In the Shadows
by Larry Stafford

"Many acts of bravery and distinction that arose to the phrase ‘above and beyond’ generally did not emerge in the annals of historical colloquialism."

Recognizing those have been lost “in the shadows” of history, writer Stafford begins with a slave, James Armistead, who worked as a spy for the American side during the American Revolution. The Iroquois Nation had a model of governance that became the (unattributed) basis for The Articles of Confederation and later the US Constitution. George Mason pushed for inclusion of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Stafford also highlights other relatively unknown heroes: Edith Wilson, the power behind the President when Woodrow had a stroke; Joshua Chamberlain, an academic-turned-soldier who served valiantly in critical battles of the American Civil War; Aaron Aaronsohn, whose specialized agricultural knowledge aided immeasurably in deciding borders for the Palestinian state; Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic who saved the lives of countless Jewish children during World War II; and Russian submarine commander Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, whose refusal to fire a nuclear weapon in 1962 probably saved the world from nuclear holocaust.

Stafford, an article writer who has tackled many unusual but significant subjects in his investigative zeal, has here gathered a group of silent heroes worthy of note. His research has been diligent, providing footnotes, a bibliography, and photographs to underpin his narratives. Importantly, each story is presented not with dry fact but with drama. In the saga of James Armistead, for example, we see his struggle to gain the freedom promised to him. In the case of George Mason, Stafford vividly depicts Mason’s frustration that slaves were considered non-citizens with no rights and would be so considered for nearly another hundred years. By giving voice to each of these largely unnoticed fighters for freedom and the greater good, Stafford is providing a great service. His work will be of interest not just to history buffs but also to anyone drawn to portraits of courage and determination.

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