Yeah, I may get some complaints about my review, but this book is so bad, that I have to speak out.
Book review for “Osceola and the Great Seminole War, A Struggle for Justice and Freedom,” 2012, St. Martin’s Press, New York, but Thom Hatch.
Hatch is a good story teller and can write in a style that will keep the reader interested.
But unfortunately, those of us who are knowledgeable on the Second Seminole War and Osceola find the text rife with errors galore. The jacket cover says that it is “meticulously researched,” and, the author’s telling of the Second Seminole War is “extraordinarily accomplished.”
I knew that this would be a hard read for me when I saw the bristling review of the book in the Seminole Wars Foundation newsletter. Like when the text says that the soldiers left Fort Brooke to go to Tampa Bay; apparently the author was not aware that Fort Brooke was on Tampa Bay. And he failed to use any of the three extensively researched books on Dade Battle that Frank Laumer has written, which I can obviously tell from his flawed description of Dade's Battle.
I realized that this book must be describing an alternate universe where the facts are different from reality. For example; Hatch says that Hernando de Soto landed on the islands of coastal Georgia. Am I wrong to think that it was instead southwest Florida? He calls the battle of Black Point as the battle of Black Rock. And he says that a Yaholo is a medicine man, which anyone familiar with Seminole culture will tell you that it is not. Just so many details are wrong in this book. The bibliography is quite extensive, but I wonder if the author actually looked at any of those sources.
The book is lacking a peer review and edit by anyone who is knowledgeable on the subject of Osceola, the Seminoles, and the Seminole Wars. It would have been easy to do, but just asking--I know several.
The very first thing that the book starts out with is “Chief Osceola.” He was never a chief, and any member of the Seminole Tribe will tell you that. Yes he was a great leader, but had no claim as a hereditary chief. Hatch says that Osceola brilliantly led the Seminoles to victory after victory, and initiated and orchestrated the longest and most expensive and deadliest war against the US that was ever fought against the Native Americans. It would indeed be an accomplishment of Osceola having all the credit of orchestrating a long war when he died less than two years into the seven year-long conflict. And when you look at the actual details and eyewitness accounts, I can only find about eight battles that Osceola took part in, and not all of them were victories.
It is sad to see that this book offers nothing new to our knowledge, but seems to perpetuate the myths of Osceola that have been regurgitated the past 175 years.
As far as writing style, the book is very good. But with so many inaccuracies I would classify this as historical fiction.