It’s time for me to finally get around to a couple of new books reviews. :) One is a classic and should be read by all. I have yet to see the movie, but will someday soon, I’m sure. The other is a great look at American history.
Papillion by Henri Charriere
This is a story of freedom: freedom that must be had at all costs. Papillion (a nickname meaning “butterfly”) is arrested and convicted for a murder he did not commit and sentenced to life imprisonment in French Ghiana, the most ruthless of prison islands in the modern world.
Just over a month later, he makes his first daring escape attempt and sails 1500 miles in a rickety boat only to be caught by French authorities and put in solitary confinement.
Through sheer will and determination, he survives two years of solitary confinement and once again makes an escape attempt. He will not stop until he is finally free.
This is a true story written by the man himself. It vividly portrays life in the French prisons: the “underworld’s” societal class, the cut-throat life behind bars, and the sadistic guards who torment their charges.
Above all, however, it’s a story of the true Man of the West: the man who will be free no matter the cost and regardless of the time it takes to be so. The ultimate goal of Papillion is not to best the guards who keep him, not to change the world, or not to destroy that which binds him. The ultimate goal of Papillion is simply to “live free or die.”
Trails of the White Savages by Gary Wiles & Delores Brown
This is one of the best history books I’ve ever read. I swear. It’s about the Scots-Irish outcasts which Ben Franklin branded “White Savages,” who became the trail blazers, warriors, and leaders of early 1800s America. It tells the stories of Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, Joe Walker, Ewing Young, and more.
This is one of the most vivid history books I’ve ever read. The portions dealing with Davy Crockett are written as a Tennesseer back-woodsman would speak and tell a “powerful lot” in the process. You become the right-hand of Davy Crockett, seeing his career as a politician in new light and his ultimate ejection from the US House of Representatives for what it really was: him acting under his own conscience (“Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” was his motto) and getting villified for it.
The tale of Andrew Jackson (dubbed “Sharp Knife” by the Indians and “Old Hickory” by the Americans) is no less riveting. He carried two bullets in his body for most of his adult life, a product of two of his sixteen total duels of honor. His health plagued him throughout his life, but his iron will and determination kept him from the sick bed and death. He has the honor of being the only American president to rid the nation of debt and keep us debt-free during his entire tenure. I wish someone today could enter the office and do the same…
Others portrayed in the book, such as Sam Houston (founder of Texas, many say, and who was also plagued by a festering leg wound received during his service under Gen. Jackson), are shown intimately and in their true light. Joseph Walker, well-known trapper and mountain man who is credited with restoring the Old Spanish Trail to California and with leading Capt. Bonneville on his historic mission across the US to Oregon (founding several forts and acting secretly as a spy for the US govt.).
This is a truly great book of American history and should be read by anyone interested in the early years of our nation’s development. The so-called “White Savages” are shown as the trail blazers and leaders that they were in a time when that was what the nation needed most.
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