Major Andre

Anthony Bailey, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $15.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-19917-3
Spanning six days in the fall of 1780, this modest but affecting novel is an absorbing tour de force. The narrator is Major John Andre, liaison between the British Crown and the American traitor Benedict Arnold in the conspiracy to attack West Point. In a restrained monologue, Andre relates the details of the espionage plot, the circumstances of his arrest (with incriminating papers from General Arnold in his boot) and Arnold's part in the ill-fated plan. Cultivated, intelligent and urbane, he reveals the past events of his life, his motivations in accepting this mission and the deepening of his awareness of the seriousness of his plight: that this botched venture will end in his death. Andre emerges as an appealing though not falsely heroic figure, a man who engages the reader's sympathies. Bailey has empathy for both parties in the conflict. He makes us aware that this was a civilized war, in which the participants were often cognizant of the bonds uniting them in kinship. The small contrivances in the narrativemost of them due to the fact that we hear only Andre's voice as he addresses his interlocutorsare minor flaws compared to the quiet power this slim novel conveys. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
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