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Ethan Allen: His Life and Times

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Ethan Allen: His Life and Times
Willard Sterne Randall. Norton, $35 (464p) ISBN 978-0-393-07665-3

ethan allen bookjacketThe brash, multifaceted ebullience of the United States at its birth comes through in this rich portrait of Ethan Allen (1738 - 1789), one of its iconic founders. Historian Randall (Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor) gives us a complex, protean Allen: strapping frontiersman; cunning entrepreneur; rationalist philosophe whose deistic manifesto scandalized Puritan divines and influenced Thomas Paine; amateur soldier whose impetuosity led to the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the first strategically significant American victory of the Revolution, and later to disaster; finally, he was a Machiavellian politician who played the British off against the Continental Congress. Allen's saga was founded on a giant real estate swindle--the royal governors of New Hampshire and New York sold the territory of modern-day Vermont twice, to rival cliques of developers--that took on insurrectionary dimensions as he led his Green Mountain Boys militia against absentee landlords trying to evict settlers (a project that handily benefited his own byzantine land deals); the result, as Allen trod "a blurred line between land speculator and latter-day Robin Hood," was a new style of politics mixing populist ideals with canny corruption. Randall incorporates a wealth of research and colorful detail into an absorbing, well-paced narrative that highlights Allen's distinctively American energies--and contradictions.16 pages of illus. (June)

--- Publishers Weekly


Advance Praise for Ethan Allen: His Life and Times

Booklist
Issue: May 1, 2011

Ethan Allen: His Life and Times.

Randall, Willard Sterne (Author)
June 2011. 464 p. Norton, hardcover, $35 (9780393076653). 973.34.

For most Americans familiar with the Hero of Ticonderoga and founding father of Vermont's revolutionary credentials, Ethan Allen symbolizes rugged American pioneering spirit and candid individualism. In this discerning account, prolific revolution-era biographer Randall peels away the mythological facade and transports readers to a New England frontier torn by religious divisions and disputed land claims. Drawing on archives from both sides of the Atlantic, Randall convincingly portrays Allen as a character of "Machiavellian" morality occupying a nebulous position between "selfaggrandizing land speculator and latter-day Robin Hood." An acknowledged deist (though admittedly unsure what that was), Allen proved to be a budding intellectual whose controversial Reason, the Only Oracle of Man (1784) predates Tom Paine's Age of Reason. In addition to exploring revolutionary tribunals, debates at the Catamount Tavern, and the exploits of the Green Mountain Boys, Randall discusses Allen's lesser-known, harrowing experiences as a POW aboard a notorious British prison ship. Capably constructed and pleasingly told, Randall's hefty tome will definitely appeal to American Revolution enthusiasts and biography buffs.

--- Brian Odom


“Randall's book is a wonderful retelling of story of Ethan Allen and the revolutions he led and inspired. It reminds us why revolutions are sometimes necessary, and why it requires extraordinary leaders—often out of joint with their own times—to further the cause of democracy.”

--- Randolph Roth


Willard Sterne Randall has few equals as a writer. A careful and meticulous historian, and an esteemed biographer, Randall has marshaled his many talents to produce the definite biography of Ethan Allen, one of the most fascinating figures in the founding of the American nation. Randall has stripped away the myths to provide as accurate an account of Allen’s life as will ever be written. In Ethan Allen, readers will discover a figure whose American Revolution could not have been more different from that of the nation’s best-known Founding Fathers. Ethan Allen is a must read for those wishing to understand an intriguing man, his often shadowy activities, and his many struggles during and after the Revolutionary War.

--- John Ferling, author of Independence and The Ascent of George Washington.


This is a landmark book. Willard Sterne Randall has given us a new Ethan Allen, a profoundly American hero who transcends and sometimes transforms the myths and controversies that have swirled around him for two centuries.

--- Thomas Fleming. author of The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers.


I just finished Ethan Allen and liked it very much. It is a thorough, well-written and very readable biography of a well-known name, but little known man of great importance to America's revolutionary history.

--- Thom Wermuth, Provost, Marist College


Wall Street Journal/WJS.COM - Robert Landers Reviews "Ethan Allen"

Slate: Review by Francois Furstenberg

Green Guerilla: Review by Jonathan Twingley for the Boston Globe

How Ethan Allen, Odiferous Hero, Escaped Hanging, Came Home: Lewis Lapham - Sep 17, 2011 Listen to a podcast interview - Click here

Book review: 'Ethan Allen: His Life and Times' By Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times - September 4, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Ethan Allen': New Biography Reveals The Man Behind the Myth Sunday, September 4, 2011 - Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

NONFICTION REVIEW: 'Ethan Allen' explores the personality of a patriot by Carl Rollyson, Special to the Star Tribune

Author Q & A: Intrigue, Infighting, Industry... and Allen. A new Biography of Revolutionary War hero has lots of good stuff about the colonies,too.
Sept 18, 2011- Reviewed by Tom Atwell

Book Review: 'Ethan Allen: His Life And Times,' By Willard Sterne Randall
Sept 2, 2011- By Dale l. Walker

ALBANY, NY (WAMC) - Joe Donahue speaks with Willard Sterne Randall about his book, Ethan Allen: His Life and Times .Willard Sterne Randall - Ethan Allen: His Life and Times
Listen to a podcast interview - Click here

Book Review: Ethan Allen: His Life and Times
Reviewed by James A. Percoco


MHQ Reviews: Ethan Allen Q & A
Sep 15, 2011: Author Willard Sterne Randall speaks with Bloomberg's Lewis Lapham about his book ``Ethan Allen: His Life and Times.'' Listen to the Podcast - Click here