Wilderness at Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent

Overview

This is the biggest, grandest, most sprawling epic ever told, filled with battles and hardship, courage, determination, daring voyages into the unknown, and eye-opening discoveries... From the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of FDR, Winston Churchill, and Somerset Maugham, Wilderness At Dawn is the sprawling, roughhouse epic of the unsung heroes, heroines, and rogues who tamed the rugged continent that became our country. Here is a masterpiece of history, research, and storytelling, the panoramic epic of the ...
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Overview

This is the biggest, grandest, most sprawling epic ever told, filled with battles and hardship, courage, determination, daring voyages into the unknown, and eye-opening discoveries... From the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of FDR, Winston Churchill, and Somerset Maugham, Wilderness At Dawn is the sprawling, roughhouse epic of the unsung heroes, heroines, and rogues who tamed the rugged continent that became our country. Here is a masterpiece of history, research, and storytelling, the panoramic epic of the North American continent and the vast array of characters who thought they could civilize it. Concentrating on those previously ignored by "polite histories" (ordinary settlers, unknown soldiers, scalawags, pioneer women, slaves, and Native Americans), Morgan uses scenes and dialogue from actual letters, journals, and diaries to recreate the odysseys, adventures, human dramas, and inhuman suffering that shaped America. Beginning with prehistoric man's first forays across the Bering Land Bridge, Morgan unfurls a rich tapestry of lost civilizations and Indian accomplishments; ambitious explorers, would-be politicians and transplanted Europeans confronting the wilderness; scrappy newborn towns and dandified plantation societies; great river navigations and catastrophic explorations; the bloody Indian wars and the birth of the American revolution. All are here - the triumphs, tragedies, battles and intrigues from the Ice Age when Early Man roamed an empty continent to the achievement of the all-American dream of "Land for Every Man." Morgan takes us into the world of the lost Anasazi people, where inventive Indians built houses of 500 rooms, veritable "cities of stone" tucked among the canyon walls. He takes us into the lives of the Indians of the Southwest where a shipwrecked Spanish explorer named Cabeza de Vaca became an indentured servant (and later medicine man) to a tribe of Indian fishermen. We see the arrival of the first Jews in North America, the ha
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this ``collective biography of ordinary Americans,'' Morgan ( FDR ) offers an involving, if a bit disjointed, popular history of North America to the end of the 18th century. He draws on memoirs, journals and academic studies for his colloquial, panoramic narrative; his anecdotes mainly eschew the famous for intriguing characters like William Fitzhugh, who in 1674 built a 13-room house, complete with Turkish carpets, on Virginia's ``gentrified'' northern frontier. As Morgan covers the advances of the European powers and the formation of the United States, he does not ignore the many depredations of the powerful. But the French-born author is, above all, an American enthusiast, and he concludes by celebrating the emerging nation's egalitarianism and ``spirit of enterprise.'' Sometimes, however, Morgan's search for relevance--as when he links colonial tobacco propaganda to 20th-century ads for ``Marlboro Country''--seems strained, and he makes few attempts to apprise the reader of ongoing debates about historical interpretation. BOMC main selection; History Book Club and QPB alternates. (May)
Library Journal
Morgan, the biographer of Klaus Barbie ( An Uncertain Hour , LJ 12/89), Franklin Roosevelt ( FDR , LJ 11/1/85), and others, here turns his attention to the settlement of the frontier. Drawing on diaries, journals, letters, and similar sources, he begins with the first people to cross the Bering land bridge about 15,000 years ago, continues with the story of the European settlement of those colonies that played the most significant roles in the struggle among Spain, France, and Britain for control of the continent, and concludes by surveying the Western lands in the decades following the American Revolution. He tells a good story, emphasizing the ordinary people who did the actual settlement, but does not provide the analysis needed by specialists. The account is comprehensive for the years up to 1630. While it gets sidetracked for the period after that, this book is recommended for undergraduate and public libraries as a useful survey of the colonial frontier.-- Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671882372
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/26/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 1.21 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 11
Pt. 1 First Arrivals
I The First Fifteen Thousand Years 18
II The Exploration Fever 47
III The Spanish Presence 71
IV The French Frontier 89
Pt. 2 English Footholds
V The Jamestown Frontier 108
VI The Pilgrim Frontier 133
VII The Dutch Frontier 152
VIII The Puritan Frontier 165
IX Frontiers in Collision 193
Pt. 3 The English Advance and the French Retreat
X The Manorial Frontier 220
XI The Chesapeake Frontier 237
XII The Black Frontier 248
XIII The Salzburger Frontier 265
XIV The Quaker Frontier 276
XV The Hinterland in 1750 297
XVI The Frontier in 1750 308
XVII The French Departure 331
Pt. 4 America for the Americans
XVIII Stars to the Flag 352
XIX The Land Hunger 393
XX The Ohio Company 410
XXI The Creeks Fight Back 438
XXII The Struggle for Statehood 448
XXIII The Land Operation 461
XXIV The Young Nation 481
Acknowledgments 495
Notes 497
Index 515
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