Heroes of the American Revolution appeals to readers of all ages. Given its brevity, this collective biography is admirably accurate and comprehensive. Without condescension, Davis ably refines sophisticated subjects, rendering them comprehensible to young adults. Because he is knowledgeable, his themes are handled with precision and economy. For example, by first quoting George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights and then juxtaposing the same sentiments as written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, Davis clarifies the superiority of Jefferson’s document. Readers are shown the awkwardness of Mason’s prose, which belabors the Lockean contract system of government, while Jefferson’s talents are dramatized by his almost lyrical introduction to the Declaration, serving as Davis’ reminder about the value of literary expression. Because of such techniques, Davis’ book is also appropriate for adults.
Throughout, Davis’ aim is to present his heroes not as “supermen or saints or marble statues,” but as “men of weaknesses as well as strength, men of doubts as well as courage.” In this goal, he has succeeded splendidly. Skillful in his analyses of individual characters, Davis’ subjects emerge as multidimensional figures. Sensibly relying upon the acute observations of his heroes’ contemporaries, such as John and Abigail Adams, his characters come alive. Of John Paul Jones, for example, the astute Abigail...
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