Les Standiford depicts the grassroots firebrands who led the American colonies to revolution

Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Bands of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War, by Les Standiford.  Harper. 336 pages. $27.99.

Breathing new life into an already lively story, Les Standiford takes as his focus the self-style “Sons of Liberty” who helped energize colonial Americans to see their future as citizens of an independent nation rather than as subjects of England. In bringing us from the catalytic acts of perceived British (actually, Parliamentary) oppression to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Mr. Standiford underscores the contributions of a handful of determined individuals whose words and deeds pressed issues to the breaking point. They were unwilling to settle for expedient, short-lived, artificial bandages of conciliation. 

The author does a splendid job of building a sense of daily life in Colonial America during the 1760s and early 1770s. Without being showy about it, this Florida International University creative writing professor immerses his readers in the texture of life: its tastes and smells, its architecture and technology, its economic and physical realities. Charleston, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Providence come alive with the urgent concerns of tradesmen, laborers, landowners, militiamen, and politicians.

What affects the growing minority of discontents is, of course British oppression in the form of parliamentary actions intended to refill England’s depleted coffers at the expense of the “thankless” colonists. The Stamp Act, essentially a tax on transactions, sets the angry, loquacious, and not particularly likeable Samuel Adams into motion as a rabble-rousing force whose speeches and scribbles assault the audacity of British lawmakers, fomenting resistance and refusal to comply.

Les Standiford by Marla Cohen

Mr. Standiford’s narrative has a pulse. He details the repeated pattern of proposed legislation, threats of resistance, completed legislation, noncompliance, threats of enforcement, and ebbs and flows of brinksmanship in a series of sturdy chapters clearly demarking stages on the road to war. . . .

To read this review in its entirely, as published in the December 5, 2012 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 6 Naples, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Bonita Springs editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Standiford’s “Desperate Sons”

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