In this second novel in the Cutler Family Chronicles, Bill Hammond paints for us a well-rounded, colorful portrait of life in early America. He also profiles for us a loving and close-knit family that lives on both sides of the Atlantic and in Barbados, a family that becomes caught up in world events that affect not only the family's business fortunes, but also the very lives of several of its members.
What struck me most in For Love of Country was how historical figures became three-dimensional in the blink of the eye. One example is the meeting between Richard Cutler with Thomas Jefferson, America's consul in Paris in 1789. Within three paragraphs I felt as though I knew Jefferaon personally. I was there to see his reactions, facial expressions, his humor, his intellect, his political views. Just as in an actuall meeting, I drew a mental picture that allowed me to judge the person I was meeting for myself.
For Love of Country profiles the growing pains of a post-revolution America that struggles to find its roots and its place on the world stage. We learn of the Barbary pirates and the complex role they played during this time in history. Later we see France in turmoil as the leaders of the budding United States make bold and far-reaching decisions that will define what kind of country the United States is going to be. We come away with the understanding of what was and continues to be the driving force of our economy, the concept of free trade, and we understand what our enemies and out"fair weather friends" did in collusion to try to block our commercial growth. Importantly, we also learn what it took to finally convince our newly-formed government to authorize the construction of a navy to protect our sailors and merchant fleets.
Bill Hammond is a superb researcher and student of history. His knowledge of American history is broad and deep enough to bring to a radio show called the “Relic Roundup” a cogent discussion of the artifacts of that time period, and to suggest what a collector today might look for as relics of our nautical history.
For Love of Country is an engrossing novel and an important book. I highly recommend it.
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