BOOK REVIEW: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh

rushrevere2/5 Stars

Suggested Audience: Upper elementary

Up front note, it pains me to have to do what I am about to do to this book. I want books like this to be a huge success, and I don’t have a problem with Limbaugh putting it out there. But…a good book is a good book and a not-so-good book is a not-so-good book.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims has been on the New York Times Middle Grade Best Sellers list for eight weeks as of the January 5, 2014 Best Sellers list. I had high hopes for the book, but unfortunately I was not impressed.

The book is a strange mixture of science fiction and American history. The basic premise is that Rush Revere, a substitute teacher at Manchester Middle School (he also works at the Two if By Tea factory), and his time-traveling, talking horse, Liberty, takes students back in time to the Pilgrim’s trans-Atlantic voyage and subsequent landing in America.

I’m a big fan of historical fiction. And I’m a big fan of narrative non-fiction. Those two genres work and make sense. They are outstanding ways of exposing young kids to history as story. A sarcastic time traveling talking horse and his owner are not the best way to expose kids to history.

The time traveling elements of this book do not work. The constant appearing and disappearing of Liberty, Revere, and the two students into the timeline of the Pilgrims is odd. They are not passive observers of history. Revere befriends William Bradford, and throughout the story Bradford seems to have a respect for Revere. So much so, that one would expect Rush Revere to end up in the historical record. This creates problems because they are becoming active participants in recorded history, and as science fiction fans know, this is a big no-no. This may seem nit-picky, but science fiction has rules and when you bend those rules you create problems.

Another major problem with this book is the prose is not very good. I genuinely believe Limbaugh wrote this himself based upon the author’s note at the end of the book. He seriously should have considered a ghost writer for this book. The word choice is limited, and Limbaugh overuses dialogue tags to the point of pain. I hate to admit this, but I fell asleep twice reading the book and couldn’t count the amount of times I lost track of what was happening.

I listened to Limbaugh as a teenager quite a bit, and I still turn him on from time to time. As Limbaugh has often said, you can’t just turn his show on once, you have to listen to a little bit to get him and his voice. This rule seems to apply to this book because the first person narrative and Liberty the horse both remind me of Limbaugh’s sarcasm and typical rhetorical flair. I really thought it didn’t belong in this book. Limbaugh tries to hard to be funny with his characters, and by the end of the book I was literally scoffing at some of the annoying, sarcastic quips in the dialogue.

The book is short on history and long on other components of the story. The body of the text is only about 200 pages. If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say that at most the book was 60 percent historical story. Every time I got interested in the historical elements, it was time to teleport back to the present.

I found nothing wrong with the historical aspects of the book. I just wish Limbaugh had sourced where he was pulling historical fact from. There should be some kind of source notes in the back of the book. Critics of the book, and especially critics of Limbaugh, have footing to stand on because he omitted this part. This is something that has to be corrected in later books in this series.

There were a couple of positives about the book. First, it is an attractive book, and I did enjoy some of the photos that were included with the book. Second, I also appreciated that Limbaugh included how the Pilgrims struggled when their community was set up as a collective with community property. Collectivization has always failed throughout human history, and it is an important part of the Pilgrims story. This is an idea that today’s youth need to be taught.

Realize that I am an adult reader of what is intended to be a middle school book. In fairness, I may be a little too critical of some components, but on the other hand, some middle school readers are quite astute. I believe that many seventh and eighth grade readers would easily find similar faults with the book. Part of me wonders if the target audience for the book is too high. It may be more appropriate for upper elementary readers instead of the intended middle grade audience. I fear that the book does not find much of an audience outside of conservative households that listen to Rush Limbaugh. The goal of literature like this should be outside of our conservative echo chamber.

Have you read this book? Did your child read this book? What do you think? Have a book that you think ought to be reviewed? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts even if you completely disagree with me.

7 Comments

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  • LydiaJ

    I agree with most of your assessment, but wanted to point out that the target range for this book is ages 9-12. Middle grade books aren’t geared toward middle school necessarily. Yes, it takes place in a middle school, but generally, kids like to read about somebody slightly older. Children’s books are typically divided into age categories, picture book, chapter book (for new readers), middle grade (9-12), and young adult (teen).

    I too found the lack of a bibliography or source list disturbing.

    There could have been more history and less story. The characters of Tommy and Freedom were very stereotypical, and yes this business of zipping back and forth through time for a few minutes at a time was ridiculous. Also ridiculous was the horse, which served as a plot device. Every time the story got stuck in some implausible corner, voila! the horse developed a new super power. I agree with your 2 star assessment.

    According to the author’s notes at the end, the idea for this book was conceived early last year. The book was released in September 2013. It’s basically a celebrity written rough draft on glossy paper.

    • ConservTeachers

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on the site.

      Middle school age ranges tend to fluctuate depending on what part of the country and school district you are talking about. Roughly we are talking about 5th through 8th grade. Assuming that, ages 9-12 would be 5th through the beginning of 7th. The district I am a patron in has middle school 6th through 8th grade. That would put the kids about 10-14. That’s why I said this is intended to be a middle school book. The age range is roughly a middle school reader. But I’m probably being nit-picky here. :-)

      Would definitely agree that kids often like to read about older kids, but they also like stories about kids their age.

      Your last sentence is spot on!

  • kmisegades

    I think you missed the whole point. Ask children who read the book and they will confirm that it is a delight and they learn a great deal in the process. I know US history better than most, but learned a few new things while listening to the audio version. Compared to the many boring tomes that are out there, many of which contain glaring historical errors, Rush’s first sequel in what will surely be a series is a slam-dunk.

    • Andrew Palmer

      Admittedly, there are some children that have liked the book. I saw this much on Twitter when I was paying attention to the Twitter feed of the book. But some doesn’t equate to all. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting on the post. I hope you’re right about the sequel.

  • Winter Isis Berazan

    The problems with your review of this book lies not in the fact that you are older than the target audience, but is centered more in your inability to separate yourself from the Common Core curriculum. Having listened to the audio book, I found faults in it, but the point comes across. Your idea that rules of Sci-Fi can not be ‘bent’ is ridiculous. Also you misspelled the word ‘to’ in your review. It should have been ‘too’.