Top positive review
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Interesting guy and interesting Revolutionary War history
on September 6, 2012
As a New Yorker and Revolutionary War buff who has traveled many of the same metro area paths as Sullivan (and once or twice with him), this book is thumbs up. As are his past books (Rats, Meadowlands, etc), My American Revolution is deeply researched history presented as memoir. Or perhaps the reverse. Through his long walks, and boat rides, over the ground and waterways that George Washington and his men strode in 1776 and after, one is reminded of, or introduced to as the case may be, the layered Revolutionary War history of New York City, and of how, here, that past is mostly forgotten, torn down and paved over. He makes the case for the New York area (roughly what you can see on a clear day from the top of the Empire State Building) as the crux of the American Revolution, where its numerous early battles (and escapes) set the course for victory. Bah Boston, humbug Philadelphia, goodbye Southern Campaign.
Sullivan has a keen eye for characters, eccentrics and otherwise, who he help him on his journeys and move his story along - at Washington's Crossing in Delaware, in the Bronx at a battlefield, in the Watchung Mountains in New Jersey, in Brooklyn and elsewhere. And while it's true that in many ways this book is an elegy for what we have lost, Sullivan does remind us of what is still here - the physical landscape, and other landmarks, plaques and roadside signs that mark historic Tri-state locations. (I wish he'd included maps and I'd beg him to post annotated point by point walking tours).
My American Revolution is a great, engrossing read, an important addition to the growing canon of books that focus on the lesser known Revolutionary history of New York City, which includes Barnet Schecter's wonderful Battle For New York, David McCullough's 1776 (my personal entre into the subject), Bruce Bliven's classic Battle for Manhattan and others. Beyond the specific history that Sullivan writes about, and his personal journey, in the end My American Revolution is a broad, joyous meditation on how we live with and interact with history in our daily lives.