Cover image for The year of the hangman
The year of the hangman
Blackwood, Gary L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
261 pages ; 22 cm
In 1777, having been kidnapped and taken forcibly from England to the American colonies, fifteen-year-old Creighton becomes part of developments in the political unrest there that may spell defeat for the patriots and change the course of history.
Reading Level:
820 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.9 10.0 61396.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.2 15 Quiz: 31842 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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It's 1777-the rebellious American colonies have been soundly defeated by the powerful British redcoats, and the imprisoned General Washington is to hang from the end of a gibbet. That's the situation that faces Creighton Brown, a seventeen-year-old Britisher who is abducted and arrives in America with nothing but an attitude. Creighton comes to settle in the heart of the rebel stronghold-Benjamin Franklin's house, where the banned Liberty Tree is secretly published. Creighton is expected to spy for the British, but as he comes to know more patriots, he must consider "turning his coat" and joining the rebels. No boring historical novel, this provocative "alternate history" nearly jumps from the page with nonstop action, including a frigate battle, prison escape, arson, code-cracking, and a bona fide duel. Acclaimed and award-winning author Gary Blackwood's masterful blending of fiction with real characters and events results in a thought- provoking page-turner about a tumultuous time.

Author Notes

Gary Blackwood has written many novels, among them the best-selling The Shakespeare Stealer and Shakespeare's Scribe .

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Blackwood, the author of The Shakespeare Stealer (1998) and Wild Timothy (1987), creates a novel of alternate history set in 1777, after British forces have trounced the Continental Army and captured General Washington. Fifteen-year-old Creighton, wastrel son of a once-wealthy English family, finds himself bundled off to America for the good of his character. When his uncle's ship is attacked by a remnant of the American forces led by their stalwart general Benedict Arnold, Creighton is taken to New Orleans. There he befriends Benjamin Franklin and others still plotting against the British. Well imagined and well plotted, the story turns on questions of honor and of loyalty to one's country, one's family, and oneself. Readers will occasionally find themselves doing a mental doubletake when discovering some new non-historical fact, but having the cage of preconceived notions rattled is a pleasure of alternate history novels, of which perhaps the best children's literature example is Joan Aiken's Dido Twite series. In the appended author's note, Blackwood separates fact from fiction and points interested readers to a Web site on "uchronica," or alternate history. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this adventurous, if somewhat unrealistic, novel, Blackwood (The Shakespeare Stealer) imagines what would have happened if the Americans lost the Revolutionary War. In 1777 (called the Year of the Hangman "because the three sevens in the date resembled the miniature gallows" and because of all the British traitors hanged), spoiled 15-year-old Creighton is taken from London by force, and sent to the Colonies to live with his uncle. But when Creighton accompanies his uncle, an unkind Englishman named Colonel Gower, to a new post in West Florida, their boat is seized by patriot privateers, led by the infamous Benedict Arnold. They bring the prisoners to the Spanish territory of New Orleans and imprison Gower, but take Creighton to live with Benjamin Franklin. Creighton agrees to spy for Gower, discovering that Franklin publishes a revolutionary paper, but his conscience begins to bother him. Not only are Franklin and his friends kind to Creighton but the lines between what is "good or bad, right or wrong" blur. A few characters seem stilted, such as Sophie, a hot-headed, French-speaking maid, and Peter, a warmhearted giant. But history buffs will recognize some clever dialogue ("It's a far more difficult thing to make up your own mind about what's right and act accordingly," Arnold tells Creighton) and the hero struggles with compelling questions, such as the meaning of honor and the value of war. Jail escapes, duels, code-breaking and more keep the story moving. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8-10-It is 1777, and the British have just put down the American rebellion and captured its leader, George Washington. In Bristol, England, 15-year-old Creighton Brown is rapidly falling into the dissolute ways of the idle British aristocracy. In desperation, his mother has him apprehended and sent to his uncle, a colonel in the British army serving in the colonies. Soon after his arrival, he and his uncle are taken prisoner by Benedict Arnold and Creighton ends up in Spanish-controlled New Orleans, sharing a house with Benjamin Franklin, who is part of a community of American patriots who have escaped the British. While there, Creighton begins to question all that he has ever believed about honor, loyalty, and the British empire. He learns that his own father was not killed in the war, but was imprisoned for warning a group of Americans about an impending massacre. Creighton eventually takes up the American cause and goes on a clandestine mission with Arnold to search for Washington. Although they learn that Washington has been hanged, Creighton is reunited with his father, and the two return to New Orleans to build a new life. Narrator Jeff Woodman uses a variety of accents to make the characters come alive in this fast-paced "what might have been" story of the American Revolution by Gary Blackwood (Dutton, 2002). Young adult listeners will both thrill to the action and come of age with Creighton, making this a very good choice for any library.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.