The Rogue Republic by William C. Davis

Posted May 8, 2011 by Meoskop in Book Reviews, History, Nonfiction / 1 Comment

A blue toned vintage photo of troops fighting with the title superimposed in whiteHoly info dump, Batman.

The Rogue Republic should have worked for me. On paper, it’s a perfect date. A pre-Civil War conflict between the North and South, conflicting European rule, and a dispute that did not (unlike the Civil War which, let’s be clear, was totally about slavery) concern itself with owning other people. In practice, it was a hard to follow snooze. Davis clearly knows a great deal about his subject and as clearly prefers to talk to those of like mind. This is not an accessible dip into a little known aspect of American history. The Rogue Republic reads like a government policy paper. People you don’t know wander in and out of the text with either too much or not enough context. There is an overwhelming feeling that there will be a test at the end.

Obviously, there are people who like their history dry and dense. I’m not one of them. I want my information in full technicolor with fun facts flying at me. (However, 3d glasses are totally optional.) This was a mismatch of reader and book. On the plus side, Davis will tell you everything you wanted to know about his characters and a bit you didn’t. (Four single brothers buy a 40 year old black women and the author wonders why? Really? Cooking, cleaning, and…) So, back to the plot. Or events.

I suppose your feeling about the rebellion will depend on where your sympathies lie. The conflict is ostensibly over land rights, corruption, bribery and jurisdiction. It was also involved a group of American settlers frustrated at the haphazard oversight by their Spanish (then French, then not so clear) territorial owners. It was also (never simple, is it?) a conduit for the American government to gain control over a large area of the Americas under diplomatic discussion. Was it part of the Louisiana Purchase? Was it not? Before the term Carpetbagger was coined, the Spanish experienced the power of an American with a land dispute and access to firearms. Interesting in it’s events, well researched and carefully presented, The Rogue Republic is likely to satisfy a different reader than I. Just be sure you’ve got a spare number two pencil.

Edited to add: In 2015, updating meta-data, I was surprised to note that I didn’t take issue with Davis failing to fully explore how the conflict was a premeditated act. Madison set the stage to assume control of the area under a pretext of invitation. Just saying.


One response to “The Rogue Republic by William C. Davis