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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope everyone will forgive me for my limited experience at doing this.
But.....

My strong enjoyment of Gone For a Soldier causes me to want to share my opinions and ask Jeffry Hepple to share some of his thoughts with all of us.

This is not a Book Klub it is a discussion thread, so welcome and enjoy.  I set no rules (other than the normal ones of KB and human decency).

Also SPOILER notice.  We will be talking about things that can enhance your enjoyment of the book but also can expose details if you have not read it yet.

I will start out by saying that I havce not finished this book yet. But am over 20% of the way through.

This book is a lot different in content from The Treasure of LaMalinche.  And we don't have the different threads going on at the same time either.

So the Van Buskirk's are part of your family tree, Jeff.  Can you tell us more?

Please  join in.
 

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Geoff, I suggest you put "Spoilers Allowed" or words to that effect in the subject!  Depending on how people read (newest first or oldest first) they might not see your warning that spoilers can be here.

Thanks for starting this thread!

Betsy
 

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Hello, Geoff. Thank you for creating the thread.

Van Buskirk is my mother's family's name. The first Van Buskirk (who changed his name from Anderson) arrived in New York from Copenhagen around 1650. In order to create a family tree for my mother, I undertook the research that ended up in this novel about 40 years ago. My maternal great grandmother was very critical of the Van Buskirks as Tories and told stories about them which scandalized my mother. My great grandmother's low opinion was based mainly upon the notoriety of Dr. Abraham Van Buskirk and his son Jacob. Abraham's nephew, Thomas, who was a major in the British army and resigned his commission to join the rebellion was apparently overlooked by my mother's grandmother.

Since you've only read 20% of the book we can't discuss Abraham's misdeeds but we can see that he was spared from hanging by George Washington. Washington's Dispatch Journal Page 78, Page 79

The Van Buskirk family settled at Bergen Point on the New Jersey side of New York Bay. This map was drawn in 1700. You will recognize the ferry and the wooden causeway from the book.

The land was leased to John D. Rockefeller sometime in the 19th century and it became home of Standard Oil of New Jersey. A lawsuit was filed a hundred years later by the Van Buskirks who wanted it back. It remained in court until my aunt, who I believe was the last signatory, died. The graveyard was moved to Long Island where it is currently maintained by Exxon. The land now is a maze of oil storage tanks.



We often speak of how the Civil War split families between North and South but rarely do we consider the even more difficult decision of remaining loyal to one's king or joining a rebellion to overthrow the legal government. Which side would you have chosen?
 

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Jeff said:
We often speak of how the Civil War split families between North and South but rarely do we consider the even more difficult decision of remaining loyal to one's king or joining a rebellion to overthrow the legal government. Which side would you have chosen?
Thanks so much for posting that info and the drawings, Jeff. It's amazing that Exxon is still maintaining the graveyard. Do tourists, such as revolutionary war buffs, still visit?

You asked a question above which reminds me that as I've been going through the book, I jotted down some points for possible discussion. That was one of them.

Geoff, I know you don't want to do a formal club, but since I haven't read all of the book either, these questions might help the discussion along. How you want to discuss this is up to you guys, but I'll post the questions here anyway.

June 25, 1774 - Minutes of a public meeting held in Bergen County, New Jersey Location 61

Why do you think the people in New Jersey were involving themselves in Boston's problems? Are they right to do so?

December 6, 1774 - Portsmouth, New Hampshire Location 81

After the conversation between Langdon and Van Buskirk, forgetting what you know about the American Revolution, who do you think is right? Why?

On the basis of the information in first two chapters of this book, would you have been able to decide which side you were on?

August 23, 1774 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Colony Location 235

What is your impression of Anna Livingston both before and after John Van Buskirk's fight with Cavanaugh?

What is your impression of William Livingston?

What is your impression of John Van Buskirk both before and after the fight with Cavanaugh?

August 23, 1774 - Philadelphia Location 587

What was your impression of John Adams?

What was your impression of Samuel Adams?

What did you think of the conversation between Anna and John while she tended his wounds?

Do you think Anna deliberately put John in a position where her father would insist that they marry? If so, what do you think of her actions? If not, what do you think she was doing?

September 1, 1774 - Philadelphia Location 1064

What do you think of he Congress changing all votes to unanimous? Do you think that will make Parliament believe that the colonists are in complete agreement and standing united?

What do you think of Abraham Van Buskirk's ambition to be an aristocrat? If the loyalists win, do you think he will be granted titles and lands by King George?

Were you surprised that some loyalists were willing to cause a war simply for their own ambitions and not out of loyalty to the King?

September 17, 1774 - Philadelphia Location 1237

Do you think John and William Livingston were in favor of the nineteen paragraphs?

September 30, 1774 - Port Richmond, New York State Location 1326

Were you surprised to learn that John was only sixteen and already deep into politics?

Do you think George King is a deserter or a spy? If he is a deserter, what do you think of his actions and his reasons for deserting.

December 20, 1774 Elizabethtown, New Jersey Colony Location 1770

What is your first impression of Jacob Van Buskirk?

What did you think of Anna's manipulation of Jacob?

What did you think of Jacob's assertion that the businessmen would fight leaving the "common" people free to "take over?" If you were a loyalist, would you think the same way?

March 14, 1775 - Bergen Point, New Jersey

Resolution of a meeting of some 37 Hackensack neighbors:

Resolved:

1. That we are and will continue to be loyal subjects to his Majesty King George, and that we will venture our lives and fortunes to support the dignity of his Crown.
2. That we disavow all riotous mobs whatsoever.
3. That by humbly petitioning the Throne is the only salutary means we can think of to remove our present grievances.
4. That we have not, nor (for the future) will not, be concerned in any case whatsoever, with any unconstitutional measures.
5. That we will support his Majesty's civil officers in all their lawful proceedings.


Which side do you think this resolution came from?

April 17, 1775 - Boston, Massachusetts

Do you think Thomas Van Buskirk was committing treason by telling Langdon how to deploy his troops? If not, why do you think he felt he was?

April 19, 1775 - Massachusetts Bay Colony, Massachusetts

"By the rude bridge that arch'd the flood,
Their flag to the April breeze unfurled,
Here the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world."

What do you think is the significance of "the shot heard 'round the world?"
 

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Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
Thanks so much for posting that info and the drawings, Jeff. It's amazing that Exxon is still maintaining the graveyard. Do tourists, such as revolutionary war buffs, still visit?
I doubt that anyone knows it exists and, now that I think about it, I don't really know if it's still being maintained. My information is over 30 years old.

Leslie also has an ancestor in that cemetery, maybe she knows. ;D

EDIT: Here's a link to the book:

 

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Gertie - you are just determined my brain is not going to turn to mush  ;)  Gone was one of the first books I read on my kindle, and it was one I found difficult to put down, but I read it so fast I am sure I missed many points, so am going to read it again.  It was that good anyway, a re-reader  8)!
 

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Anju No. 469 said:
Gertie - you are just determined my brain is not going to turn to mush ;) Gone was one of the first books I read on my kindle, and it was one I found difficult to put down, but I read it so fast I am sure I missed many points, so am going to read it again. It was that good anyway, a re-reader 8)!
I've been so busy the last couple of weeks, I haven't had time to read much. I'm glad Geoff started this thread. It will get me back in the swing.

Can't wait to discuss it with everyone.
 

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I really enjoyed the book myself. Read it a couple of months ago. Though I have to say I am miffed about one part of the story but I'll wait until you all have finished reading it.

theresam
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I am currently at 30% and loving every minute of it.

Gertie thank you so much for posting the questions.  It is not that I did not want a formal Book Klub but that I don't know how to do one.  If you would continue to post some thought provokers that we can answer to, I would love it.  Perhaps once per week.  It will take many of us that long to compose our answers.

I read a variety of types of material.  From the Greek classics, to the Durants Story of Civilization to Heinleins young adult series and Andre Norton's work. I found The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams most interesting.  But I mostly like fiction. And find historical novels great. It makes me then do research.  Mary Renault's Fire from Heaven about Alexander the Great did that. And I enjoy little known facts too.

Well this book does that for me also. 
 

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This is one of the early books I read on my Kindle and loved it. Now, with Gertie's questions, I think I need to reread it. Wonder if I have enough time before we get to the next book in the Outlander Book Klub? I am devouring books right now while I have a break from class and I have already finished Voyager.
 

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geoffthomas said:
Gertie thank you so much for posting the questions. It is not that I did not want a formal Book Klub but that I don't know how to do one. If you would continue to post some thought provokers that we can answer to, I would love it. Perhaps once per week. It will take many of us that long to compose our answers.
I don't know if I can stick to a schedule since I'm already leading the Outlander series, but I'll post as I can.

tlshaw *Padded Cell 511* said:
This is one of the early books I read on my Kindle and loved it. Now, with Gertie's questions, I think I need to reread it. Wonder if I have enough time before we get to the next book in the Outlander Book Klub? I am devouring books right now while I have a break from class and I have already finished Voyager.
Soon, I will have everyone on the boards answering my questions.

 

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geoffthomas said:
Jeff,
So how about John - is this based on a real character?
And how about his wife?
Thomas Van Buskirk Sr. indeed had a son named John who was an officer in the Colonial Army. The John in Gone For a Soldier is, however, a composite character. Some of his deeds are those of others, some are pure fiction.

Anna Van Buskirk is based upon a woman known only as Agent 355 of the Culper Spy Ring. It is believed that she was a member of a prominent New York family who had access to British secrets through Betsy Loring, Peggy Shippen (later Mrs. Benedick Arnold), Peggy Chew and the many other women that surrounded Sir William Howe and John Andre. Don't look up Agent 355 until you're finished with the book or it will ruin the story for you.
 

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Part of Thomas Van Buskirk's reasons for resigning his commission was the failure of the crown to protect his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren.  He obviously also considered himself an American and refused to fight against other Americans. 

Do you think he believed the Americans had a right to rebel?  Yes, he was on the American side, but was he a true rebel?  It seems to me his reasons were more personal than someone who believed in the general concepts espoused by the other leaders.

 

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Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
Part of Thomas Van Buskirk's reasons for resigning his commission was the failure of the crown to protect his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren. He obviously also considered himself an American and refused to fight against other Americans.
I agree, but I would imagine that it was an extremely tough decision.

Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
It seems to me his reasons were more personal than someone who believed in the general concepts espoused by the other leaders.
Perhaps Thomas wasn't a firebrand like Sam Adams and I doubt that he had the passion for independence of Thomas Payne or Benjamin Franklin but to say it was personal when his wife and the majority of his family were loyalist might be an over simplification.

Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
Do you think he believed the Americans had a right to rebel? Yes, he was on the American side, but was he a true rebel?
I truly doubt that the word rebel every entered his head. It came down to the simple fact that when General Gage decided to subdue the Colonies by brute force, Thomas had to decide if the British or the Americans were his countrymen. His decision would have been filtered by these facts:

1. Thomas was a veteran of the French and India War where Colonists were pressed into service leaving their families exposed and unprotected on the frontier. (For more read Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans)
2. When King George abandoned the settlers in Kentucky and went back on his word, Thomas rightfully felt betrayed.
3. Thomas served with Washington and would have been influenced greatly by his advice.
4. The Minutemen were woefully out gunned, poorly trained and lack professional leader while gage had 10,000 of, arguably, the best soldiers in the world poised to attack.

...and then there was the shot heard 'round the world. What would you have done?
 

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Jeff said:
Perhaps Thomas wasn't a firebrand like Sam Adams and I doubt that he had the passion for independence of Thomas Payne or Benjamin Franklin but to say it was personal when his wife and the majority of his family were loyalist might be an over simplification.
When someone like Thomas takes a personal stand, it becomes a matter of honor to him. He would not be swayed by his family. He will always do what he perceives to be right.

I truly doubt that the word rebel every entered his head. It came down to the simple fact that when General Gage decided to subdue the Colonies by brute force, Thomas had to decide if the British or the Americans were his countrymen. His decision would have been filtered by these facts:

1. Thomas was a veteran of the French and India War where Colonists were pressed into service leaving their families exposed and unprotected on the frontier. (For more read Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans)
2. When King George abandoned the settlers in Kentucky and went back on his word, Thomas rightfully felt betrayed.
3. Thomas served with Washington and would have been influenced greatly by his advice.
4. The Minutemen were woefully out gunned, poorly trained and lack professional leader while gage had 10,000 of, arguably, the best soldiers in the world poised to attack.
I think his family having been in the colonies for several generations would also have influenced his decision.

...and then there was the shot heard 'round the world. What would you have done?
It had to be a very hard decision for those people. Abraham had his own agenda, which I found very interesting.

For me, it would have been personal also. As a single mother, I would have to look for the highest potential for freedom; the right to own my own property and control my own destiny. The Engish were notorious for suppressing the rights of women. The other consideration would be the safety of my children. No matter what my decision, my family could easily have been swept up in the war.

There are those who look at the global issues (Hancock, Adams, Franklin, Revere, etc.) and those who look to hearth and home. I'm among the latter. I like to think I would take the American side, but it's impossible to say without being there; without knowing there was a way to protect my children.
 

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Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
I like to think I would take the American side, but it's impossible to say without being there; without knowing there was a way to protect my children.
I've given that a lot of thought and can't resolve it. I know for a fact that it would take an unimaginable chain of events to convince me today to take up arms in rebellion against the United States. If that's my nature I might not have chosen to rebel against my king.

Anyone else have thoughts about that? Join in, even if you have no intention of reading this book: Which side do you think you would have chosen in 1774 or 75?
 

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Jeff said:
I've given that a lot of thought and can't resolve it. I know for a fact that it would take an unimaginable chain of events to convince me today to take up arms in rebellion against the United States. If that's my nature I might not have chosen to rebel against my king.
You know, the American situation was unique. These were free settlers who had been colonizing America for 150 years. They weren't transported convicts or soldiers posted to an English colony. I think it's hard to maintain loyalty to a king that is 2-3 months away who just takes and gives nothing back, not even protection. Would it have been different if the king was sitting in America and accessible? Yes. It's one thing to take up arms against a shadowy figure thousands of miles away in a different country, and another to rebel against a government that has a clear presence where we live.
 
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