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19 June 2017

Rush Revere {Crew Review}

Adventures of Rush Revere

I follow politics the best I can, and care deeply about the Constitution, but I don't enjoy talk radio at all. So, to be honest, I wasn't overly excited about the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series by Rush Limbaugh. However, I've been very pleasantly surprised by the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. They've been fun to read myself, and I feel like they're a great way to introduce kids to some of the key events in American history. There are five volumes in the series:

  • Brave Pilgrims
  • First Patriots
  • American Revolution
  • Star-Spangled Banner
  • The Presidency
Adventures of Rush Revere

Diagram of the Mayflower;
Brave Pilgrims
I'm not one that sniffs pages of old books because they smell a little like vanilla, but I do enjoy beautiful books -- and these books are beautiful. They're hardcover, with dust jackets, and they arrived tied up in a blue ribbon. The paper is a delight. Just the right weight. The drawings are colored brightly without being garish. The layout is lovely. My office supplies loving heart was unexpectedly delighted by handling these books. I opened up the first one -Brave Pilgrims- and the first thing I found was an amazingly detailed diagram of a ship, with cut-aways, so you can see into the interior, and labels for all the ship terms that I usually just gloss over. It's the clearest ship diagram I've seen in a while, and I spent several minutes just exploring it, reading through all the various labeled parts before I started reading the story. Typically, I just flip to the story and dive in, but the diagram was so inviting and I lingered over it a little.

I read the introduction, and it really resonated:

I want to try to help you understand what "American Exceptionalism" and greatness is all about. It does not mean that we Americans are better than anyone else. It does not mean that there is something uniquely different about us as human beings compared to other people in the world. It does not mean that we as a country have never faced problems of our own. 

American Exceptionalism and greatness means that America is special because it is different from all other countries in history. It is a land built on true freedom and individual liberty... In most parts of the world, dreams never become more than dreams. In the United States, they come true every day. There are so many stories of Americans who started with very little, yet dreamed big, worked very hard, and became extremely successful. 

The sad reality is that since the beginning of time, most citizens of the world have not been free. For hundreds and thousands of years, many people in other civilizations  and countries were servants to their kings, leaders, and government... The United States of America is unique because it is the exception to all this. Our country is the first country ever to be founded on the principle that all human beings are created free people. The Founders of this phenomenal country believed all people were born to be free as individuals. And so, they established a government and leadership that recognized and established this for the first time ever in the world! ... America is a place where you can think, believe, and express yourself as you want. You can dream as big as you can and nothing is holding you back.

It was dinner time; I was supposed to be cooking, but by this point, I was curious, so I flipped to the introduction. I was also skeptical: the main character is named after a radio personality. How good can they be? A page and a half later, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself hooked, suddenly annoyed by the fact that I needed to cook dinner, rather than sit down and read.

Rush Revere and students;
Star-Spangled Banner.
It's a fun premise: Rush Revere is a substitute history teacher, and the stories are the tales of his shenanigans, taking some of his students back in time to be eye-witnesses to history. As an adult reader, I found that I had to actively choose to suspend disbelief: the Pilgrims didn't seem at all bothered by a history teacher accompanied by modern-reference dropping kids who pops in, is absent for months at a time, and then stops by again just in time for another major event. Knowing that less than 100 years from the Mayflower Compact, that same colony would experience the Salem witch trials, I found it hard to believe that they would be so calm about modern strangers showing up at random intervals with flimsy cover stories. However. I think that it's worth the effort suspending disbelief for these books. They do a couple of things really well:

Painting of the Pilgrims;
Brave Pilgrims.
  • These books clearly distinguish between historical figure and modern additions. This distinction is clear in the text and in the illustrations, where all modern characters are cartoonish, but the pictures of the historical figures are real art. The difference is obvious. The time travel device makes clear who is made up and who is real: all fictional characters are modern observers. One of the weakness of historical fiction is the way that it can be hard to pick the real from the make-believe, but that's not the case here.
  • They show the role of God in history. So many times He is excluded, but these books really do a beautiful job of shedding light on how the participants in our history were very aware of God in their lives, and that this was a thing that they very much wanted. Their awareness of their need for God, and their gratitude for His assistance is included, but not in an overdone kind of way: it's just a natural part of the story. For example, from the story of how John Howland, who later became the 13th signer of the Mayflower Compact, nearly went overboard: 

    After several more minutes, the man was hauled back into the boat. He rolled to his side and coughed up seawater.
    "Take him to my cabin!" the captain ordered.
    Two sailors pulled the man to his feet. They helped him up the ladder to the quarterdeck and into the captain's cabin. 
    "He's lucky to be alive," I said as I patted William on the back.
    "Not luck," William said. "It's a miracle. Surely, this is a divine sign. We will ask Elder Brewster. Whenever there is doubt or fear among the passengers we can always turn to him for guidance and strength. He has great wisdom and spiritual strength."
    -Brave Pilgrims, p76

A little about Brave Pilgrims from Hero(10): "It was a time-jumping horse that Revere had, named Liberty, and he and Liberty traveled back in time for the history lessons. He recorded the history lessons while he was there on his phone, and it transmitted back to a receiver in the classroom. And talked with some Pilgrims that were going to the new world. I learned that some of them traveled aboard the Mayflower, and I had no idea about the Mayflower Compact, which happened later on. The Mayflower Compact was important because it set the building blocks for the new colony. It was an agreement that the people there would help each other in times of need, as well as other things. One surprising part was when the Billington boys snuck down between decks and fired off a musket. William Bradford, one of the colony's leaders, was rather unhappy when he discovered that the Billington boys had fired off the musket because it was extremely dangerous! I bet it was possible that they could have sunk the ship!"  

Document reproduction;
First Patriots.
I also read First Patriots, which is set just prior to the American Revolution. Readers are introduced to Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, King George III, and other figures from the time, as well as several of the key events in the pre-Revolution period. Rush Revere and his students even participate in the Boston Tea Party, which gives readers ringside seats to events, and it does a good job of explaining why things happened the way they did. One thing that was brought out that had never occurred to me was that the Patriots did the Tea Party with eyes wide open to the likely reaction of the Crown to their actions: they knew they were kicking the hornets' nest, and they thought the principle of the matter was worth the trouble it was going to cause them. I had never really considered that aspect of the event before. The Tea Party scene contained one of my favorite quotes from the book, attributed to Samuel Adams:

I believe God wants men to be free. I choose to believe that there is a force greater than our own here tonight. I can feel it in the air and see it in the stars. God willing, we will accomplish this mission. It is only the beginning of what we will need to do. Fear will try to stop us, but we will not let it. People who live with fear will never be free. Remember this, Tommy and Cam: We are the fear chasers. We are the hope givers. We are the freedom builders. We are the Sons of Liberty!"
-First Patriots, p195

Samuel Adams is, after reading this book, somebody that I'd like to read more about. I've seen him spoken of as being a blunt and sometimes abrasive person, but this story depicts him as being quite hard to get along with, and now I'm curious and want to learn more. That, I think, is a sign of a good introductory work: it leaves you hungry for more, wanting to go deeper.

Cannon from Ft. Ticonderoga
American Revolution

Cannon transport.
American Revolution
After he read Brave Pilgrims, Hero chose to read American Revolution. He said: "It covered the three battles, Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord, and the Fort Ticonderoga, where they got all those cannons from. They brought back 59 cannons. A cool part was that they used flat-bellied boats to haul the cannons back. There was pictures of that. And then, when they got back, pretty soon after that they declared their Independence."

Hero and I both enjoyed the books, and I think that they are a valuable addition to our family library, and would happily recommend them to others.

If you want to read more reviews of the Rush Revere books, click the banner below.


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