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War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier
War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier
by John F. Ross
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A epic treatment of an epic life., 15 Nov 2010
Contrary to the sentiments expressed by the other reviewer (who not only didn't finish the book, but who also didn't seem to know what he was reading), this is a first rate history of a little known conflict. The French Indian War is today largely forgotten. Yet it was a war on which the entire future of the world literally depended. If the French win this war, North America is a completely different place today; America is a completely different place today. At the time the war began, the French controlled all of what is today Canada and most of the interior of the United States. The English controlled a narrow strip along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The war could not have gone more badly for the English at the outset. When war was declared, the French unleashed a veritable TORRENT of savagery upon the settlers of what is today Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and upper state New York.

A bounty was placed on the scalps of all English settlers -- and the Indians responded with alacrity. They came from literally all over Canada...apparently even Sioux showed up -- drawn by the blood bounty. Men, women and children were butchered, scalped, tortured, taken prisoner. At first the English were completely unprepared. They had few troops to put into the field, and those that they did were torn to pieces by the incredibly skilled guerrilla-style fighting of the French and their Indian allies. There is, by the way, a terrific movie based on this war, "Last of the Mohicans" starring Daniel Day Lewis - very faithful to the truth (unlike the bizarre fictional account of Roger's life, "The Northwest Passage"). English regulars had no clue how to fight such an enemy. Enter Robert Rogers and his irregular "provincial" troops. Rogers and his men did not get off to a particularly good start either; but at least they understood what they were up against and though they made many mistakes...they learned from them. They took the war to the French and Indians in a way the English regular troops could not. And it wasn't pretty. They fought like the Indians; which meant they used tomahawks and scalping knives. And they were just as merciless. Rogers career culminated in what has come to be considered one of the greatest and most difficult guerilla raids in recorded history - the raid on the Abenaki town of St. Francis. Ranging hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, his men not only arrived and executed their mission, but he managed to extricate them; pursued by every Indian within a two hundred miles. It was an extraordinary, epic undertaking. Rogers became famous - in his day more famous that Franklin and George Washington. He was cocky and a risk taker; he had an eye for publicity. He deliberately taunted his enemy; often leaving mocking notes which he requested be delivered to Montcalm (and they were!!). The Indians for their part were consumed by a desire to kill him (or rather torture him to death); he was revered and despised. More than one Ranger was mistaken by the Mohawks for Rogers - and their fate was horrific. They called him "Wobomagonda"; the White Devil -- though his tactics were hardly any more savage than theirs.

The English commanders very quickly came to rely upon these irregular troops for scouting missions and lightning guerilla raids into enemy territory. Indeed, Rogers is today almost worshiped by the US Army Rangers - as their founder. His "Rules of Ranging" are still in use today in an albeit modified form. You should look them up on line. Here's an example:

"14. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall, or squat down, till it is over; then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal to theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground."

We may think this is common sense. But for the raw recruit, or the English regular stumbling off the boat in Connecticut, following rules like these could save your life.

This book will make all of this come alive for you. You will learn much about the appalling winters these men lived and fought through. You will learn about how their families carved their existence out of an almost completely foreign and hostile environment. You will learn how their children were expected to be contributing members of the family (hunting, fishing and trapping) by the time they were 7 or 8. I think you can not fail but come to respect them. A few short years after the French and Indian War, America was convulsed again by the Revolutionary War. Many of Roger's Rangers were caught up in that conflict as well. Many of them sided with the English - and when they lost, they became refugees. Many trekked hundreds of miles up the St Lawrence River where they eventually settled and started all over again -- this time, in effect, founding Canada. My own forefathers were part of that trek. These men and women were made of steel. They never gave up and they never surrendered to fate or circumstances.

Those of us who live today in North America owe them much.

The Last Of The Mohicans [1992] [DVD]
A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers
White Devil: An epic story of revenge from the savage war that inspired The Last of the Mohicans: The Epic Story of Revenge and Savage Warfare That ... the Mohicans" (Cassell Military Paperbacks)


The Roman Revolution (Oxford Paperbacks)
The Roman Revolution (Oxford Paperbacks)
by Ronald Syme
Edition: Paperback

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Syme's Controversial Masterwork, 8 Dec 2003
This is without doubt Syme's masterwork. The praise has been lavish. A.J.P. Taylor said it was a "work of brilliant scholarship which can be enjoyed by the expert and the layman alike". Sir Maurice Bowra said "his work is extraordinarily persuasive and interesting, it is the best book on Roman History that has appeared for many years." The Classical Review wrote that is the "one of the most important books on Roman history since Mommsen.
Need more reasons to read it? Well, I'll try. I'll start by saying that this is one of the top 25 books I have read - though I by no means agree with everything Syme believes.
What Ronald Syme has done is to lay bare the workings of the late Republic and early Empire. To do this required an effort of scholarship and synthesis on a gargantuan scale. And yet Syme manages to render the story in a lucid, straightforward, compelling manner. His arguments are often ineluctable. You find yourself drawn along, at times unwillingly, to conclusions you thought far-fetched.
The period under scrutiny is 60 BC to AD 14. Thus he covers the last generation of the Republic and the first two or three of the Empire. In a nutshell his hypothesis is that the Republic simply was not equipped to manage what had become an empire. He believes that Rome was inevitably drawn to the rule of one.
He writes of Caesar: "The rule of the nobiles, he [Caesar] could see, was an anachronism in a world-empire; and so was the power of the Roam plebs when all Italy enjoyed the franchise. Caesar in truth was more conservative and Roman that many have fancied; no Roman conceived of government save through an oligarchy."
Augustus, however, was a different matter. And it was Augustus, believes Syme, who wrought the revolution that forever changed the Roman way of life. To suggest, as has some have done, that there was no true revolution, almost defies sense and logic. And Syme ably makes the case.
But aspects of the Syme's theory remain controversial. He writes: "The nobiles by their ambition and their feuds, had not merely destroyed their spurious republic: they had ruined the Roman People. There is something more important than political liberty; and political rights are a means, not an end in themselves. That end is security of life and property: it could not be guaranteed by the constitution of Republican Rome. Worn and broken by civil war and disorder, The Roman people was ready to surrender the ruinous privilege of freedom and submit to strict government as the beginning of time....So order came to Rome." "Acriora ex eo vincula", as Tacitus observes.
Wow. This is breath taking and highly controversial. He might as well have been writing about pre-Nazi Germany (and note that Syme wrote "The Roman Revolution" in 1939). And, frankly, I must tell you I do not agree with his condemnation of the nobiles. Nor do others.
The most important voice in opposition remains that of Erich Gruen's. "The Last Generation of the Roman Republic" MUST be read alongside "The Roman Revolution." Gruen believes that the monarchy was in fact neither anticipated nor inevitable. And he strongly believes that the Republic was functioning quite well, thank you very much, and could in fact have coped with empire.


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