In The Razing of Tinton Falls, author and historian Michael S. Adelberg examines a little-known episode of the American War for Independence from a number of perspectives. The incident in question is a raid on the town of Tinton Falls in Monmouth County, New Jersey, which occurred on June 10, 1779. What’s especially interesting about the incident is that it pitted colonists against each other — those loyal to the crown against revolutionaries. And what makes Adelberg’s account especially interesting is that he offers multiple perspectives on the raid — Loyalists, revolutionaries, pacifists, radical militiamen, and a freed slave among them. Indeed, the story of Sip, an African American Loyalist battling revolutionaries is the most telling of the narratives in this collection, for it reveals the cracks in the revolution’s foundation. To wit, if the American Revolution was truly about freedom, then why did the end result allow for slavery?
Though fictitious, Adelberg’s accounts are well-researched, and his protagonists are based on people who lived through the events in question. Moreover, Adelberg is at great pains to alert his readers to the distinctions to be made between fact and fiction throughout this book. Especially interesting in this respect is the author’s postscript, which outlines his research methods while explaining and offering a rationale for some of the liberties he takes with respect to technique. Rest assured, Adelberg never invents facts; rather, he adjusts his storytelling perspective to account for a twenty-first century audience. By eschewing archaic language like ’tis and hither, Adelberg allows his narrative focus to remain on the events at hand and the motivations behind them rather than on the superficial affectations of the age in which those events occurred.
All told, a fascinating peek into a little-known episode in American history.