Birthright : The True Story That Inspired Kidnapped

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No saga of personal hardship so captivated the British public in the eighteenth century as the turbulent life of James Annesley, the presumptive heir of five aristocratic titles and scion of the mighty house of Annesley. Kidnapped at twelve years of age by his uncle, "Jemmy" was shipped from Dublin to America in 1728 as an indentured servant. Only after twelve more years did he at last escape, returning to Ireland to bring his blood rival, the Earl of Anglesea, to justice in one of the epic trials of the century. How, in an age without DNA laboratories or fingerprint records, could a prodigal hope to prove his identity, let alone his legitimacy, after such a long absence-all the while defying accusations of being a "pretender," the bastard son of a maidservant, plus repeated attempts on his life? Bursting with an improbable cast of characters, from a brave Dublin butcher and a wily Scot to the king of England, Birthright evokes in vivid detail the volatile world of Georgian Ireland-complete with its violence, debauchery, ancient rituals, and tenacious loyalties. Drawing on exhaustive research in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and America-including an intensive investigation of court transcripts and innumerable, rarely seen legal depositions-A. Roger Ekirch brilliantly resurrects an extraordinary family drama of betrayal and loss, but also resilience, survival, and redemption.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 10mm | 281.23g
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 26 illustrations; 3 maps
  • 0393066150
  • 9780393066159
  • 364,561

Review quote

"Starred Review. Ekirch out-kidnaps Stevenson in this thrilling, thoroughly documented story. A perfect mix of true crime and real-life adventure." -- Booklist "Ekirch does a masterful job of detailing these events in this meticulously researched and highly readable narrative. Concisely written and well documented, this fascinating book will appeal to both serious readers and general history buffs." -- Library Journal "An engrossing familial and legal tale told with dash and clarity." -- Kirkus Reviews "Ekirch's book brings the story brilliantly to life and vividly reconstructs the violent and debt-ridden world in which disreputable aristocrats operated." -- Sunday Times [London] "A splendid story of low skullduggery and high politics, and Roger Ekirch deserves congratulation for disinterring it. As befits an eminent historian, his research is detailed and the evidence carefully weighed." -- The Spectator

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Back cover copy

This gripping book tells a remarkable true story. . . . Roger Ekirch expertly illumines eighteenth-century societies in the British colonies and the seedy underside of Georgian Dublin. His masterly, sympathetic and racy reconstruction of the adventures of Jemmy Annesley at last fleshes out the truth behind the tales told by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Toby Barnard, University of Oxfor An extraordinary work of history by one of America s most imaginative historians, a true story more fascinating than fiction. Gordon S. Wood, professor of history emeritus, Brown University "

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About A. Roger Ekirch

A. Roger Ekirch is a professor of history at Virginia Tech and the award-winning author of At Day's Close and of Birthright. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

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