"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Monday, December 31, 2012

Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec

A rare out of print book
but available on e-bay, etc.

March to Quebec
By Kenneth Roberts   (1938)
The Journals of the members of Benedict Arnold's Expedition

By Gary;

Book Review  -  Back in my olden college days I was on a huge Kenneth Roberts kick.  I bought and read everything he wrote.  God help me, I even purchased his cookbook.

It was a sad and yet happy addiction.  Roberts helped both introduce me to early America, but also flesh out the dry and boring history books that had been forced on me.

Now I have dragged out two of Kenneth Roberts' books.  Re-reading them has been a great pleasure.

March To Quebec is a work of collected historical documents compiled by novelist Kenneth Roberts as part of his research for his first novel Arundel.

The book is largely compiled from the actual journals of Colonel Benedict Arnold and several of his companions during the American Revolution.

To read Arnold's journal of his brutal march though the Maine wilderness in 1775 is a treat for any true student of early American history.   Those on the march were to make a surprise attack upon Quebec with the hope of adding it as a fourteenth colony in the Revolution against England.

Benedict Arnold led our
troops in a freezing New
Year's Eve attack.
A familiar cast of famous patriots were on the march to Canada. Men like Nathaniel Green, Daniel Morgan, Henry Dearborn and Aaron Burr were all in on this unsuccessful campaign.

These out of print compiled journals by Roberts are available on e-bay and can be expensive.  But they are well worth the money.  You feel like you are in the boat beside Arnold as he fights his way through the frozen Hell of Maine and Canada in winter.

Kenneth Roberts was a man with a craving to learn new things, to prove and disprove whatever life presented him. And that, perhaps, contributed to his enormous prowess as a historian and writer of some of America’s finest historical novels.

Young people, from the 1930s to the present time, have cut their “history teeth” on the thought provoking, intense and suspenseful novels written by Kenneth Roberts, of Kennebunkport, Maine.

Roberts’ contribution to educating the youth (and older people as well) of America lies in his unerring historical accuracy and an innate ability to make interesting and immensely entertaining reading of what otherwise might remain dry, historical side notes.

By Kenneth Roberts   (1930)

Roberts’s first novel, Arundel, was published in January of 1930.

Arundel is a beautifully written book on the American Revolution.

It took Roberts 52 months to write his 618-page epic about the heroic colonials who followed Benedict Arnold up the Kennebec River in leaky bateaux, trekked across the Height of Land and lost their way in a morass of endless wetlands in their hopeful quest to storm Quebec and take it from the occupying British.

Roberts suggested early on that his book wasn’t a great seller and in fact, bemoaned the $1,420.95 check for royalties. His expenses, after all, were staggering.

The research involved not only poring through moldy volumes and handwritten notes by the actual participants, but also a physical trip to the route taken by Arnold’s men.

Roberts even located, by pacing and measuring, the exact spot in Quebec where Arnold was shot. Such attention to historical accuracy comes at a price, but it was a price that Kenneth Roberts was willing to pay.

Any person with even a passing interest in the role of New Englanders in the history of the American Revolution and our early history needs to read Kenneth Roberts’s novels—all of them. Doing so will, in the opinion of countless Kenneth Roberts fans, give the reader an invaluable education.

For more reading see  Benedict Arnold's expedition to Quebec  and also Battle of Quebec (1775)

British and Canadian forces attacking
Benedict Arnold's column in the Sault-au-Matelot

Kenneth Roberts at his Kennebunkport house Rocky Pastures in 1939. The house, which he had built, was designed with references to early colonial stone architecture. The 17th century stone buildings at Fort Pentagoet, built by the French in Castine were similar. The house burned in 1975.
Roberts was an enormously popular novelist..., an ultra-conservative Republican who inveighed in print against the New Deal and against America's liberal immigration policy.  It is said that he so hated Franklin Roosevelt that he glued Roosevelt dimes to the clamshells he used as ashtrays, the better to grind ashes into FDR’s face! 
(Maine Historical Society Photo)

No comments: