The Mind of an American Revolutionary

Written by Jon Foyt
Review by Steve Donoghue

Jon Foyt’s latest novel, The Mind of an American Revolutionary, is on the surface an ungainly amalgam of historical fiction and biography, both centering on the lively and energetic Liverpool native and unlikely Revolutionary War stalwart Robert Morris.

The chapters are arranged and even titled like the chapters in a straightforward biography, and the book is obviously extensively researched, and yet Foyt’s large cast of characters talk in spirited period slang, crack jokes, and have tense stand-offs at which the sober historical record often only hints. Fortunately for readers, the book enormously satisfies on both headings; we learn everything there is to know about Morris while we follow him deeper and deeper into the Patriot counsels advocating a total separation from Great Britain and skirting closer and closer to war.

Morris’s own convictions are clear: “I believe that in the story of the New World, the result – at least some time not far away – will be the formation of a new nation,” he says at one point. “That act is inevitable.” That act is also dangerous, and Foyt fills his book with action, duplicity and double-crossing, and plenty of gentlemanly espionage. His Robert Morris is a smart, quick-witted, very earthy creation, an unforgettable figure amidst better-known names like Washington, Franklin, and Hamilton.

The combination of historical dramatization and biographical framework somehow results in a terrifically readable novel.