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The Sword and Scabbard

The streets and taverns of Boston before “The Bloody Massacre” were filled with brawls and scrapes, hot words and cold calculations. Firebrands like Samuel Adams claimed high revolutionary ideals for the Sons of Liberty, while John Hancock and other well-to-do merchants found smuggling very rewarding. The Tory lords stuffed their pockets with silver and scorned the rude Americans and their democratic ideas. Informers worked both sides of the street while crowds of itinerant, unemployed sailors and dockworkers ruled the streets and intimidated Customs officials with beatings and hot tar.

Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan run The Sword and Scabbard, a North End tavern which is home to both criminal and political intrigue. Each is a fugitive from a dangerous past and their relationship grows fitfully in the midst of the turmoil. They view the politics of the time with a cynical eye but are eventually caught up in the conflicts. Finally, Nicholas must choose between saving himself and crippling the march towards the Revolution.

"From the opening sentence of The Sword & Scabbard, readers will know they’re in the hands of a masterful writer. Allen Woods’s fine historical novel quickly will immerse you in the tumultuous days just before the outbreak of the American Revolution. You’ll experience the complex social and political forces driving the Revolution as Nicholas Gray, the tavern-keeper and sometime-thief, encounters smugglers, prostitutes, Tories and revolutionaries in his own quest for personal freedom and safety. The remarkable depth of Woods’s research shows up in every sentence, from the colorful dialogue to the rich sensory details of 18th century life in colonial Boston. A fascinating and page-turning novel that will make you feel as if you’d been present at the birth of our nation."

—Amy Belding Brown, author of Flight of the Sparrow and Mr. Emerson’s Wife