I’m reading this book, The Muse of the Revolution about Mercy Otis Warren, a playwright and historian of the American Revolution.

My Complaints thus far:

1. Who is Mercy Otis Warren? Though Stuart calls her by her first name, I still feel like I do not know her or her personality. Show me who she is and why she grew up to be a prototype feminist. I don’t know Mercy like I know John and Abigail. It’s not even really a biography in the first half, more like “This happened. That happened. Then this happened.”

2. What on earth does Stuart have against Abigail? And the scholars she seems to mention every other page- has she EVER read their opinion on the “Remember the Ladies” letter. For Goodness’ sake, Ms. Stuart, Abigail was half-teasing John. Don’t act like Abigail was snubbed by her own husband. He teased her back. And he thought Abigail to be more politically savvy in many ways…. I’m digressing. Stuart portrays this letter as John thinking Mercy was smarter than Abigail…. Oh, yeah! Do you know what else she does? She puts in a beautiful passage of Abigail writing Mercy and saying she’s a bad writer. MODESTY! Abigail is one of the greatest writers America has ever produced. But Stuart lets Abigail’s modesty act as truth.

3. Modernizing letters? Why on earth? Are they not beautiful in eighteenth century English?

4. Usually, a biography focuses on one person and stays in their point of view. I’ve learned more about Jemmy Otis (her brother) and Sam Adams than I have about Mercy. And I’m halfway through! Seriously, one would think a biography would mean that I would learn about Mercy.

5. Stuart is no David McCullough. She’s not in the least bit eloquent. I don’t expect her to be David McCullough and have his novel-esque style, but this reads like a middle school text at times. Reference problem one.

Since this is basically the only biography availible to non-scholars, I must recommend it anyways. Or, if you have a JSTOR account, read any of the five essays on her. They are fabulous.

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