3 out of 4 stars
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Imagining How It Must Have Been by Richard L. McBain is a collection of historical short stories with Terry Williams as the main character.
Terry has a habit of walking each morning in the woods behind his house. While thinking about a particular major world event, he falls into a trance, and his mind is teleported to that time period. Some of the events we get to experience through his eyes are The Boston Tea Party, the D-Day in 1945, the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, the Vietnam War, Pearl Harbor, the resurrection of Jesus, and the California Gold Rush.
Each story is self-contained, and the only constant is Terry, who takes on several roles, such as a farmer, a sergeant, a captain, a Treasury agent, a boatswain’s mate, a pastor’s aid, and an Indian agent, among others. The roles allow him to experience the events he was thinking about back at home during his walks. While the personal stories are fictional, the main events are taken from defining times in world history.
I was familiar with several of these important moments; however, some stories were new to me, like the Battle of New Orleans, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the U.S. Bonus Army, so I found it enjoyable to learn more about our past through these tales. Without proper in-depth research, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of every single detail in the book; however, the author did depict real major historical events and figures throughout the ages.
The stories themselves were quite engaging, and Terry Williams was an accomplished character in every situation the author placed him. He always knew what to do, and he seemed to be close to people like Jesus and even advise figures like George Washington. His positive influence was always felt by his peers. As a side note, I found it interesting that, while Terry was married to Diane and had kids in the present, none of the past stories portrayed him with a family. He was always alone, ready for action wherever it took him.
The author is a good storyteller, and his well-researched stories attest to that. I found many of them entertaining and some rather fascinating. However, I would have also liked to see better editing and proofreading. Right now, the writing doesn’t flow well as there are grammatical errors on almost every page in the book. I found many badly placed commas, wrongly placed semicolons, and a lack of distinction between plural, contractions, and possessive. Some notable examples are “American’s,” “Reynolds death,” “its cold,” “Volunteer’s stayed behind,” and “Jesus mother,” to name just a few.
As much as I wanted to enjoy the book, the countless grammatical issues took me out of the stories on a regular basis. As such, I will have to lower my rating for Imagining How It Must Have Been to 3 out of 4 stars. The tales themselves do warrant full rating; once the book is properly edited, the rating can easily jump to 4 stars. I recommend the collection of short stories to any history buff who likes to read about important historical and religious events.
Imagining How It Must Have Been
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