Rabble in Armsby Kenneth Roberts
The second of Roberts's epic novels of the American Revolution, Rabble in Arms was hailed by one critic as the greatest historical novel written about America upon its publication in 1933. Love, treachery, ambition, and idealism motivate an unforgettable cast of characters in a magnificent novel renowned not only for the beauty and horror of its story but also for
The second of Roberts's epic novels of the American Revolution, Rabble in Arms was hailed by one critic as the greatest historical novel written about America upon its publication in 1933. Love, treachery, ambition, and idealism motivate an unforgettable cast of characters in a magnificent novel renowned not only for the beauty and horror of its story but also for its historical accuracy.
- Down East Books
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- 5.38(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.18(d)
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In 1966 a nun teaching my English class read off some titles of books for a required novel-reading unit. Because the title suggested something more exciting than the others, I took Rabble in Arms. A glance at the thickness of the book frightened me, for I had never tackled anything so big. But the book and the assignment did more to transform my life and career than anything since, even though it took years. For because of this book (and the other incredible Roberts efforts such as Arundel, Northwest Passage and the others), I became a history teacher. I have always checked up on the historical facts of Roberts' novels and am constantly amazed at how even small incidents (which I assumed he made up)really happened . . . yet Roberts could weave them into a believable and even humorous way. Roberts also takes great and misunderstood figures of history (Arnold and Rogers as examples) and permits the reader to look at things differently without questioning the value of patriotism or courage. Finally, the romantic element, which pollutes so many historical novels today, are actually a delight in Roberts' books, for they are as wholesome a tapestry as could be presented to any eight year old. Yet, they tantalize and agonize the reader, taking the story to a satisfying and realistic finish.
Roberts features the Northern campaigns of the American Revolution. Rabble In Arms picks up where Arundel ends and takes the reader through the disasterous retreat from Quebec the sufferings of the sick and wounded which make Valley Forge, for all the suffering and hardship that happened there look tame by comparison. These are the battles and campaigns that led up to the eventual surrender of General Burgoynes army at Saratoga. Benedict Arnold is the real hero in both Arundel and this book but one can find some of the problems that would cause Arnold to turn on the revolutionary cause a few years later. In rabble in Arms Arnold is a Dynamo of energy whether its building a fleet to oppose the British on Lake Champlain or leading the charge that routs the British Army at Saratoga, a great book
Kenneth Roberts was the master historical novelist. With its dynamic characters (especially Benedict Arnold) and its unforgettable action scenes (especially the Battle of Valcour Island), Rabble in Arms greatly influenced my own historical novel, Horse Dreamer. Rabble in Arms is, in my opinion, the best of its kind.