Hanyost Schuyler, Harmen van den Bogaert and Roxy Druse: Reviews by readers

NEITHER REBEL NOR TORY: Hanyost Schuyler & The Siege of Fort Stanwix Michael Cooney, Wilderness Hill Books, 2009, $18.95, pb, 279pp, 9781442156036
    Readers glancing at a summary of Michael Cooney's novel Neither Rebel Nor Tory—the story of Hanyost Schuyler, a young man in upstate New York in 1765, caught between the British and the growing rebellion against their rule—will doubtless recall Walter Edmonds' 1936 classic Drums Along the Mohawk, a bestselling work of historical fiction set in the same scene. And the two books have one other major similarity: they're both rock-solid narratives that are absorbingly good to read.
    Hanyost Schuyler briefly stepped onto the stage of history in 1777 when he was captured by American forces and sentenced to death as a traitor and spy. His personal familiarity with the Mohawks of the region prompted General Benedict Arnold to spare him—and use him, sending him as a messenger to British-held Fort Stanwix under orders to exaggerate the size of the force Arnold was bringing to assault the fort. His personal story (he was rumored to be an imbecile) seems at first no more promising for the hero of a historical novel than Arnold's own, but Cooney's vast research—and the surprisingly puckish sense of humor he brings to almost every chapter of Neither Rebel Nor Tory (readers may recall the near-surgical absence of humor in Drums Along the Mohawk) make this a thoroughly enjoyable book, full of memorable characters and a persuasively sympathetic take on the culture of the Mohawks as they faced the crucible of their existence. Strongly recommended.

-- Steve Donoghue
Historical Novels Review

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I thought that The River That Flows Both Ways was excellent. I'll be honest here-- when I saw that the voice of the story was a young Indian boy I was at first like "oh, no". There have been so many books written from a view point like that, one that , I personally, would find I have a really hard time capturing successfully. But I was put  in the mind of some of the accounts of Tisquantum (Squanto) and I though you did a very good job of capturing his outsider, yet a bit on the inside voice. I got a thrill out of seeing so many characters I had encountered in my own readings, like Isaac Jogues, Johannes Megalopensis and, of course, Harmen. It was interesting how your own take on Megalopensis was very different than what I came away with-- then again, as he is the one relating the story to us, maybe he's mot a very reliable narrator. I got a kick out of the real life Megalopensis's account of the Mohawk, because he seems so cranky and judgmental as opposed to van den Bogaert. I've batted around for years doing a graphic novel take of his account of New Netherland as a companion book to Journey into Mohawk Country. The fanboy in me wishes that there had been cameos of Willem Thomassen and Jeronimus de la Croix.

Of course, I knew how the story was to end, and it still saddened me when it occurred. Particularly because of the fate of his family, who didn't factor into my depiction of his adventures at all. At least Harmen got to go out heroically, thanks to the mad Jesuit priest. I've often wondered about the flimsiness of the prison that held him, as you mentioned on your blog, and in fact, I wonder, given the sketchiness of the records of the period if his demise on the ice wasn't a concoction created by some bribed guards who let him go.
--George O'Connor, author of the graphic novel Journey into Mohawk Country

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I have been interested in the Roxalana Druse case for a long time and I found this book to be a very interesting new take on an old story.  Mr. Cooney makes a good case that Roxalana Druse was NOT guilty of murdering her husband but was protecting the identity of the real murderer.  She never did admit the crime and people in Herkimer say that her ghost still haunts the old jail (now closed) and the courthouse. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the kind of defense attorney that Casey Anthony or O. J. Simpson did, and ended up getting executed. This book is really two books. The first is a novel claiming to tell what really happened back in 1885. The second part is a history of all the murders in the county and that’s also very interesting. Many of those murders also figure into the fiction part of the book.

- Jim Murphy, Kings Park

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All three titles are also available for 7.7 pounds each at UK Kindle Store and 7.7 Euros each at DE Kindle Store.

from the New York History Blog:

The River That Flows Both Ways: New Netherland Novel

By on
The earliest known written record of travel in the New York interior west of the Hudson River appears on an early map of Nieuw Nederlant (New Netherland). In 1614 a trader named Kleyntjen went west to the Mohawk along the river that now bears their name and then turned south along the Susquehanna River. If he or those who followed ever kept journals they haven’t survived, and it’s believed any records of early travels may have been tossed out when the Dutch West India Company archives were purged during a reorganization in 1674. Michael Cooney’s novel The River That Flows Both Ways recaptures some of that time, of Dutch traders, native Mohican and Mohawk people, and the fur trade that held them together in commerce.

Cooney’s novel is based on the one very early New York travelogue that has survived since the first half of the 1600s. Written by Fort Orange (Albany) barber-surgeon Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, it had somehow fallen into private hands and was discovered in an attic in Amsterdam, New York in 1895. His small party, which also included two other Dutchmen (Jeronimus dela Croix and Willem Thomassen) left in the middle of December 1634 in an effort to reach the Oneida tribe and renegotiate the price of beaver. They Oneida had nearly abandoned their trade with the Dutch in favor of the French to their northwest and Van den Bogaert, at the age of 23 was sent to correct the situation in favor of the Dutch.

The journey last six weeks and according to Van den Bogaert took them nearly 100 miles to the west-northwest of Fort Orange where he spotted the Tug Hill Plateau – a harrowing journey to say the least. Van den Bogaert experienced much generosity from the Native People he met in his travels and in 1647, when he was charged with Sodomy committed with his black servant Tobias, he fled to the Iroquois he had visited thirteen years earlier; he was captured in an Indian storehouse by a Rensselaerwyck employee named Hans Vos and in the ensuring struggle the building was burnt down. Van den Bogaert was taken back to Fort Orange but escaped – as he fled across the frozen Hudson River the ice broke beneath him and he was drowned. That incident serves as the climax of The River That Flows Both Ways.

Cooney, who writes the Upstate Earth blog, tells the story through the eyes of a young Mohican boy in a time when European diseases and war were creating chaos in the local native cultures. Using his wit and imagination, he wins over the Mohawk and finds a home with van den Bogaert. The novel brings together other historical characters like Arent van Corlaer, Adriaen van der Donck, and Isaac Jogues to weave a tapestry of life in the in the first half of the 17th century in the Upper Hudson and Mohawk valleys.