Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Before Liberty by Roy Thompson | Book Review

Before Liberty: Their New World Made the North Carolinians Different

In the 1970s, Roy Thompson wrote a series of 53 articles for the Winston-Salem Journal newspaper that told the history of North Carolina, pre-Revolutionary War.  Then the articles were collected and published in a hardcover book.  

I received this book from an awesome park ranger guide at a North Carolina gem mining museum.  I was on a professional development trip with a whole bunch of other educators and he gave all of us copies of the book!  How cool?

I'm a big fan of colonial American history, and NC is my current state, so I certainly looking forward to reading this.  And true to my expectations, Before Liberty was chock full of new-to-me information about my adopted state.  I loved that!  Most North Carolinians probably already know this, but did you know that the famous pirate Blackbeard was from here?  And NC actually declared independence from Britain before America as a whole?  (You can Google "Mecklenburg Declaration" if you don't believe me.)  I also learned that the capital of our state was nearly on the coast, and that we have a very strong Scottish and German history.  Bring on the tartan!

Unfortunately, the book was written in a style that I didn't quite get on with.  Each "chapter" was originally an individual newspaper article, so it doesn't have a chronological or subject "flow."  You could actually read the chapters in any order you wished without getting the least bit confused.  For me, this made the book feel a little unplanned.  No build-up to a central conflict/point.  But that's just me.  Also, the actual writing style- very newspaper-y.  There were many times when it felt like someone had made a list, complete with bullet points, and then someone else had just gone in and erased the bullet points and added periods.  No flow from paragraph to paragraph.  

Not a terrible book--definitely a great book for being free!--but the writing style/format lost it a few stars in the rating.

*I own my copy of Before Liberty.

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