The first thing you probably think of when you hear the name Rush Limbaugh – the first one that won’t bring on a FCC scandal, anyway – probably isn’t “children’s book author”. But here we are with Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans, which is, remarkably, his first book in twenty years (the last being 1993’s See, I Told You So).
But let’s be real, this is a Rush Limbaugh book we’re talking about, meaning it’ll never get anything remotely related to fair treatment by those anxious to grind their political axes. Fair or not, few know how to goad a reaction like Limbaugh, and for some the very idea of someone like Limbaugh attempting to teach – some might say indoctrinate – young children with his scandalous right-wing propaganda should be enough to provoke conniptions and sputtering throughout the land of polemics.
I predict many 1-star reviews at Amazon and the rest. Bet on it.
Conservatives have been tooting the Revolutionary horn pretty loudly these days, especially in the literary department. While some of the most notable figures in the movement have focused on their adult readers (see O’Reilly) others have charted younger (see Callista Gingrich’s Ellis the Elephant), and this crowd is where Limbaugh’s latest publishing effort chimes in.
Meet Rush Revere (“#1 fan of the coolest colonial dude ever” Paul Revere), substitute teacher for Manchester Middle School’s honors history class. With his cool tricorne hat and matching threads the hilariously bubble-headed historical hero of this tale also doubles as the mascot for Rush’s Two If By Tea online ice tea project. Oh, and he’s got a talking horse for a friend, named Liberty, who also happens to have the ability to travel through time.
The pair, along with students Tommy and Freedom (continuing the trend), decide to rush, rush, rush into history with a lesson focusing entirely on the voyage of the Mayflower to the Americas and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620. The interplay between Rush and Liberty comes at a fast clip and is pretty irreverent, keeping things fresh and engaging throughout, though many a quip might sail over the heads of younger readers.
The highlight for longtime Rush fans, of course, is the exchange between Rush and William Bradford about the pilgrims’ early attempts to turn the Colony into a “a fair and equal society” through shared wealth among the settlers becomes a cornucopia of conservative philosophy boiled down to its base elements, reaffirming the central theme of “American Exceptionalism” by way of individualism and hard work in a land bountiful and brimming with promise.
Suggests Rush (Revere) upon hearing this plan: “Certainly it would be tempting to live in a society where everything is shared, and all your choices are made for you. But is that freedom?” Rush is surprisingly restrained, favoring humor over invective, but still manages to expound his views about shared responsibility: “You say you’re trying to create a fair and equal society. Do you think your people will find joy and happiness in this kind of common control?”
Those concerned with the historical anachronism of the character Rush Revere’s apparel, let alone the appearance of a horse on the Mayflower, needn’t be. Liberty (the horse) is a traveler from 18th Century America while Rush (Revere) himself is a substitute middle school teacher who just happens to be a Paul Revere fanboy. The implication is that we’ll be seeing them again in the future (or should that be the past?) as the pair can travel to anywhere and anytime through American history.
Of course, if you’re more concerned with historically inaccurate costumes in a book featuring a talking, time-traveling horse this probably isn’t the book for you anyway.
In all honesty, Limbaugh’s retelling of the initial interactions between the Pilgrims and Native Americans (still called Indians here) can feel heavily sanitized, hardly a surprise given the demo its shooting for. The journey leading up to the first Thanksgiving may be too historically brief for those expecting a more nuanced (some might say politically correct, hence, acceptable) glance at such a pivotal moment in the country’s history.
But the book’s larger point – the jumping off point actually – remains pretty viable. How often are kids told, let alone educated, about historical figures like Samoset, the first Native to make contact with the Pilgrims, or Squanto, whose invaluable assistance would help ensure the colony’s survival when times were tough? Heck, how many adult Americans even know who William Bradford is? Heck, do you know who any of these people were? Think about that for a minute.
Those expecting Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims to be an attack against liberals, fem-nazis, and the usual Rush targets will likely be disappointed, especially those who fancied themselves said targets. What could have been an easy retread of the radio giant’s screeds turns out to be an otherwise innocuous slice of American history, written in a goofy style that should appeal to kids of all ages and political persuasions.
If you can try to snag the audiobook version, even as a supplement to the print one, by all means do so. What you’ll lose in illustrations, maps, and other illustrated goodies is nearly mitigated by having the whole book read by El Rushbo himself. Whatever your opinion about his policies, there’s no doubt he’s a gifted performer and a master of vocal presentation. That he reads every character in his own voice only heightens the audaciousness of the whole thing.