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Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom

Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution
Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
Length: 7 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom, Christopher S. Wren overturns the myth of Ethan Allen as a legendary hero of the American Revolution and a patriotic son of Vermont and offers a different portrait of Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. They were ruffians who joined the rush for cheap land on the northern frontier of the colonies in the years before the American Revolution. Allen did not serve in the Continental Army but he raced Benedict Arnold for the famous seizure of Britain's Fort Ticonderoga. Allen and Arnold loathed each other. General George Washington, leery of Allen, refused to give him troops. In a botched attempt to capture Montreal against specific orders of the commanding American general, Allen was captured in 1775 and shipped to England to be hanged. Freed in 1778, he spent the rest of his time negotiating with the British but failing to bring Vermont back under British rule.

Based on original archival research, this is a groundbreaking account of an important and little-known front of the Revolutionary War, of George Washington (and his good sense), and of a major American myth. Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom is an important contribution to the history of the American Revolution.

©2018 Christopher S. Wren (P)2018 Tantor

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  • DWD
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • 03-28-19

Ethan Allen's story is pretty complicated

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

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.

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.

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Evan's Review

I really didn't know a lot about Ethan Allen and Green Mountain boys. I assume alot until I listened this books twice. I came away with mixed feelings about them. The Allen's where looking out for themselves and moved from sided to side depending on the tide.