Battle Monument welcomes historian for book signing
BENNINGTON -- Author and historian Mark R. Anderson stopped by the Bennington Battle Monument on Sunday, as part of a weekend book tour to promote his new book, "The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony."
The event, which was free and open to the public, was made possible by the University Press of New England and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Anderson and his wife had flown to the area from their Colorado Springs home for a tour that saw stops at Saratoga Springs, Fort Ticonderoga, and Hubbardton, Vermont, and finally the Bennington Battle Monument. Anderson said he had met several interesting people at the signings, including several who claimed to be descended from the Green Mountain Boys, and others who were descended from Quebecois who participated in the campaign.
The book examines the American colonies' campaign to bring Quebec into the Continental confederation, in order to free the Canadians from British "tyranny." The books looks in detail at operations led by Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold, and the political and military factors that ultimately doomed, "America's first war of liberation."
Anderson received his bachelor's degree in history from Purdue University, and his masters in military studies from American Military University.
He is a retired U.S. Air Force officer, and currently serves as a civilian military planner for the U.S.government. "I can't tell you any more than that," he said, "Like I always tell my wife, I do stuff, for people."
"When I was doing my master's," said Anderson, "I took a course on Canada and the American Revolution. It seemed like a whimsical thing at the time."
Years later, while serving in the Air Force, Anderson began to see parallels between history and the present day. "At first I thought it would make a good magazine article," he said, "But I just kept doing research, and it turned into a book."
Anderson began doing research for the book, his first, in 2006, and started writing in 2010. The book was published in November of last year. Shortly after publication, Michael Kenney of the Boston Globe referred to it as a "stunning reassessment" and a "dramatic chronicle." According to a press release, Anderson's book is the "first full treatment in over 100 years of this fascinating and little-known chapter in Revolutionary War history."
"It's not fluff," said Monument employee and former English teacher Mike Chapman, "That's what makes it so good."
"We live in a world with two narratives, what CNN says and what Fox News says," said Anderson, and that there are often alternate narratives that are just as, or more, true. It was the same in the late 1700's. "One of the things you might come away with, is that Benedict Arnold comes out as kind of the hero of this story, and the people who you traditionally think of as heroes tend to look less heroic," he said.
Anderson is currently working on translating letters from French officers from the 1700's, and doesn't know what the topic of his next book will be. He did know, however, that he isn't about to tackle more modern history. "My head is buried firmly in the past," he said.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB
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