“Paul Revere is famous for his ride. He’s essential for so much more.” Joel Miller’s book, The Revolutionary Paul Revere, amazed me and annoyed me.
First, this book was a great idea. It’s as much about the American Revolution as it is Paul Revere, but it gives the story and sequence of the events of the American Revolution as seen from Revere’s eyes, and I have never read a non-fiction work on this era like this. It is astounding to see how vast the breadth of Revere’s touch was. Revere is mostly famous for his “Redcoats are coming” ride and perhaps for silversmithing, but every bit of his life was more interesting and hands-on than you could have known. Revere was a brazen and brave leader amongst the Patriots. He was ingenious and productive. He was deep and broad in his skill and passion. He was hands-on in building some of the amazing and lasting works of that era (including the USS Constitution, which would not have survived so long if not for Paul’s quality work keeping it held together).
My grievances are small, but I was disconcerted that Mr. Miller repeatedly used a rather flippant, modern jargon to apply to the matters at hand. Word choices that pulled us out of the time period to our modern one. I noted it 17 times and may have given grace to others. Thankfully, they were top-heavy at the front of the book so I was less put-out as I went along. In telling of a general being killed in action, Miller said he “bought it.” In describing how Revere and his first wife met, he employed the informal “became an item.” When the stores were not allowed to sell, they were, “on ice.” The technique doesn’t make it unreadable, it just lops off some of the import that Revere and his important work conveyed.
I really liked the idea of one-word chapter titles, but the introductions to each chapter, “In which our hero…” were a little weird: by which I mean, it’s something I would do if I were an author and something I’m sure I would take flak for doing.
Revere is a hero worth knowing more about. This is a good place to start.