Review: Burning the Gaspee

Dear Constant Reader,

Today’s book has nothing to do with burlesque, but it was written by someone with whom I’ve shared the stage many a time.

Burning the Gaspee: Revolution in Rhode Island by Rory Raven (2012).

Rory Raven is a mentalist. He will read your thoughts, bend your silverware, and generally blow your mind. He’s also a historian, specializing in the state of Rhode Island. His latest book is on an incident during the pre-Revolutionary tensions between Great Britain and the American colonists. You may know of the Boston Tea Party and the “shot heard round the world”, but outside of Rhode Island, the burning of the Gaspee is probably not familiar.

In 1772, under cover of darkness, a group of Rhode Island colonists rowed up to the British schooner Gaspee, angry with the captain’s harassment of colonial ships, which, admittedly, were smuggling goods. The Gaspee had run aground, unsuccessfully chasing a ship suspected of smuggling, and was helpless until the tide came in. The captain was shot, the crew bound and removed from the ship, and the ship itself burned to the waterline.

The book reveals the events leading up to the incident and the aftermath and the colorful characters involved on both sides of the conflict. It’s a short book, completely focused on this one act of colonial rebellion that opened the door to out & out revolution. Personally, I’m quite interested in maritime history, so I enjoyed reading about the smuggling and vice-admiralty courts. There was even an appearance by the Rose — I spent some time on the replica Rose, so I’m quite fond of her in either iteration. (here’s proof — I’m the one in the white hat — but I digress).

If you are interested in local history or the American Revolution, do check it out.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of the book for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign to defray the cost of licensing images.

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Published in: on 23 May 2012 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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