A Son of Thunder written by Henry Mayer, Review by Le Snelling
Patrick Henry was a very persuasive and passionate man. There are several biographies but this one provides more than just facts and history. It gives Henry incredible dimension including his struggles and faults. Mayer brings Henry alive to the reader. At almost 500 pages it isn’t a short work. It is however worth the read for the powerful insights into our revolutionary era and government heritage.
Henry’s modest upbringing is narrated with an eye toward developing in the reader a keen understanding of his beliefs. The setting is agrarian Virginia. His education is limited and modest. There is enough detail to develop an overall picture of the hardness and shortness of life in colonial times. The story line lays bare Henry’s attempts to balance the need to provide for his family and the draw of public service. Mayer gives equal attention to the religious tensions of that day specific to Henry.
The portrait of Henry woven by Mayer depicts an extraordinary public speaker, a visionary, and a passionate common man. The reader will come away with some distinct insights into the foundations of our country and the Constitution. Here is a sampling. Religious tensions within the colonies were a struggle of denominations that resulted in the First Amendment. ‘Religion’ was a synonym for Christianity. The founders were not some homogenous group of men but highly diverse and at times adversarial. There was a distinct agriculture vs. mercantile tension that permeate many of the political machinations of the day. Henry, as a leader of the Anti-Federalists (those who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in the state legislatures), had clear insight into the future destruction of our liberties by an unrestrained federal government.
All of these facets of Henry’s life and times are woven together in a flowing narrative that is compelling. This is a book that every patriot should read. It will give you new insights into a great man, a great struggle for freedom, and the ever shifting battle against tyranny.
Henry Mayer, A Son of Thunder, (NY, 1986)