November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to Present -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to Present
By J. E. Kaufman and H. W. Kaufman
Illustrated by Tomasz Idzikowski
Da Capo Press, a Division of Perseus Books Group (hardcover 2004, paperback 2007, now available in ebook, also)
416 pages

Publisher's Description:

From the earliest colonial settlements to recent Cold War bunkers, the North American continent has been home to thousands of forts and fortress structures. Seacoast forts were the nation's primary means of strategic defense from the 1790s until World War II. Almost every seaport on both coasts had at least one fort to protect it at one time or another. Inland forts were built to defend against attacks by Native Americans, or to defend against the English, the French, or the Spanish. So many forts were built-most in the 1800s-that there are few places in the continental United States more than fifty miles from a fort location. Yet, despite their prominence and importance, there has never been-until now-a single volume devoted to American forts and homeland fortification defense.As in their previous and very successful books, experts J. E. and H. W. Kaufmann include never-before-published photographs, extraordinary drawings, cut-aways, and diagrams to illustrate Fortress America.

IF you have a FORT in your story you WANT this book!!!

-- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

This is a great compendium with some limits that I will address. What it does cover are the main forts in America with great illustrations and explanations of the forts. I was looking for specific forts and their information and I found limitations. Given that this is a book touching on so very many forts and locations, the reader is not going to get in depth information.

There is a great deal of narrative history that attempts to illustrate the uses of forts in specific instances. And there are many nuggets of information contained in those passages. However, the reader should look at this as an encapsulated overview. There is an extensive bibliography in the back which allows the reader to pursue further information from the original source.

About a quarter of the book is from the colonial era to American Revolutionary War era. This is one of the few books I've come across that had comprehensive information about forts. In the back is also a glossary of fort terms, which is handy. Having grown up near a couple of re-created forts in Michigan, I've heard much of the life at colonial forts. Don't expect that from this book. As the title says, these is more about the fort's defensive purposes.

I'm glad to have this book in my research library. I will say for researchers of specific forts, such as those put up for settlers in the backcountry of America during the French-Indian War, you're unlikely to find them in this compendium. When doing further research for my novella, "Shenandoah Hearts", in The Backcountry Brides (Barbour, Mary 2018) I happily stumbled upon a book referencing Fort Holmes, where one of my ancestors was born. It was in an Indy published book from an author local to the region where the fort stood. And for specific forts that have been re-created, some of the best books can be found in the museum's bookstores.

Recommended for: Serious writers who have fort settings in their books across time frames in America. Also, military historians should enjoy this book.


  1. I haven't seen this book before. ONe of the best reasons to visit historical sites is to get these kind of books that may have limited audiences. Thanks, Carrie.

    1. Someone else had cited it some time back and I thought it would be a great addition to my research library. You're right--those historical sites have great source material! Thanks for coming by, Deb!

  2. Thanks for the review, Carrie!

    1. You are welcome, Michelle! If you have a fort in your story, you'll probably need this book!

  3. My dad would enjoy this. Thank you for the review, Carrie.

  4. Very interesting post Carrie.
    Blessings, Tina


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