Monday, April 8, 2019

Review of "Burke’s Journeys," by Dorothy A. Lund Nelson

Review of
Burke’s Journeys, by Dorothy A. Lund Nelson ISBN 0970127707

Four out of five stars
 Andrew Horace Burke was born in New York City and his mother died during his birth. He was cared for by others in his closest circle while his father was at work, but he was completely orphaned at the age of four. Forced to work at the age of five, his first job was hawking newspapers on the street and in order to increase his sales, he learned to read the major stories so that he could better shout out the contents.
At the age of six, he entered the Randall Island orphanage, where he was given regular meals, furthered his education and was generally well cared for. This was in the 1850’s and there were many farm families out on the frontier of the midwestern states willing to adopt an orphan to help with farm work and be educated and raised.
 The American Civil War broke out when he was 12 and he enlisted in the Union Army as a drummer boy, literally helping lead the troops into battle. Coming down with a serious illness, Andrew was discharged from the Union Army and went back to his family. Ultimately going to what was to become DePauw University, he became a businessman and eventually moved his family to North Dakota. After several successes in business and leadership, Burke was elected governor of North Dakota in 1890. He was defeated in his re-election bid over his very unpopular veto of a bill that would have required the railroads to build grain elevators along the railroad right-of-way. He went on to hold several other leadership positions in later years. Truly starting from a position of extreme disadvantage, Andrew H. Burke demonstrated extraordinary drive and perseverance in becoming governor of what was at the time a fairly new state.
 This book is based on the fundamental facts of the life of Andrew Burke, but there is significant poetic license taken when discussing specifics. For example, there are references to specific conversations that are surmise rather than actual recordings of what was said. The style of presentation is on the order of a recitation of facts rather than an embellished description of what was a life filled with significant events and accomplishments. The image of a twelve-year-old boy beating a drum alongside attacking troops with bullets flying and cannons booming is the very definition of bravery.

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