Review of Most Wanted: The Revolutionary Partnership of John Hancock & Samuel Adams

Most Wanted: The Revolutionary Partnership of John Hancock & Samuel Adams
by Sarah Jane Marsh; illus. by Edwin Fotheringham
Intermediate    Little, Brown    80 pp.    g
3/20    978-1-368-02683-3    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-368-06129-2    $12.99

Here readers meet the original American political odd couple: Samuel Adams, the serious and staunch patriot, and John Hancock, the vain dilettante drawn into the revolution through self-interest. Using a compare-and-contrast structure throughout, and with occasional illuminating quotes, Marsh shows the sharp differences between the two. She presents these men at pivotal chronological points in American history, and by doing so distills much information into small, manageable, and memorable chunks. Despite their differences, the two find common ground when together they unite the colonists around the revolutionary cause. In an afterword, the author notes that the historical lens presented by the available resources reflects a white, male perspective on the past and neglects the circumstances of women, Native peoples, and African Americans. ­Fotheringham, however, acknowledges one such marginalized ­segment of the population in an illustration showing Hancock reading a newspaper, annoyed by Britain’s demands, and being served a pot of tea by an African American servant. Hancock remarks, “I will not be a slave”; deadpan, the servant raises an eyebrow at the reader. The digitally rendered illustrations reveal, in the facial expressions of other historical figures, much about their personalities as well as creating the historical landscape. Appended with source notes, multiple end notes, a timeline, a bibliography, websites, and a list of historical places open to ­visitors.

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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