The Life and Times of a War Leader
By Thom Hatch
St. Martin’s Press, $27.99, 322 pages
Osceola is a character that has gained stature in myth. His name was on the lips of Americans in the mid-1800s when the country was still relatively young and expanding rapidly. He dared to take on the United States government – not to win, but to force a draw. He wanted his people, the Seminole, to be allowed to stay in Florida, on a reservation, and not be forced to move. This book is about the life of Osceola, but it is also about the times in which he lived and the colorful characters that he encountered. Osceola was originally a Creek until they were forced out of their homes and into Florida, where they met up with a band of Seminoles. After that the Seminoles were slowly forced off the land until war broke out. The United States faced several setbacks in the beginning: inadequate tactics, poor communication, and a lack of respect for the Seminoles. The Seminoles fought a guerrilla war, long before that term existed. Osceola became a folk hero, but he died in military jail in South Carolina.
While this reviewer liked this book, it is uneven. It has its good moments, but also its weak ones. Author Thom Hatch’s writing style could use some freshening up, and his research could have been a bit tighter. However, it was an interesting book that looks into an interesting life.
Reviewed By Kevin Winter