Monday, August 11, 2014

Ken Miller's "Dangerous Guests"

Ken Miller is Associate Professor of History at Washington College.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence, and reported the following:
It appears that Dangerous Guests passes the “Page 99 Test,” given that the page in question highlights one of the book’s central themes: how the presence of wartime captives prompted Revolutionaries to invent themselves and their enemies anew. Page 99 features the argument for Chapter 4, “’Tis Britain Alone That Is Our Enemy: German Captives and the Promise of America,” which investigates the Revolutionaries’ initial interactions with their first German prisoners, the much dreaded Hessian mercenaries, feared and reviled throughout the rebellious colonies. The Hessians’ capture at the Battle of Trenton in late 1776 came on the heels of the exchange of the Americans’ earliest British captives, seized during the patriots’ Canadian campaign a year before. Harboring bitter resentments of their American captors, these defiant and spiteful British prisoners had antagonized their local hosts, who greeted their adversaries’ long-awaited departure with sighs of relief. By contrast, the Revolutionaries’ new Hessian prisoners soon emerged as a surprisingly compliant set of captives, with many even aiding the American war effort by voluntarily laboring as temporary hired hands in the fields and shops of their new local employers. As the war progressed, more and more Revolutionaries approached their German prisoners as potential allies in their ongoing struggle for independence, even as the breach widened with their erstwhile kinsmen the British.
Learn more about Dangerous Guests at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue