Reviews for A spy called james The true story of james lafayette, revolutionary war double agent. [electronic resource] :

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A Virginia slave named James became a double agent during the Revolutionary War. James gave misinformation to Benedict Arnold and the British, helping win the colonies' freedom--but not his own. French general Lafayette, outraged, successfully fought for James's freedom; James took his name in tribute. The engaging true story includes evocative sepia-toned art created with oils and erasure and an informative author's note. Reading list. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Built from an exhaustive search of a mostly unwritten history, Rockwells account recasts the American Revolution from the experience of one of the courageous thousands who fought to gain independence from British rulean independence that did not equate to freedom for the enslaved black population. While it is popularly known that many more Africans fought alongside the British than the patriots, here Rockwell introduces James, who, upon hearing that an enslaved man could gain his freedom by fighting for the Colonies, volunteers and spies on Gen. Cornwallis. The intelligence James gathers is critical to the decisive American victory at Yorktown, yet freedom is stalled until the Marquis de Lafayette demands James manumission, leading to James choice of surname as the text proclaims him finally free! However, the authors note reminds readers that the legal freedom of the entire enslaved black population in the United States stands almost a century and another war away. A narrative that is deserving of much nuance (the free James Lafayette may have become a slave owner himself, the authors note also informs readers) goes without much critical examination, and the narrow records on which it was built provide more insight about the decisions of those around him than the man himself. Readers are left with a story that tries to honor the role African-Americans played in the American Revolution while clinging to a linear history of the United States as always moving forward. With new historical narratives complicating the period for adults, this well-meant picture book comes off as timid rather than disruptive, leaving children with the usual incomplete story, albeit with an African-American protagonist. (further reading) (Informational picture book. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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