City of Glory: A Novel of War and Desire in Old Manhattan
The War of 1812 serves as backdrop to this intense saga of early New York and the woodlands of Manhattan. President James Madison has declared war on Great Britain, resulting in a British navy blockade and economic hardship. Such discontent attracts treachery, and the wealthy owner of the merchant ship Canton Star, Gornt Blakeman, sees this opportunity to stir dissent and succession. If he can bring New York and New England over to the side of Britain, he will then install himself as “governor” and remove the foolish idea of “democracy.” However, he did not reckon with patriots like Joyful Patrick Turner, famous surgeon, who sailed with Commodore Perry, losing his hand and his livelihood from a British bomb. He goes into trade buying a failing shipping company to trade with China, where he grew up as a boy. Turner is a patriot and must rally those who believe in the Constitution and American democracy. Surrounding the conflict are jewel merchants, pirates, and the town bordello, run by a comely mulatto who looks over her shoulders for the blackbirders, bounty hunters for runaway slaves.
The author brings the time alive with true characters such as Jacob Astor, who brought the first Chinese to New York as his house servants. He lived in the country, but had definite development plans to cut Manhattan woods with divisions of north-south avenues crossed with numbered streets – although no one thought this would be possible. This book has all the qualities of a good winter’s read: conflict, tension, romance, the upper and lower levels of society and a satisfying finale. Highly recommended.