The Man His Father Was by Pat Leonard is the story of the Leonard family in early America, from 1649 to 1863. A fictionalized account, taken from diaries, journals, and other historical records, it is fiction based on actual historical records, and containing nor fictional, but actual historical figures.
The story begins with Samuel Leonard in 1695, just after the funeral of his father, Henry. Samuel recalls his father’s experiences as an iron worker in the Puritan village of Lynn, Massachusetts, and through interactions and conversations, created by the author, but based upon historical documents, shows the hypocrisy and bigotry that characterized colonial America.
The author uses an interesting technique: the book is separated into three sections, each told from the point of view of a male member of the family, beginning with Samuel, and in first person past until the very last chapter of the section, when he switches to first person present.
It’s fascinating to see historical events presented from the point of view of a person who was not sufficiently well known to have been included in many mainstream histories of the period, giving the reader a different perspective on events such as Valley Forge, which based on this book was nothing compared to the time the Colonial Army spent on Mt. Kemble.
The book ends with an epilogue from the point of view of John Jr., the great-great-great-great grandfather of the author, which nicely sums up the book’s perhaps unintended main theme: the tragedy of war, even when it’s fought for good purpose.
A fascinating historical novel done in a unique style. 4 Stars.