Reviews by J.David Knepper

Sergeant York and His People

by Samuel Kinkade Cowan

Sam Cowan wrote this profile of Sergeant Alvin York soon after the hero of the Argonne returned to his home following World War I. York, of course, had single-handedly caused the surrender of a battalion of Imperial German machine-gunners during his service as a Corporal in the 82nd Infantry Division.

The book tells about the history of the York and Pyle families in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky, the religious upbringing that York brought to his Army service and his refusal to accept monetary reward for his heroism.

He accepted no gifts of value, except for the farm that the people of Kentucky gave him in gratitude and love. After all, he needed someplace to call home with the young wife he took right after his return home. York's calls for any further gifts to be sent to a foundation he created to help build local schools seems quaint in a day when education is considered a right to be granted by the government. Good book for young and old.

Reviewed on 2010.09.20

Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

by B.T. Washington

Washington's autobiography takes him from slavery to freedom, from poverty to riches, from illiteracy to an honorary degree from Harvard, from no social standing to relationships with Presidents and Queens.

His skillful use of metaphor at the Atlanta Exposition is one of the best explanations of how races and sections can find peace and prosperity together.

His references to individuals who were well-known when he wrote his book but forgotten today will make you want to keep Google handy while you read.

Reviewed on 2010.09.20

The Spy

by James Fenimore Cooper

One of James Fenimore Cooper's earliest novels, 'The Spy' combines action and intrigue in a splendidly described setting immediately north of British-held New York City.

During the American Revolution, many people lived in areas alternately controlled by Continental or British forces. Loyalties to one cause or the other divided households, but nobility (or corruption) was found in people wearing either uniform.

Cooper tells the story as he claimed to have heard it...from someone who heard it firsthand. His craft is evident.

Reviewed on 2010.09.20

John Halifax, Gentleman

by Dinah Maria Craik

A charming novel about a family in England from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century that demonstrates that true nobility is something that is earned, not inherited.

The challenges of corrupt government, fear of technology, financial collapse, and unbridled wickedness of powerful people are all balanced by the forthright and honest dealings of John Halifax and his people.

A good read with many moral lessons woven therein.

Reviewed on 2010.09.20

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