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Loyalists and Layabouts: The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1783-1792 Hardcover – May 13 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First Edition First Printing edition (May 13 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038566172X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385661720
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #924,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Format: Paperback
The author does a great job telling the story of Shelburne using old journals from early settlers. This is not a book that gives a detailed historical account. Having said that a reader will be be able to get a glipse of the town and the feelings and attiudes of the time/settlers by the way Kimber tells the story using the settlers journals. Kimber does a good job creating a good, interesting flow using the journals, as I can only assume that the original authors of the journals were not planning to have them published in a book read by others someday.

The story starts with the would be settlers prior to the American revolution. This way the reader knows where they came from and why they left. The reader gets an idea of each persons drives, ambitions, hopes and dissapointments.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting stories but omits the main point May 15 2009
By david brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Loyalists & Layabouts by Stephen Kimber concerns the exodus of British Loyalists to Shelburne, Nova Scotia following the American revolution. British Loyalists clustered in New York after the defeat. Many of them were merchants or officials who, while often American born, were no longer welcome in the new America. The British government, not really wanting to do anything except get out, had to do something and somewhat half heartedly transported many of the Loyalists to Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Consequently, for a period of time Shelburne became the fourth largest city in North America, before it collapsed into a near ghost town.

The author, Stephen Kimber, builds the book around the diaries, letters and biographies of seven or eight of the Loyalists and the British government officials who dealt with them. The stories are generally interesting an provide a cross section of experiences. The notable exception is that there are no major female characters because the author was simply unable to find sufficient surviving documentation to flesh out a character and her experiences. The characters include some blacks, promised their freedom in return for supporting the British in the revolution.

The author is an experienced journalist and the book is easy reading. The material is well organized and footnoted.

At this point I might have given the book five stars but unfortunately I feel cheated and reduced it to four stars. The reason for my discontent is that the author does not really provide any substantive analysis of why Shelburne failed and the people left. Some causes are implied from the individual stories: reuniting with families in America, blacks seeking greater freedom in the Sierra Leone (Africa) colony, etc. However no where does the author bring all of this together for a coherent analysis of why the Shelburne experience failed.

Having said that the book remains an absorbing collection of personal narratives from an point in time of great dislocation.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very interesting read June 28 2010
By DKDJuniata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thorougly enjoyed this book - it was an easy read and kept me wanting to know more. It is in some respects, a little known aspect of the American Revolutionary War - what happen to the Loyalists after the war? The evacuation of Loyalists and British troops from NYC in 1783 was quite interesting. I did not rate this book 5 stars only because I would prefer to see the text footnoted to better validate the author's research.

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