Backcountry Fury, by Tom Zeiss

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

Backcountry Fury is 18th Century history made interesting to 21st Century young audiences. Sixteen-year-old Thomas Young participates in the American Revolutionary War for personal reasons rather than philosophical -- which is often the rational for young soldiers. As an adult reading this book, Thomas' courage, strength of character, and bravado at the beginning of his adventure is a heartbreaking reminder of teenage angst -- when youngsters struggle with their environment to transit from childhood to maturity -- and for some, their journey is complicated by world changing events. 

I am partial to the use of first person point of view in general but especially for historical fiction because it helps the reader appreciate the thought processes of folks living in different times and places and cultures. It is one of the quickest ways for an author to create empathy. In the case of Thomas Young who was a real person, Dr. Zeiss' choice of voice was appropriate and effective. We experience Thomas' adventures as Thomas does -- and eventually, the distinctly old fashioned use of language and world view seems less alien. There were moments where I got a chuckle though -- like the dated expletive "Bull Manure" or the time when Captain Jolly, reported to Thomas' Company that while they only lost three men killed and five wounded, the enemy had lost at least ninety men killed and seventy-five wounded during a battle.  The soldiers responded to this news with the quaint, "Oh Yez, Oh yez." These were examples of the many small moments that give this novel texture and fun.

However, at the heart of this story, was a sense of family -- and a balance between independence and solidarity as neighbors and countrymen. 

Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2013)

Author's Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Thomas Young vows revenge against the British Army and local Tories for murdering his older brother in the spring of 1780. The South Carolina backcountry is rife with civil unrest as British General Cornwallis attempts to take command of the Carolinas and suppress the great American rebellion. Thomas matures quickly in the life and death struggles at Kings Mountain where he fights bare-footed against Major Patrick Ferguson and 900 Tories and at the Cowpens where he leads a cavalry charge against Bloody Banister Tarleton and his fierce Dragoons.

This true story is perfect for young adults and lovers of American history and adventure of all ages.