A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
In July, I wrote about an online magazine, Journal of the American Revolution , dedicated to the war which brought American independence. When I heard that there would be a version in traditional hard back format, I was eager to compare them. At the beginning of the book, The Letter From the Editors calls the contents their “greatest hits”, but I found it more of a cornucopia. The book is proof of the wide variety of subjects within their remit. It’s more categorized than the website, with articles gathered by topics in loosely chronological order.
The pieces range from scholarly ones with footnotes, to the very amusing Q & A’s with Michael Schellhammer posing as “Dear Mr. History”. There is plenty about military men and specific battles, but also spies, myths, thematic lists, mysteries speculated upon(“Who Killed Maj. John Pitcairn?”) and even recipes. One of my favorites was on a popular artist of the time, John Trumbull. Though there were four essays concerning women, Native Americans were represented only by medical treatises on scalping and arrow wounds. Hopefully in the future they will be shown in a more positive light, perhaps a bio of Joseph Brant or another leader? Modern life is not overlooked, with views of tourist spots and the best films set in the Revolutionary Era.
For me, though, the best part was the glorious art work which saturates the pages of the book. The portraits of the individuals, the landscapes, the complex scenes of battles, all on oversized pages and rich in color. From the 1819 cover painting of George Washington on his horse by Thomas Sully, through the color photographs of statues and buildings, the atmosphere of the time is strongly conveyed by the excellent layout. The larger format allowed the maps, architectural plans and vintage documents to be seen with greater clarity. If my large desktop monitor makes such a difference, I cannot imagine what is lost by those reading on a tiny phone screen.
Though I ultimately preferred the traditional book format, it contains just a sampling of the variety of the website, which has an array of essays added each month. However, the hardback version would be a treat for any history buff, either as an introduction to the site or a treasure of some of the best and most popular pieces. In any case, I can imagine it as the first volume of a shelf full of the Journal of the American Revolution.
Ertel Publishing, Inc. 2013 246 pp. ISBN 978-0-9660751-8-2 Available in ebook and traditional formats