Give Me Liberty: The Story of an Innocent Bystander

By John Erskine
MR. ERSKINE is an engaging and urbane writer. More conventional historical novelists would succeed in being somewhat stilted and eighteenth-century in describing pre-Revolutionary Virginia and its classic figures. Patrick Henry would be mantled in a toga and Washington mounted on a war horse with a few broken cannon and a dead drummer-boy in the background. But Mr. Erskine makes his characters real. They carry conviction. They talk and act the way men of their time and place did, in all likelihood, talk and act. He tells of the great men and the troubled thought of those days mostly through the experience of them by a young Virginia planter who asked for nothing better than to be let alone, a pleasant and harmless young gentleman of breeding who is the ‘ innocent bystander’ of the subtitle. Actually the book is a sympathetic presentation of Patrick Henry, and as such it succeeds. The story ends nowhere at all, and the reader is left to guess at the fate of the bystander.