A Scattered People: An American Family Moves West

Overview

This remarkable, innovative book portrays one of the great American experiences in microcosm. Gerald McFarland tells the story of U.S. westward expansion through the stories of his own ancestors—from their arrival in Massachusetts in 1630, through successive generations that moved west, at length reaching the West Coast in 1900. "A Scattered People enriches the literature and reminds readers that most early Americans lived as the Hardemans and the Adairs and the Browns lived. This is the real American ...

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A Scattered People

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Overview

This remarkable, innovative book portrays one of the great American experiences in microcosm. Gerald McFarland tells the story of U.S. westward expansion through the stories of his own ancestors—from their arrival in Massachusetts in 1630, through successive generations that moved west, at length reaching the West Coast in 1900. "A Scattered People enriches the literature and reminds readers that most early Americans lived as the Hardemans and the Adairs and the Browns lived. This is the real American history."—Choice. "The evocation of historical event through the microcosm of the individual life is moving....In these histories of ordinary men and women, McFarland discovers that 'few [Americans] actually rose from rags to riches.'"—Journal of American History. "Except for John Brown, who was a half brother of Mr. McFarland's great-great-grandmother, the people in this history are not famous, but, through the author's meticulous research, every one of them comes to life."—New Yorker. "Full of fascinating historical detail. It is especially valuable for the insight it provides into the way ordinary Americans of the 19th century experienced and confronted the issues and concerns of their time."—Library Journal.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of American History
Moving...this is the evocation of an historical event through the microcosm of the individual life.
Choice
This is the real American history.
New Yorker
The people in this history are not famous, but through the author's meticulous research, every one of them comes to life.
Journal of American History
Moving...this is the evocation of an historical event through the microcosm of the individual life.
CHOICE
This is the real American history.
The New Yorker
The people in this history are not famous, but through the author's meticulous research, every one of them comes to life.
Choice
This is the real American history.
Washington Post Book World
Pays affecting tribute to all who went West in search of the dream.
New Yorker
The people in this…are not famous, but through the author’s meticulous research, every one of them comes to life.
Choice
This is the real American history.
Journal of American History
Moving...this is the evocation of an historical event through the microcosm of the individual life.
Library Journal
Fascinating...Especially valuable for its insights into the way ordinary Americans confronted issues and concerns in their time.
Washington Post Book World
Pays affecting tribute to all who went West in search of the dream.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This extended familial autobiography follows five generations as they drift increasingly westward, representing on a small scale the movement of the American people. According to PW , McFarland ``is aided in the project by his graceful, fluid writing and his careful scholarship.'' (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this well-written volume, McFarland follows the descendants of five colonial families as they meet and marry, sharing ``dreams of purity or dreams of plenty'' while slowly but steadily pushing towards California. Their stories are typical of countless families who traveled west during the 1800s, seeking to do God's work and find their fortune. More frequently, they found disappointment and hardship. This is a thoroughly researched, objective work, full of fascinating historical detail. It is especially valuable for the insight it provides into the way ordinary Americans of the 19th century experienced and confronted the issues and concerns of their time. Recommended. Frank Schroth, Technology Training Assocs., Cambridge, Mass.
Booknews
The Pantheon Books edition of 1985 reprinted without change. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566632973
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald McFarland is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has also written The “Counterfeit” Man: The True Story of the Boorn-Colvin Murder Case and Mugwumps, Morals and Politics, 1884-1920.

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