"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Published by Tantor Audio in May of 2018
Read by Peter Berkrot
Duration: 7 hours, 4 minutes

I pounced on this history because Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys have always been a mysterious presence in my readings on the Revolutionary War. They show up during the early days of the war and add a zest of mystery and frontiersman derring-do that blunts British momentum. And then...they just disappear from the typical history.

Ethan Allen (1738-1789)
The book follows the timeline history of the American Revolution, going back and forth between a series of the Green Mountain Boys. My fleeting impression of them was that they were some sort of super-patriotic mountain men. The reality, on the surface, seems more nuanced. But, in reality, I think that I was right. They were super-patriotic mountain men, but their loyalties did not lie with the United States - their devotion was to Vermont and only Vermont. 

Vermont was not a colony when the Revolutionary War started. At best, it was the beginnings of a colony, but it was claimed by New Hampshire and New York - especially New York. Before the Revolution, the Green Mountain Boys were already fighting a low-level insurgency against the colonial government of New York in an attempt to make themselves a separate colony.

When the Revolution began, many Vermonters looked at the confusion of the was an opportunity to break away from New York, especially if Vermont could prove itself useful to the 13 colonies as an ally. But, repeated attempts to officially become the 14th state were rebuffed and some of the Green Mountain Boys began to court the British in an attempt to play both sides against each other. The goal was always the same - an "independent" Vermont. There were three options: 1) become the 14th state, 2) become a colony attached to Canada but with its own government, 3) become an independent country (not seriously considered by many, but it was always a thought on the back burner).

Ethan Allen tried all of these options at one point. Some of the Green Mountain Boys dedicated themselves to just one course, and if their course failed, they were forced to move away or suffer other consequences.

There was not as much detail to the book as I would have liked. Sometimes, it seemed like the author was skimming the surface, bouncing back and forth as the narrative moved forward. 

I "read" Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom as an audiobook. The reader, Peter Berkrot, has a beautiful voice for audiobooks, but his presentation was too dramatic. He made every sentence sound like it was the most dramatic moment of the book - even mundane sentences like lists of supplies that were captured in forts and crops sold by Vermont to Canada. There were certainly plenty of dramatic moments in this book, but the overall effect is weakened when so much of the book is presented as a dramatic moment. It made the book tiresome rather than enjoyable.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom.

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