"The Times That Try Men's Souls" by T J Alexander
A couple of centuries ago I studied history at school with some degree of enthusiasm, when I wasn’t staring out at the sports field, though being brought up and educated in England it was all Romans and Norman Conquest and Plantagenets and Agincourt and Tudors and Cromwell, and later on Disraeli and Gladstone and Bismarck and Queen Vic and the build up to World War I.
The American War of Independence barely registered in my time back before the blackboards and maybe that isn’t entirely surprising, so I guess that I am not alone in being somewhat ignorant of the events of the fourth quarter of the 18th century.
In T J Alexander’s “The Times That Try Men’s Souls” – (a cracking title that was borrowed from a quote by Thomas Paine, the English born political activist born in Thetford,) the reader is treated to a fictional account of the cataclysmic events covering the period 1776 to 1790.
Tis fair to say that if those years could ever be re-run a lot of things might have been done differently, but you can’t trade backwards, so they say, but it doesn’t stop us occasionally wondering how things might have turned out if a few different forks in the track had been taken.
There’s a lot of dialogue in the book, which I like, and most of it is very believable too, though it is always a dangerous thing putting words and thoughts into the minds and mouths of famous people, especially iconic ones like George Washington, but lots of writers do it, and the world would be a duller place if they didn’t.
Overall I enjoyed the story, it’s a worthy effort that’s clearly been thoroughly researched, so I’m glad I took the time to read it and I learned a great deal too. Why not take a look when you are next pondering on something to read?
If you'd like to learn more about that time and the American War of Independence here's a video that will take you back more than two hundred years. Hope you like it.