Male. Son of Jerrold (a journalist) and Leona Schecter. Education: Yale University, B.A. (magna cum laude); Queens College, City University of New York, M.F.A.; studied at New York Studio School and Yale University School of Art.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Walker Books, 720 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Writer and sculptor. Exhibitions: Sculpture represented in private collections and galleries throughout the United States.
(With others) Back in the USSR: An American Family Returns to Moscow (based on a P.B.S. Frontline television special), Scribner's (New York, NY), 1989.
As a former sculptor with a long-held interest in architecture, writer Barnet Schecter is interested in the relationship between physical space and human activity. In his book The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution he brings this sensitivity to bear on the 1776 invasion of Manhattan Island by the British Army under the command of General William Howe. The invasion, which prompted the defeated General George Washington to retreat with his fatigued army to Harlem Heights, also allowed Washington to regenerate his forces. Viewed as a resounding defeat by the American revolutionary leaders who viewed the city as pivotal in their strategy to route the British, New York's capture was also seen as a strategic advantage by Howe due to the city's location at the mouth of the Hudson river. In claiming total victory on the battle-field and deciding against pursuing Washington's army to annihilate them, Howe made a decision that would ultimately cost Great Britain the war. For the British, New York was a temporary feather in their cap, for the city had for years been a thorn in the British side due to the radicalism of its residents, as Schecter shows in what Guardian contributor Lawrence Norfolk described as a "fascinating book." Despite their victory in September of 1776, Schecter argues that, "Because of its geography, its culture, its people and its hold on the imagination of 18th-century military strategists, New York was, without exaggeration, the pivot on which the entire revolutionary war turned."
Critical reception to Schecter's history was positive. Commenting on the author's premise that New York City is the "keystone to understanding the … Revolutionary War," New York Times Book Review contributor Gil Troy praised the volume's creative approach, which he described as "superimpos[ing] the historical geography of the Revolutionary War on today's New York." In Military History Jon Guttman praised the author for bringing "the experiences of soldiers, statesmen and civilians to life while presenting a balanced perspective of the war and its hardships in New York and in the embattled colonies around it." Dubbing The Battle for New York a "gripping account," Booklist contributor Jay Freeman praised Schecter's revisionist history "superbly written and often exciting."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Schecter, Barnet, The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2002.
Booklist, September 1, 2002, Jay Freeman, review of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution, p. 51.
Guardian, January 11, 2003, Lawrence Norfolk, "Gangs of New York."
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of The Battle for New York, p. 941.
Library Journal, September 1, 2002, review of The Battle for New York, p. 192.
Military History, December, 2002, Jon Guttman, review of The Battle for New York.
New York Times Book Review, February 12, 1989, Harlow Robinson, review of Back in the USSR: An American Family Returns to Moscow, pp. 14-15; October 13, 2002, Gil Troy, "Washington Fought Here," p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2002, review of The Battle for New York, p. 64.
January Online,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (January, 2003), Paul McLeary, review of The Battle for New York.*