Mas­ter of the wilder­ness, taker of risks

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

paths, ne­go­ti­ated with In­di­ans in good faith and, in­evitably, made po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies in high places. He faced bank­ruptcy, largely be­cause his su­pe­ri­ors failed to pay his troops’ wages, and by the time his coun­try­men were choos­ing sides in the Revo­lu­tion, he was caught in the mid­dle. Bri­tish brass, such as Gen. Gage, sus­pected him of lead­ing In­di­ans against the crown; Con­ti­nen­tals called him traitor for re­tain­ing his English of­fi­cer’s com­mis­sion be­cause he needed the half-pay.

Hop­ing to join the Amer­i­can cause, he had an en­counter with the one man who matched his larger-than-life rep­u­ta­tion and per­sona. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton won the face-off, and Rogers was jailed (not for the first time). Break­ing out of prison, he of­fered his ser­vices to Gen. Howe, who wel­comed him. His last great deed was to un­mask a spy gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence for the rebels, ar­rest him and see him hang: Nathan Hale.

Suf­fice it to say that Robert Rogers, back­woods child of a nascent na­tion, was heroic, ad­mirable, bru­tal, canny, am­bi­tious, du­plic­i­tous, vi­sion­ary and much more — like Amer­ica it­self. In this book, var­i­ously schol­arly, whiteknuckle-ex­cit­ing and ram­bling, John Ross has done him jus­tice.

Philip Kop­per writes about his­tory, the arts and the nat­u­ral world.

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