Set in Boston and London over sixteen years, True Freedom is a panoramic account of how America came to fight Britain for its freedom in the eighteenth century.
The Boston scene is set through vignettes about the people who shaped its history. Thomas Hutchinson, sixth generation of Boston aristocracy, whose wealth is seemingly unassailable. Self-taught medical doctor Thomas Young, an idealist, meeting his hero Samuel Adams who is determined to have his revolution. Their Sons of Liberty and Mohucks play a key role in the uprising, all the time supported from London by the radical politician John Wilkes.
True Freedom is full of vivid period details; you can almost smell Parliament in London or hear the clerks scribbling away in the American Department. So too, in Boston, you can picture the meeting-place Faneuil Hall, experience the might of the British navy in the harbour, and feel the determination of the Boston people to defy Parliament in London.
Together they form facets of the main character: the Boston uprising. The facts are described but by focusing on personal relationships Michael Dean takes us right to the heart of identity and sovereignty.
The story centres on two brothers Thomas and John Pownall, their sibling rivalry spilling over in their professional careers.
Thomas, the elder, favourite son, happy go lucky, tends to get things thrown into his lap. He enjoys his time as the Governor of Massachusetts in his beloved Boston, only of being accused of going ‘native’. After being recalled to London he is determined to fight for his Boston from the benches in the House of Commons rather surprisingly as one the King’s Men.
John, the younger brother, forges his career by working all ours of the day and often night and becomes the Under-Secretary at the American Department in London, so actually has the power to deal his older brother a terrible blow.
They both want to keep America within the empire but they have very different views about how to implement this.
Again, and again, intriguing details illuminate this historical upheaval. Take John Pownall’s spiky relationship with his Irish colleague William Knox: ‘No,’ Knox said. ‘You forget, John, how poor the colonies are. You always do.’ Or Thomas Hutchinson’s fall from grace which is beautifully put together and elegantly shows the shift in power.
You thought fake news or populism are new concepts? True Freedom shows how they were used during the Boston uprising in the eighteenth century. The novel provides a wonderful insight into a key moment in American history while at the same time giving food for thought in our time.
If you like your history and want to find out why George III lost America, or want to read a striking account of the Sons of Liberty’s Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre, True Freedom is your kind of book.
Number of pages: 281
Due: 12 June 2019
Let me know when it is published
The Boston Tea Party is well known; the events surrounding and leading up to it are less so. In this intelligent and meticulously researched novel, Michael Dean introduces readers to the major players and guides them expertly through the developments that, ultimately, led to the birth of a nation. – Catherine Hanley, author of The Sins of the Father and Whited Sepulchres
True Freedom is a fascinating insight into the breakdown in relations between the British government and the American colonies. Michael has a wonderful, almost Dickensian, ability to sketch out vivid and entertaining characters from the palsied Samuel Adams to the obsessive mandarin John Pownall. He wears his research lightly, guiding us through the complex tensions at play with page-turning ease. I thoroughly enjoyed True Freedom. – Stephan Collishaw, author of A Child Called Happiness and The Song of the Stork