Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth about Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride by Jeff Lantos. This review is based on about me being half finished with the book. That does not mean the book is bad. In fact, it is the opposite. However, it is a bit on the slow side, making it a bit hard to finish the book in one or two sittings. You must be a fan of non-fiction and/or history to be the right audience. Plus, you should probably be at least 10 and up due to the fact the pacing and all the information given can be a tad “boggy.” Finally, be comfortable and have time to read. You do not want to rush through things.
The base of the story is about the Paul Revere poem of Longfellow. Yet, the main part is the actual history and what really happened that night with putting the poem in as references. History of the ride itself, and history that lead up to the events, are shown by Lantos. We learn that Revere was one of several riders that night; that there was much planning before that fateful night; and some of it was based on dumb luck. He shows where Longfellow embellished, fabricated, and downright lied, to make the poem/journey/history more exciting.
This book is informative, with numerous illustrations and photographs to help show the theme. I learned things I did not know about the years before the revolution or even, afterwards. The main text is surrounded by “information boxes” that give you, “Oh by the way here is a fun fact” facts. One of the facts I learned was that due to the warning system that had been in place for almost 100 years (due to Native American attacks in the late 1600’s) that “word about the British march traveled thirty-two miles (to the New Hampshire border!) before the regulars had even sloshed through the creeks of Cambridge.” I mean, do you know how it is to send a letter that far even with our modern technology today?
One of my favorite lines of the book is: Lexington, a farming town of 750 people, 590 cows, 300 sheep and goats, 220 swine, 130 horses, 118 houses, seven shoe shops, six elementary schools, three tanners, two doctors (a father and son), two taverns, two blacksmiths, and one tailor. This shows you that Lantos did not skimp on the facts. By showing you how large or small the towns The Midnight Ride went through were shows you the environment we are dealing with. In fact, no detail was too small to mention. This helps show the enormity of the undertaking at hand. He even tosses in a couple romantic trysts that our non-Revere players were involved with on that night.
This book is fun, informative, and even though I have not finished, I plan on as soon as I can. I just wanted y’all to know about it, too!