In Allen, young adults have an ideal hero—a man of action, independence, and integrity—and most of the information that Holbrook selected for this biography is intended to show these traits. As the book begins, Holbrook suggests that “Ethan Allen was to live a life filled with storms. He was to be a man given to violent actions and language.” He then points out that the gigantic Allen was also courageous and true. There is no doubt of Holbrook’s admiration for Allen, but he also describes some of Allen’s antics and tactics that were crude and cruel in order to make the hero believable.
Holbrook adequately covers the public highlights of Allen’s life and treats his involvement in fledgling Vermont’s politics extensively. He depicts life in the Allen household when Ethan was young but says little of Allen as a husband and father, perhaps because young readers are less interested in these roles.
The biography’s pace picks up when Allen moves to the area of New Hampshire that became Vermont. This section was bought and settled by families from Connecticut at the same time that New Yorkers were buying the land. “Always a man of quick action,” Allen would not capitulate to the “Yorkers.” He tells the settlers, “Hang the courts! fight—unless you are sheep.” Allen then gathered his “mob” of Green Mountain Boys to fight the Yorkers and later the British. Against both opponents, Allen proved fearless and...
(The entire section is 569 words.)