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A jealous murder, 40 years and 1,000 miles separate Daniel and Susan — father and daughter. Susan has escaped the carnival life in an amusement park to become a professor and writer. Can her father say the words he has tried so hard to express? Can Susan’s writing substitute for the absence of her parents’ love? Dubus takes the reader deep into the core of his characters as they comer ever closer to confronting their loveless lives.
An 11 year old slave who seemingly knows nothing but sugar cane and heat, is chosen to be the manservant to the master’s brother. That boy, Wash, will challenge all you think you know about slavery, white abolitionists, and the state of science in the 1830’s and ‘40’s. When a suicide on the plantation allows the master to scapegoat him, Wash will take you on adventures an 11-year old Barbados slave was never meant to have. But, Wash takes every opportunity, every challenge, with courage and spirit and wonder. I savored this book, so much so that I held it at bay for 3 nights before I dared to read the last few chapters of Wash’s life. Wash is brilliant, artistically and intellectually. His backbone, which was born to experience little more than hard labor, knows no limits, and his kindness is boundless to those who dare to be his friend.
At a time when many Americans wonder about the state of their nation and the qualities that make a great leader, Philbrick has given us a window into our first president, before the country existed in anything more but a declaration of ideals and grievances.
As a retired high school history teacher, I have used Philbrick’s writing on the Mayflower and Bunker Hill as motivational windows into a time teens cannot fathom. “Hurricane” presents us with an army beset by desertions, limited resources, no paydays, and a Congress evicted from its capital and unable to raise funds to support its revolutionary war.
George Washington rises to the occasion. He pieces together disparate state militias and foreign armies who have their own reasons to hate Washington’s and America’s enemy. He has no navy, facing the greatest navy of the 18th century. How to defeat Great Britain? How?
“Greatness”, Washington learned, “was attained not by insisting on what was right for oneself but by doing what was right for others”.
We can learn from this examination of trial and leadership in a time of deep divides. Washington learned that he didn’t have all the answers but could surround himself with those from whom, if he listened, he could learn, and with luck, prevail.