“That the America his father had served in war, that he’d exalted in peace, was a notion, not a nation.”
Sons of Liberty charts the extraordinary life of Ulysses Brooke, a rising political star in Old Virginia, who’s not all he seems. When, in 1845, he’s arrested for theft and treason, the world learns the truth: Brooke is an abolitionist and secret revolutionary, with a trove of buried treasure. Readers will uncover the tumult of his past, meeting his tragic love, Rebecca, and his enslaved partner-in-crime, Cato. We’ll learn, too, of the ripples he leaves across centuries, from the suspicious rise of Gilded Age icon Sam Billings, to hard-charging investigations by FBI agent Alvin Starkman and his wife Faye.
This debut novel from author and historian Matthew Speiser is a page-turning action story of human cruelty and compassion. It propels the reader from the glittering champagne parties of the antebellum South, to brutal slave quarters burning with the anguish and aspirations of America, to the high-octane offices of high-flying bankers and federal agents entering the modern age.
Sons of Liberty is an exciting, interwoven narrative set against the soaring ideals and lethal dangers of this nation’s boiling history. Unlock it for yourself, and become immersed in this tale of romance and betrayal, cast in the shadows of America’s defining wars.
A timely read for February, this one written by an author with an exceptional curriculum vitae of American history.
Although this begins early in the 1800s, there are three time periods in which the telling of the original story plays out. It is Ulysses Brooke who crafts a plan that he hopes will benefit not only Cato, his childhood buddy, but the rest of the slaves on his family’s farm. With the realization he cannot pull his plan off by himself, he actually enlists the help of Cato and another boyhood friend who holds the same abolitionist sentiments as he.
Yes, he’s going to steal the very gold that has been gleaned by the slave market, but he won’t be caught with it as he creates a trove of buried treasure. He’s careful about all the locations having created a book in which detailed maps and instructions are left regarding the location of each burial site. Brilliant, huh? And he manages to do this successfully for years.
Enter the second era and a long one, the Billings family believe they are not only descendants of one of the three, but have the map book and proof they should legally have rights to the hoard. Sam Billings has unlocked much info from his family’s past and he grapples with it for decades.
Left now almost a century later to wrestle further over the investigation by FBI agent Starkman and his wife Faye (a woman of color), the FBI man bites like a bulldog into the story after an appearance in his office by descendants, hoping to finally get to the bottom of the whole thing.
The period of time with Ulysses is dark, emotional, and at times heart-wrenching. You want so much for Ulysses to succeed in his endeavors, his heart is in the right place, he and Cato well fleshed and empathetic. The long period with Sam could at times be a bit confusing, reconciling the year, and characters involved in his portion of the story. It seemed to slow the pace somewhat. The conclusion with the FBI agent draws most threads together, however, providing a satisfying ending to a complex and topical, well-written storyline.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars
Genre: Military Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
- ISBN-10: 1685131085
- ISBN-13 : 978-1685131081
Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: January 26, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Matthew Speiser has written numerous pieces grappling with American history, in publications ranging from the Tennessee Historical Quarterly to McSweeney’s. His doctoral dissertation examined battles over our national memory of the Civil War, which were waged long after the actual battlefields had quieted. As Chair of the History department at the Marymount School in Manhattan, and trustee on the Garrison Board of Education in Garrison, New York, Dr. Speiser engages with the legacy of America’s past every day. He holds a PhD in U.S. History from the University of Virginia. In this, his debut novel, he crafts a riveting tale with historical accuracy and a crackling, vivid style that keeps his audience engaged throughout. –This text refers to the paperback edition.
©2023 V Williams