Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 87%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $175.00   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 1 of 3
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 1 of 3
Sort by


An evocative and highly original narrative that redefines America’s character and identity.

With the same mix of compelling narrative history and captivating historical argument that made his previous book, Measuring America, such a success, Andro Linklater relates in fascinating detail how the borders and boundaries that formed states and a nation inspired the sense of identity that has ever since been central to the American experiment. Challenging Frederick Jackson Turner’s famed frontier thesis, he argues that we are defined not by open spaces but by boundaries. Linklater weaves his provocative arguments into a dramatic story line, wherein the actions of Andrew Ellicott, America’s greatest surveyor; Thomas Jefferson; the treasonous general James Wilkinson; Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas; and numerous hitherto invisible settlers all illuminate the shaping of the nation. This brilliant book will alter forever readers’ perception of America and what it means to be an American.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Contradicting historian Frederick Jackson Turner's famous "frontier thesis," Linklater (Measuring America, 2002, etc.) claims it was America's borders that shaped our national character. Pioneers on the borderless frontier, Turner maintained, hated government control and craved the liberty provided by open, free land. Not so, insists Linklater. True, settlers grabbed free land wherever they could, but what they yearned for above all was legal title to their property. Once they'd acquired their land, each wave of settlers immediately set to work establishing a system to provide law and order and to recognize their claims. From 1783 on, new states rushed to send out surveyors to establish their borders, then mark out sections to record, sell and tax. This was critical, Linklater points out, because land sales provided virtually 100 percent of a state's revenue. The author reintroduces a major historical character, unknown today but familiar to the founding fathers and early presidents: astronomer and surveyor Andrew Ellicott. Quickly acquiring a reputation for dazzling precision, he spent 40 years roaming the nation, laying out borders that stand to this day and in the process making political decisions that also stand. Ellicott (not Pierre L'Enfant) surveyed the new capital, Washington, and drew the original map that appears in history books. Marking our borders proved to be a surprisingly contentious process. Moving into the 19th century, Linklater reminds us that it was less slavery itself than disputes over its boundaries that inflamed both sides. Campaigning in 1860, Lincoln denied an interest in abolition but stressed keeping slavery within a defined area. An ingenious premisedelivered in lively, accessible prose backed by impressive research.
From the Publisher
"A history of America that looks at land from a slightly different angle - that of real estate...Mr. Linklater's history is one of increasing federal power. A territory had to meet federal standards before it could be admitted as a state, and so the interior became more loyal to federal power than the original 13 colonies. The most exciting episode in this book concerns a plot to break Kentucky and Tennessee off from the union, in collusion with the Spanish government at Natchez. Only the good offices of Andrew Ellicott, Mr. Linklater's favorite surveyor and perennial hero, prevented the conspiracy, by proving in 1797 that Natchez actually lay within American territory, in modern day Mississippi - as opposed to Spanish Florida. After Ellicott promised the local white landowners that their property - including slaves - would be preserved, the assumption of American jurisdiction was assured."—Benjamin Lytal, New YorkSun

"Linklater gives us a different perspective than we usually get when reading about how the U.S. developed. The frontier experience took place not only in wide open spaces, but within the borders of the United States. How that happened is an important story and Linklater tells it splendidly."—Roger Bishop, BOOKPAGE

"Scottish-born Linklater (Measuring America) delivers a readable story of how borders helped shape America. He refutes Frederick Jackson Turner's famous thesis that the frontier gave us a dislike for direct control and government dependence. Instead, he effectively argues that without literal boundaries, our history would be much more treacherous....This book, addressing little-known history, will appeal to general readers, while students can use it to research the other side of Turner's thesis. Highly recommended for both public and college libraries."Library Journal (starred review)

"Contradicting historian Frederick Jackson Turner's famous "frontier thesis," Linklater (Measuring America, 2002, etc.) claims it was America's borders that shaped our national character...An ingenious premise delivered in lively, accessible prose backed by impressive research."—Kirkus Reviews

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802716729
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Andro Linklater is the author of Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy as well as the Code of Love and several other books. He lives in England.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foresight     1
The First Frontier     17
The Boundaries of Power     37
The State as Nation     53
The Bullying States     72
Capital Speculations     91
Mirrors of the Mississippi     115
Evidence of Treachery     140
The Reach of Government     158
American Tragedy     180
The Values of Government     205
The Limits of Freedom     230
The American Frontier     250
Crossing the Frontier     261
The End of Frontiers?     271
Envoi     278
Appendix     281
Acknowledgments     287
Notes     289
Select Bibliography     309
Index     317
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)