From Publishers Weekly
This historical novel dramatizes the American Revolution from the dual viewpoints of George Washington and Caesar, Washington's "dogs boy" slave who escapes Mount Vernon to become a soldier in the Loyal Ethiopians, a unit of runaway slaves who fought alongside the British in exchange for manumission. Cameron hits on the oft-ignored and embarrassing fact that America's fight for freedom from the British never prevented even the most fervent patriot from owning slaves. The exploration of this tragic irony, however, undermines Cameron's effort. Not satisfied with establishing the point and moving into the dense military and political machinations of the ordeal itself, Cameron belabors the issue on almost every page. To the author's credit, his portrayal of George Washington, particularly in the early chapters, is compelling. He humanizes the general and presents him as a modest but self-confident gentlemen farmer who acknowledges his limitations as readily as he embraces his duty. Caesar's initial characterization as a victim of the greatest moral injustice in American history is also believable, but Cameron cultivates in him a near savant precociousness that strains credibility. The novel is meticulously accurate in its historical detail (if sometimes repetitive), but the story meanders in an undisciplined way before finally grinding to a tedious and predictable ending. FYI: Cameron is the son half of the father-son team that writes the Alan Craik thriller series under the pseudonym Gordon Kent.
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Cameron provides a compelling fictional account of a regiment of slaves, promised their freedom by the British, who fought in the Loyalist corps during the Revolutionary War. Acquired by George Washington in 1773, Caesar is sent away from Mount Vernon for having the temerity to laugh at a comedy of errors involving his normally staid and dignified master. Forever changed after being discarded so casually, he educates himself and, once war is declared, jumps at the chance to fight alongside the British. Rising through the ranks, Caesar becomes a leader in the Corps of Black Guides, eventually earning both his freedom and the respect of his former owner. Though Caesar is a splendidly drawn character, Cameron's complex portrait of Washington as a brilliant but flawed leader, capable of insight and change, is the real standout in this authentically detailed American drama. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved