Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell
New York : Viking Press, 1988. First American Edition. Hardcover. 405 pages. $18.95 dust jacket. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
Best-selling British novelist Bernard Corn well's first book set in America, Redcoat is the story of a city at war, and of men and women caught in the uncertainties of battle and the crossfires of loyalty, ambition, and love during the American Revolution.
Sam Gilpin broke his English mother's heart when he joined the British army. In the ranks, moving through the New Jersey countryside toward Philadelphia, he has learned about killing, found the bloody thrill of a soldier's life, and wears his Redcoat uniform proudly. Jonathon Becket is an orphaned Philadelphian dominated by his Loyalist uncle, until his widowed sister, Martha Crowl, and Caroline Fisher, the girl he loves, inspire him to the cause of liberty.
The tension and conflict of rebellion come into sharp focus when Jonathon, after joining the rebel cavalry, is grievously wounded and returned to Philadelphia as the British, under the command of William Howe, occupy the city in the winter of 1777. Meanwhile, Sam has come to witness war's atrocities, and is saved from the wrath of a murderous sergeant by Christopher Vane, an ambitious British officer who chafes under th.e diplomatic niceties of Howe's occupation. Sam, having learned about killing, will learn about love in Philadelphia. And as his and Jonathon's fates become linked by shared enemies and shared passions, he will learn about yearning for freedom as well.
Bernard Cornwell brings to this compelling novel his unrivaled skill at describing soldiers and battles, but Redcoat is far more than a story of men at war. Precise in its evocation of history, it is a novel about the dangerous edge of ambition, the price of loyalty, and the impulses that turned a failing rebellion into the birth of a nation.
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