In my opinion, author John Jakes is the best writer of historical fiction to grace this century.
In Jakes’ work, he has a way of drawing the reader in by having his created characters interact with actual people from history that is believable due to his literary prose. He paints a picture of the time and place that makes you feel as though you are really there. John Jakes is a passionate student of historical accuracy and it shows.
As we celebrate Independence Day, I’d encourage a viewing of the movies that make up John Jakes’ The Kent Family Chronicles: The Bastard, The Rebels and The Seekers. These movies are based on the first three novels of the same name that are part of the Kent Family Chronicles, an eight volume collection. The events of the forging of the nation begins in The Bastard in 1770 with Phillipe Charboneau (Andrew Stevens), a young Frenchman who discovers that he is the bastard son of an English lord. At his mother’s urging, they travel to England to meet his father and also sake claim to an inheritance. However due to other circumstances, Phillipe (now taking the name of Phillip Kent) journeys to America, ending up in Boston where he joins forces with Paul Revere (William Shatner) and other famous figures fighting for the country’s independence. In The Rebels, we see Phillip fighting in the American Revolution and finally meeting his father James Amberly, Duke of Kentland. The third movie, The Seekers takes place 1794 to 1814 and finds Phillip’s son Abraham (Randolph Mantooth) involved with historical persons during the War of 1812.
I was thirteen when these movies premiered on NBC back in 1978. However, I didn’t view them until 1994 when they came out on videocassette. My favorite of the three is the first one, The Bastard which has become a part of my Independence Day celebration with a yearly viewing on July 3. What I appreciate about the films is that they stick to the story in John Jakes’ novels and make histiry come alive.
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