* A heady cocktail of fact and fiction this is a hilarious exploration of the lacunae in official histories, demonstrating that it's the fittest who survive - but the fittest are not necessarily the biggest and strongest. The sequel to the hugely successful A VERY ENGLISH AGENT
Eddie Bosham (aka Charlie Boylan) is in prison on a murder charge. But he's not worried. He's innocent, and, anyway, he has hidden proof of a ghastly scandal that could bring down the monarchy.Taking up his memoirs from where we left him, marooned on the Galap gos Islands, we find Eddie offering a young Charles Darwin an explanation of why the finches on the islands vary. In Texas, staunchly loyal to whichever side will win, he spies for General Santa Anna at the Alamo and, with the help of Emily Morgan, the ravishingly beautiful Yellow Rose of Texas, for Sam Houston at San Jacinto. Eddie works the Mississippi riverboats as a cardsharp. Caught cheating, he is forced to jump ship and inadvertently stumbles across the secret that will launch the Californian Gold Rush. Finally, having traversed the girth of a nation, his disgraceful saga ends, back east, at a highly inflammatory revivalist meeting.
Tremendous fun, as Julian Rathbone plays fast and loose with great swathes of American history . . . He wears his learning lightly and has a disarmingly flippant side. BIRTH OF A NATION is notable for the sheer breadth of the material it contains. The narrative meanders, but to excellent purpose, as Rathbone finds a succession of contrasting milieus, all superbly described, for his itinerant hero . . . the novel can be recommended without reservation. It has all the ingredients -- a likeable hero, a string of feisty heroines, well-drawn locales, dramatic reversals of fortune -- of the classic English adventure story - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Julian Rathbone has always set subversively right the things most popular fiction is content to leave wrong. His thrillers are in the fine tradition of Eric Ambler: radical critiques of the way things are, and of the way most thrillers accept that status - INDEPENDENT
If history, as Marx suggested, repeats itself first as tragedy and next as farce, then Charlie's rollicking version of it is firmly in the second camp - FINANCIAL TIMES
Clever stuff this. Rathbone writes well, has a vast knowledge of his subject, and is witty - HERALD