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American Sanctuary


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Masterful storytelling of a little-known defining moment of American history centering on a mutiny and its repercussions in American politics and law.

About the Author

A. ROGER EKIRCH was born in Washington, DC, and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the author of "Poor Carolina," Bound for America, Birthright, and At Day's Close. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post. He holds degrees from Dartmouth College and John Hopkins University, and has received a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia, and is a professor of history at Virginia Tech.


"Ekirch's book will please and enlighten all who read it. The work of a master historian who is also a superb prose colorist, it is an example of what can result from historians' endless search for additional understanding . . . In the line of historians who engage in a never-ending quest for deeper knowledge, Ekirch now takes an honored place." --The Weekly Standard "Written in sparkling style with an eye to modern-day political connections and replete with impressive research on both the mutiny and the fractured politics of the US in the 1790s." --Choice "Ekirch has done it again . . . another vivid and elegant book . . . sweeping and eloquent." --Jon Kukla, Washington Independent Review of Books "Meticulously researched and elegantly chronicled . . . This is a dramatic story of the legal evolution and politics of the early 1800s that is well-written and masterfully told with cohesion, insight, and skill. --Louis Arthur Norton, The Northern Mariner "A dramatic tale . . . A good, readable story in the mode of Nathaniel Philbrick's nautical histories . . . Impressive." --Thomas E. Ricks, The New York Times Book Review "It takes a special gift in writing about the past to offer readers the sense of events unfolding through the deeds, decisions, policies and prejudices of dead white guys, as Mr. Ekirch has done . . . Ekirch navigates deep water in enumerating events, detailing arguments and tracing sequelae . . . Fact-based and argumentative, a real history like this may disarm modern 'patriots' who lard their pronouncements with pious references to our 'Founding Fathers' . . . American Sanctuary is trenchant in its drawn parallels to our day." --Philip Kopper, The Washington Times "A gifted storyteller . . . absorbing . . . The thoroughness of Ekirch's research, his attention to detail, combined with his considerable narrative skills, make American Sanctuary an engrossing, informative and enjoyable read." --Ben McC. Moise, The Post and Courier "Great new book: American Sanctuary by Roger Ekirch, about the battle that resulted in the US granting asylum to refugees. Very timely!" --Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder of The Huffington Post "It is always gratifying to learn history you don't know. In this case, the subject is a specific incident with which the vast majority of Americans are unfamiliar but revolves around one of the major controversies between the nascent American Republic and its former mother country, Great Britain, and questioned the fundamental American belief in the provision of asylum to the oppressed and persecuted." --Stuart McClung, New York Journal of Books "Deeply researched and elegantly written . . . Gripping and timely . . . Ekirch is such a masterful storyteller that American Sanctuary reads like a mystery . . . The most surprising of this book's many insights is that, after the acrimony of the election of 1800, Americans returned to--and even broadened--a common definition of American citizenship rooted in the concept of liberty." --Kathleen DuVal, The Wall Street Journal "Delves into the far-reaching ramifications of a violent 18th-century mutiny on the HMS Hermione, a British frigate . . . Ekirch builds a strong case that the politics informing the controversy were instrumental in the historical refusals of the U.S. to extradite aliens charged solely with political crimes. Ekirch, a meticulous historian who writes with flair, brings the political theatre of the 1800 election into full view . . . Persuasive . . . A complex and instructive tale." --Publishers Weekly (Book of the Week) "Ekirch does an admirable job bringing to light this unfamiliar history, using it as a vehicle to describe the early state of American politics in postrevolutionary times . . . Readers will be treated to a concise, unique moment in the nation's past that would have aftershocks for years to come." --Keith Klang, Library Journal "Ekirch covers the murderous 1797 mutiny aboard HMS Hermione in all its drunken excess, tracks the worldwide hunt and capture of some of the perpetrators, and then offers a masterful dissection of the political consequences of the Robbins affair . . . The Robbins controversy featured arguments about alien rights, asylum, national identity, and the meaning and scope of American citizenship, all of which persist and all of which Ekirch handles with remarkable dexterity." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A dramatic narrative linking the stories of a fierce, bloody mutiny on a British war vessel in 1797 to a legal battle over extradition that rocked John Adams' administration, shaped the nation's developing party system, and contributed to Adams' defeat in the bitter Presidential struggle of 1800 and to the election of Thomas Jefferson." --Bernard Bailyn, author of The Barbarous Years "Roger Ekirch has done it again--another enthralling narrative that grows more important as the reader reflects upon its meaning." --David Hackett Fischer, author of Washington's Crossing "Although Roger Ekirch brings to this fascinating account of mutiny, martyrdom, and politics in the early American Republic the imagination and flair of a seasoned novelist, he is actually a superb historian; and the story he tells about America as the asylum for the oppressed of the world two centuries ago is not only true but timely." --Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty "One of the most important--and enjoyable--books I have read in many years . . . An extraordinary journey. Ekirch's gripping narrative brings a largely forgotten episode to life, illuminating its immediate impact on party politics in a polarized, revolutionary age and on the new nation's enduring identity as an asylum of liberty. Ekirch's brilliant reconstruction is a triumph of historical research and analysis." --Peter S. Onuf, Professor of History at the University of Virginia "Fascinating. Ekirch is a marvelous storyteller. Beautifully written and engrossing, a book that should be of interest, to the historian, and to the general public. An important addition to our understanding of early American history." --James Roger Sharp, author of American Politics in the Early Republic "Packed with drama. Ekirch tells this story with rich and powerful prose, demonstrating how this saga of the mutiny on the Hermione helped Americans develop their national identity during the early republic." --Paul A. Gilje, author of Liberty on the Waterfront

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