are well known even to casual students of American history. But most have faded from popular consciousness despite having been influential or even notorious in their own time. After vividly sketching the bloody tale of Tom Quick, who fought a personal feud with the Lenape Indians for 40 years, the authors tell the stories of Native Americans who resisted the conquest of the continent by whites, like the Lenape Teedyuscung, and those who conformed to white culture, like old-time Cleveland baseball star Louis Sockalexis, an Abenaki Indian after whom the Cleveland Indians were named. Besides Native Americans, the authors depict persons who, often courageously, resisted the exclusions of white male society: Anne Hutchinson, the independent mystic who dared defy the male authority of the Puritan church; James Forten, black Philadelphia inventor and philanthropist and his granddaughter Charlotte, an abolitionist who taught ex-slaves at a special school in South Carolina; and Myra Bradwell, feminist lawyer and suffragist. Charmingly, the authors also include an account of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison taking a summer vacation in New England in 1791; rather than showing us ``forgotten Americans,'' here the authors emphasize the forgotten dimensions of the best- remembered Americans. Well narrated, these thumbnail portraits vividly show the forgotten side of important struggles and issues in American history. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.