Thursday, January 29, 2009

Women of the Revolution by Robert M. Dunkerly

I have realized that when it comes to non-fiction, what really floats my boat is history. I am also fascinated with Southern history (this is where the Mississippi girl in me shows her face), so it's no surprise that the subject matter of this book, Women of the Revolution: Bravery and Sacrifice on the Southern Battlefield, attracted me.

Unfortunately, I can't give a glowing review of the book. While, yes, the subject matter was interesting, the book was not well-written. To me, it read like a stack of notes that were thrown into book format. What bothered me the most about the book was that there were sections (sometimes even separated as entire chapters) where basically all it said was "I'm sure there were women involved in this part of the war, and this is the type of things they probably did, but we don't have any personal accounts to share." Interspersed with these sections, were some accounts of actual women and varying accounts of their stories, and I thought those were very interesting. I started the book assuming that it would be full of these actual accounts, and I was disappointed to find otherwise.

The author indicates that there is very little recorded about actual women involved in the Revolutionary War, which, of course, explains the lack of accounts in the book. But I wonder, if so little is available, why is it necessary to publish an entire book full of speculation? I noticed that there are other books on the topic; it seems that a chapter on the involvement of Southern women in a larger book might have worked better.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was the inclusion of photographs of reenactors portraying 17th century women. I would have preferred to see paintings or drawings. The photographs seemed (and were) staged; the women seemed too clean and tidy. Also, some of the photographs were repetitive - how many pictures of women sewing in camp do we really need to see? The one place in the book where I found the photographs to be a welcome addition was in the section devoted to clothing. I enjoyed seeing actual photographs of bedcoats, short gowns, etc. 

All in all, this book was disappointing. It, however, was very short, and I did learn a few things, so I don't feel that it was an overall waste of my time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to have this review, as the book was promoted by the author on Revlist in response to a recent question about the participation of women. Thanks for being honest.

A revlist reader