Walked the Freedom Trail yesterday, and got back to the hotel exhausted but euphoric. The density of Revolution-related sites in Boston is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
Usually, when I take a Rev War road trip, I’ll have two or three things I really want to see, I’ll have to drive quite a few miles to get from one to the other, and I try to read every wayside marker and exhibit label I can find.
Doing Boston is different. Here you can walk a couple of miles and hit more than a dozen sites, and each one of them is a headliner. There’s no way you can thoroughly cover it all. It’s like visiting a buffet where you want to eat everything, so you just pile your plate with as much as it’ll hold and start cramming your face until you’re stuffed.
Another thing that strikes me is the antiquity of what you can see. In my neck of the woods, seeing a building from the early nineteenth century is a treat, and getting to see one from the late eighteenth is worth a two-hour drive. Here, though, running across a material remnant of the seventeenth century isn’t unheard of. Yesterday I saw tombstones that had been sitting there a century before Tennessee became a state.
It’s historic sightseeing of a totally different order. And that’ll have to do it for now; I’m off to Lexington and Concord.
It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, but that hotel and CVS have to go up somewhere.
We lost a giant yesterday. Morgan was an incisive interpreter of the past, a profound thinker who grappled with great questions, and a wonderfully engaging and witty writer. I don’t think we’ll see his equal anytime soon.
Rick Atkinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winner best known for his work on WWII, is writing a trilogy on the American Revolution.
The Siege of Vicksburg is the subject of Jeff Shaara’s newest novel.
Finally, a new book on Dunmore’s War is hitting the shelves in July. I’ve really been looking forward to this one; the publication date apparently got pushed back, so I’m glad it’s coming to the stores soon.
INSP, the cable network specializing in family programming, is going to air a colonial-themed miniseries starting at 7:00 P.M. on Memorial Day. The show is called Courage, New Hampshire, and it’s set in the late eighteenth century.
It apparently originated as a direct-to-DVD production put together by a couple of guys who met through a Tea Party rally. The guy who financed the first episode is into living history, so it might be worth a look. You can find a few short clips on YouTube.
Thirteen new sites just made the list, including Camp Nelson in Kentucky, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house in Connecticut, Honey Springs Battlefield in Oklahoma, and an eighteenth-century frame house in Virginia.
Yesterday a longtime amigo of mine picked up Assassin’s Creed III, the new installment of the wildly popular historical video game series set in the era of the American Revolution. I headed over to his place to check it out.
ACIII utilizes open-world gameplay, so instead of following a particular path and smashing whatever turns up in your way, you’re free to explore your environment and interact with its inhabitants. A few historic figures put in appearances, some of them obscure to anyone who isn’t familiar with the period, which indicates that the folks behind the game did a little homework. (William Johnson isn’t exactly a household name.)
When you wander around Boston, the architecture is all period, right down to the paneling on the interior walls. Some of the buildings themselves are historical; one of the game’s protagonists plans his missions at the Green Dragon Tavern. The town criers shout out actual eighteenth-century news, and there are animals roaming around the streets. Step in front of a British patrol, and you’ll find yourself brusquely shoved out of the way.
There are only a couple of minor things that undermine the illusion. Characters in ACIII aren’t quite as conscious of rank and deference as you’d expect a colonial American to be, and there’s a little too much facial hair for the 1700’s.
Other than that, it’s pretty nifty, sort of like a virtual Colonial Williamsburg with the added risk of getting killed. If you’re a history buff who’s into gaming, you’ll probably get a kick out of it. ( I’m more of an old school Galaga sort of guy, so I’ll just watch.)