B. CRAIG GRAFTON - BOOK REVIEW-THE BOSTON MASSACRE A FAMILY HISTORY. (DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.)
Author is a retired attorney who started writing stories for something to do in his rusting years. He has had seventy some published in online magazines, including this one, and a half dozen or so in book anthologies. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Book Review-The Boston Massacre A Family History. (Don’t judge a book by its cover.)
What drew my attention to the book The Boston Massacre A Family History by Serena Zabin was its cover that showed four black caskets with a set of initials at the top of each and a skull and crossbones underneath them. I was interested in learning about the Boston Massacre so I jumped to the conclusion that this book was about these four victims and their families. I was wrong. In fact the names of the deceased are not disclosed in the book. I knew of course that the initials C A were for Crispus Attucks and his name is mentioned at the end concerning the trial of the British soldiers charged with murder. But nowhere is it pointed out that he is one of the deceased. Being a Texan, I also knew that the initials S M stood for Samuel Maverick. There is a famous Texas patriot by that name and I wanted to know if there was a connection between the two of them but I never got one. Also I wanted to know why this Boston Samuel Maverick’s coffin was different from the others. Why besides having the skull and crossbones on it, it also had a scythe, an hourglass, the number 17, and a symbol before the number that I assume stands for his age. I never found out. As to the names of the other two, J C and S G, they remain a mystery. There was also a fifth victim who died later of his wound and his casket and initials are on the book’s spine and the book does tell us who he was but like the others it too doesn’t disclose his family history.
That’s because the book is not about those who died at the Boston Massacre. It is about the women who were married to British soldiers there at the time of the massacre. The book’s title should have been: Women Married To British Soldiers At The Time Of The Boston Massacre. It was the old bait and switch trick and I fell for it. Thank God I got the book from the library and didn’t buy it.
On the other hand though I admit that at first that I got drawn in but after I read a little further, I felt as if I was being taken for a ride down the underrepresented women of history road and the author was on a mission to resurrect and honor these women for no other reason than they were women and they were there.
What I wanted to know was the story of Crispus Attucks, the mixed race man, and the story of the Maverick family and the other fellows whoever they were. Instead I got fed stories about women who got married to or got pregnant by British soldiers, how they interacted, being a mixed nationality family, with the other Bostonians, how the British kept shuffling their troops around disrupting family life, and how unfair it was that these women weren’t eligible for public aid from the city of Boston.
Okay that’s fine but don’t be drawing us in with false advertising. This book boils down to chick lit history and does a good job at it. But the five people killed at the Boston Massacre were men. Duh write about them. They were the heroes not the women. And furthermore don’t be making these women out as if they were victims of some kind or other. They chose the army life when they married a soldier.
At the end the author says. “We think of the American Revolution as a political event, but it was much more like a bad divorce.” With that statement the author totally lost all credibility with me. I had been a lawyer in my previous life and had fought a battle or two in a few bad divorces back in the day but no one ever got killed in them like they did in the American Revolution. Though one client did kill himself to stick it to his wife. To suggest that the American Revolution was like a judicial proceeding is laughable unless of course one is desperate for a simile or metaphor or whatever to show off one’s literary poetic writing skills.
So in conclusion if you want to read about the women married to British soldiers stationed in Boston at the time of the Boston Massacre and their problems this book is for you. If you want to read about the men in the coffins on the cover and their family histories, forget it. Remember: Don’t judge a book by its cover.