Jim Remsen is a journalist and author of three books, The Intermarriage Handbook (HarperCollins, 1988), Visions of Teaoga, (Sunbury, 2014) and Embattled Freedom (Sunbury, 2017). Since retiring as Religion Editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jim has pursued his keen interest in history, with a focus on underappreciated aspects of our nation’s local histories. Being a native of northeastern Pennsylvania, he is pleased to be bringing that region's Indian-settler history to light, and more recently, to be sharing the remarkable black and abolitionist story of his hometown of Waverly, near Scranton.
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Here's a Sample of the Many 5-Star Reader Reviews Posted Online:
"A fascinating book about our forgotten past"
It is rare to find a book that is historically accurate, entertaining, reads like a novel and leaves you wanting to know more about our forgotten past.
Visions of Teaoga is an exciting saga set in the 1700s. The Colonists, British and French are fighting each other and the Indians and the Indians are fighting for their land and survival.There are bloody massacres committed on all sides.
The story seamlessly takes you from a vacation with a father and his teenage daughter, Maddy back to a life changing encounter with the past.
When Maddy sees a roadside monument to an Indian known as Queen Esther, she is determined to find out the truth, was Queen Esther a woman of peace, a heroine or a cold blooded killer?
The author has respectfully and skillfully revealed the daily life, customs, languages, ceremonies and complex societies of several tribes including the Seneca, Mohawk and Delaware.
The Illustrations of Queen Esther and Chief Red Jacket remind us these were real people, the best and the worst, living their lives and building a nation.
The book is written especially for a Middle-school audience but don't pass it by thinking it is a book for "kids". It's an exceptional book, one of the best and most honest books I've ever read about Native Americans.
Visions of Teaoga will change the way you feel about American history. There should be a copy in every school.
"The prodigious research that the author has done is beautifully woven into the story"
This book brings to life a long-neglected area of Pennsylvania history and geography. It's about real people---Indians, settlers, soldiers--who become alive to the reader and live in the mind long after the book is finished. The prodigious research that the author has done is beautifully woven into the story, with the result that the characters are multidimensional and the places cry out to be visited. I've lived in Pennsylvania many years and never knew about Queen Esther or Colonel Pickering---but now I'll be watching for signs and memorials on the road and reading them much more carefully.
"This book presented the story of Teaoga and her people ..."
This book presented the story of Teaoga and her people in a very personal way. If only all history could be related in this format, it would be more enjoyable reading, and more likely to be absorbed and remembered. Hats off to Mr. Remsen!
"Bravo for a well written book!!!"
The story pulled me in and I hated to see it end as I wanted to have it go on and on. I learned a lot about the Native Americans of the area and it has driven me to wanting to know more about this history. If you are looking for a book that tells it as it truly was in history you will love this book. I can't wait to see more from Mr. Remsen. You have my undivided attention forever.
Coming in February: Embattled Freedom
Embattled Freedom explores the life and times of a group of remarkable fugitive slaves who fled north on the Underground Railroad and found safe haven in Jim’s own boyhood hometown in the mid-1800s. The town is Waverly, Pa., a white farming village near Scranton, Pa. In the face of local skepticism, a cadre of white villagers and nearby farmers set up the black runaways with jobs, land and other material support, thus establishing a settlement known as “Colored Hill” that endured into the 1920s. When the Civil War came and the call went out for black recruits, a dozen men and boys left the safety of Colored Hill to return South and fight in the Union army.
This dramatic information has been nearly lost to time, so Jim decided to bring it to light. His extensive research revealed that not only did the black dozen fight, but their particular battlefield valor changed white attitudes about black soldiers. By following the men over the course of their long lives, he also traces everyday conditions in Pennsylvania that they had to navigate. Though they were free, few of their Northern neighbors regarded black people as equal. Waverly displayed extraordinary benevolence—but white rule and racial restrictions were ever-present, stifling realities.
Embattled Freedom is winning advance praise. “A research gem,” says Sherman Wooden, President of the Center for Anti-Slavery Studies, in Montrose, Pa. “A fascinating history that needs to be shared,” adds Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, Director of the Lackawanna Historical Society, in Scranton.
The book is filled with period images. One of the best ones is included above. It is a painting on display at the U.S. Military Academy’s West Point Museum that depicts a victorious charge into battle by the 22nd U.S. Colored Troops regiment. The famous charge happened in 1864 at Petersburg—and six of the Waverly men took part.
Jim's last book, the historical novel Visions of Teaoga, gained acclaim from reviewers and readers alike. The book was released in 2014 by Sunbury Press in paperback and e-book formats--and quickly became the publisher's top-selling title.
Educators, take note: It's perfect supplemental reading for history, social studies and language arts classrooms, especially in middle schools. To learn more, click on the Visions of Teaoga tab above. You'll find a book trailer, a plot summary, and a host of material such as historical maps and documents, discussion questions, and a list of suggested reading.
In February 2015, the Historical Novels Review issued this rave review: "Admirably researched and beautifully written, Visions of Teaoga as a whole will appeal particularly to middle-schoolers, but the vibrantly imagined story of the 1790 meeting of Colonials and American Indians at the ancient Teaoga treaty grounds will appeal to all ages." (The full review appears on the right-hand column.)
In a national review Dec. 3, 2014, The Christian Science Monitor praised Visions of Teaoga as "an engrossing read that’s part historical fiction, part coming-of-age novel, and part spiritual awakening." (Read the Monitor review at right.) The next day, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran its own review: "Remsen's exhaustive research combined with his knack for crafting vivid imagery brings her [Queen Esther] to life again."
Chief Little Soldier, Tribal Chief of the Munsee Delaware Indian Nation-USA, called Jim's work "a fascinating, well-written, must-read book for anyone interested in the Munsee Delaware culture and history -- and the history of American Indians in general!” Valerie Jacoski, former executive director of the Tioga Point Museum, where the story is based, praised the book as "accurate, thought-provoking and curriculum-related. Excellent read!"
Five-star praise has also come from Amazon and Goodreads fans young and old: "Exceptional," "Outstanding," "Bravo!" "One of the best and most honest books I've ever read about Native Americans. Visions of Teaoga will change the way you feel about American history. There should be a copy in every school."
Jim has made forty author appearances in support of Visions of Teaoga. Contact him through the website if you'd like him to visit your school or organization to discuss Visions, or his latest book, Embattled Freedom.