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Recommended Reads: A Boy’s Adventure Story, American History and N.C. Politics

By Vince Bellis

Three in a series highlighting the books our contributing and guest writers most enjoyed reading in 2014.

Front cover of With Lee in Virginia. A Story of the American Civil War, by G. A. Hently - A. L. Burt, Publisher.

Front cover of With Lee in Virginia. A Story of the American Civil War, by G. A. Hently – A. L. Burt, Publisher.

I read a fiction book every two or three years. My background is science and engineering. I am not a literary person. One book I read in the past year was With Lee In Virginia, a boy’s adventure book by G.A. Henty, 1898. Henty was an English author of adventure stories for boys.

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The hero of this book is named Vincent. My grandmother (from western New York State) named my father after him. Henty had been a newspaper reporter and covered several British war zones before he started writing boys adventures. His books are well written, show good use of the language, and explain the strategies of contestants in war with little emphasis on battle tactics. I am told that his racist and British-superiority views make him popular among homeschoolers where his books are still used. Among his other books is Loyal To The Old Flag about a boy who stays loyal to, and fights for, England in the American Revolution.

I read a 1969 reprint of the 1895 The Early Germans of New Jersey: Their History, Churches and Genealogies by Theodore F. Chambers, which describes the exodus of German Palatines (protestants in the German Reformed Church) to New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey beginning in the 1730s. It gets into the effects of Thirty Years War, religious turmoil in Europe, the English Civil War and the English plan to plant a buffer of German protestants between French/Indians and themselves. Tens of thousands of Germans were encouraged to locate on the ‘western’ edge of the American colonies.

A more recently written book makes my list: The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics: The Personalities, Elections, and Events That Shaped Modern North Carolina by Rob Christensen (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2008). This book gives a really good historical view of NC politics and is very helpful in understanding how we got to where we are today regarding economy, education and politics. By providing an arc of historical development examining the past, it projects the future of the state.

Vince Bellis is a retired ECU biologist and regular contributor to the Greenville Guardian.

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