Neither Rebel Nor Tory: Hanyost Schuyler & The Siege of Fort Stanwix
Readers glancing at a summary of Michael Cooney’s novel Neither Rebel Nor Tory—the story of Hanyost Schuyler, a young man in upstate New York in 1765, caught between the British and the growing rebellion against their rule—will doubtless recall Walter Edmonds’ 1936 classic Drums Along the Mohawk, a bestselling work of historical fiction set in the same scene. And the two books have one other major similarity: they’re both rock-solid narratives that are absorbingly good to read.
Hanyost Schuyler briefly stepped onto the stage of history in 1777 when he was captured by American forces and sentenced to death as a traitor and spy. His personal familiarity with the Mohawks of the region prompted General Benedict Arnold to spare him—and use him, sending him as a messenger to British-held Fort Stanwix under orders to exaggerate the size of the force Arnold was bringing to assault the fort. His personal story (he was rumored to be an imbecile) seems at first no more promising for the hero of a historical novel than Arnold’s own, but Cooney’s vast research—and the surprisingly puckish sense of humor he brings to almost every chapter of Neither Rebel Nor Tory (readers may recall the near-surgical absence of humor in Drums Along the Mohawk) make this a thoroughly enjoyable book, full of memorable characters and a persuasively sympathetic take on the culture of the Mohawks as they faced the crucible of their existence. Strongly recommended.