Form and Content
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, Esther Forbes re-creates the world of Boston, Massachusetts, both as it rushed toward the revolutionary war and as it flexed its industrial and mercantile muscles after the war. By focusing on Revere, Forbes is able to evoke the feelings, day-to-day activities, and aspirations of all of Boston, as Revere’s life touched several strata of Bostonian society. The biography thus follows the conventions of beginning with Revere’s ancestry, the arrival of his grandfather in Boston, and his own birth, and then concluding with his accomplishments as a bell maker and coppersmith and his death. His famous ride to Lexington marks the exact center of the book.
Along the way, however, Forbes focuses on more than Revere. She uses his life as a focal point of a narrative about Boston—the revolutionary fervor that inspired it through 1776 and the industrial growth that it experienced into the first quarter of the next century. The vivid cast of characters whose exploits Forbes recounts are made human and immediate by the intimacy of Forbes’s details. She describes the slave Crispus Attucks, whose verbal abuse of British soldiers led to his death; Sam Adams, whose fervor for revolution did not pale with his palsy; George Washington, whose military strategies led to the evacuation of Boston; and Thomas Hutchinson, the exiled governor of Massachusetts whose desire to be buried in his...
(The entire section is 437 words.)