When this book was first published in 1940, one critic claimed that "adjectives pale before the superb drive and force of Oliver Wiswell
." In the novel Kenneth Roberts portrays a very different side to the story of the American Revolution, that of the loyalists (colonists who supported the British monarchy).
Spanning the years from 1775 to 1783, Oliver Wiswell traces the adventures of a Yale student who is deeply loyal to the established government of the colonies. This wonderfully far-ranging novel is packed with battles, sudden flights, escapes, intrigue, massacres, romance and exile as it follows
Wiswell, a spy for Sir William Howe (Commander in Chief of the British Armies) on Long Island, as well as in Paris and London. He captures a sloop single-handedly and joins Benedict Arnold against the American revolutionaries of the southern colonies.
Oliver Wiswell did no less than challenge the accepted perceptions of the loyalists. Though branded by history as cowardly traitors, many of them were men of strong convictions and fierce courage, sometimes defeating triple their number of Continental troops and militiamen in battle. With strong historical detail and vivid depictions, Roberts explores the hearts and minds of those men and women who opposed the Revolution.