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The only genuine problem with this excellent book is that it does not compare favorably with some of the other books in this series. For instance, if one turns to this after reading Schlereth's amazing VICTORIAN AMERICA, one is scaled down the book seems in comparison. This is not the fault of author David Hawke. The problem is the paucity of details in everyday life in 17th century America compared to the late 19th. Unfortunately for Hawke, the life of Americans in the 17th century was rudimentary and, of necessity, simple. What makes VICTORIAN AMERICA such a delight is the almost overwhelmingly amount of delicious detail.
Nonetheless, life in 17th century colonial America is apt to be less familiar to most readers than that of late 19th century America, and this book performs an enormous service in providing a concise, well-written overview of what that life was like. Hawke is especially good at exploding various myths that have evolved over the years concerning colonial life. Unlike the later volumes in the series, Hawke deals, by dint of necessity, of the larger historical situation.
Some of the topics that Hawke takes up include the structure of towns and villages, the nature of farms and the crops grown, houses and the types of objects found within them, the health of the settlers and treatment of illness, social stratification, indentured servitude and slavery, relations with Native Americans, and various superstitions. If the book was somewhat less exhilarating than some of the later books in the series, it nonetheless is quite informative. I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to learn more about the nuts and bolts of colonial life.
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VINE VOICEon January 31, 2000
This is a good book that I found suprisingly detailed with pertinant facts that gave me a better understanding of the culture, religion, family beliefs and social way of life in early Colonial America between 1500 to 1750 (before the Revolutionary War). The author does an excellent job in emphasizing the importance of the different Christian religious sects in the colonies and how importantly they influenced the personal and social structure in colonial life. Life on the farm, in the town or villiage is studied as well as the important tools, crafts, clothing that were used. Not only is the influence of England stated in this work but that of Holland and other European powers of the time mentioned as well. This is a great book to get to understand what society and indvidual lives were like prior to the American Revolution. Overall a very interesting read!
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on May 13, 2000
One of my hobbies is recreating colonial life. I am a historical reenactor, and part of my passion for the hobby is recreating the lifestyle lived long ago as closely as possible. This book helped me immensely. I was able to understand how women especially passed their time and to pick up ways in which to create my character to her greatest potential. So many times while reading books about colonial Americans, women are virtually left out - I know they did something - but what was that something? This book helped me understand what their daily lives were all about.
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on July 21, 2002
This book is a must for anyone who wants to achieve a greater understanding of day-to-day life in 17th century America with a few hours of enjoyable reading. Hawke largely avoids the in-depth treatment of weightier political, social, and religious issues that bog down most such histories, and instead focuses on giving the reader a palpable impression of what it was like simply to be alive. It's not all farm implements and spinning wheels, either. The author skillfully uses anecdotes to covey the impact of bigger issues like industry and economics, transportation, warfare, morals and manners, etc. Excellent!
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on July 1, 2000
I read this book during my sophomore year of college, and it has forever stayed in my memory as the most entertaining history book I've ever read. What's so wonderful is that its concern is the texture of everyday life (duh! :=), rather than dates and names. Truly interesting.
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on February 3, 2001
This is a great book for the ordinary reader who would enjoy a chance to learn a bit more about the history of our country. With 176 pages of written text, it can't provide an extremely in- depth description of colonial life, but it does give an excellent overview of the 17th century in America with a surprising amount of detail. The writing style is engaging and not at all difficult, so the book is easy to finish off in a few days. I would recommend it!
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on January 15, 2014
How towns formed, what determined their layouts, simplest forms of local government, how people earned a living, lack of conservation measures, protection from Indians, formation of lodges, influence of the church on everyday life- all are discussed and connections made tour modern way of life. The building of our earliest homes, how rooms were arranged, what was in the rooms, and in general how people lived their day to day lives are discussed. Very interesting and informative.
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on November 22, 2009
I read this book after reading The Reshaping of Everyday Life: 1790-1840 (Everyday Life in America) and Home Life in Colonial Days. All the books had a little over-lap but each book had slightly different focus, information and detail. I enjoyed this book very much; the chapters are as follows:

O Strange New World > Who came and Why They Came - What They Brought With Them - What They Found

Settling In
The Farm
The House
The Home
Health
The Rhythms of Life
Manners and Morals
Red, White and Black
War
Beyond the Farm
Wonders of the Invisible World
Toward the Eighteenth Century

This book has a lot of super quotes - it was very thesis-like in that the introduction had 2 quotes, one from The Waning of the Middle Ages and the other from In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life and then the author's final paragraph from the introduction really set the tone for the book:

"Although relics from the past do survive, the everyday life of seventeenth-century Americans differed drastically from ours. As Fernand Braudel, like Deetz, reminds us to comprehend it we must 'strip ourselves in imagination of all the surroundings of our own lives.' The journey backward, he adds 'is a journey to another planet, another human universe."

And this author really hits a home run showing how different life was and giving us a full understanding of the frame of mind of people then, and what was going on in history and around them and all that created them; a super dramaturgy of the times.
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on February 20, 2007
Not only is Hawke's book informative and concise, this book is "a good read." Many books examining an early time in a place often turn out to read like lists (if they're short) or textbooks (if they're long). Great for the first-time student, a comfort read for the layman, and a great reference with many nuggets of information that could be new (or examined differently)for the scholar of Early Colonial America. A rare book that really does have something for everybody.
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VINE VOICEon July 25, 2015
I'd already had the post-Revolution and Victorian books in the "Everyday Life" series, and just bought the Westward Expansion/Civil War volume, so decided to buy the other two books in the series. This, the first, is, sadly, a bit tedious, and that's a shame, because there are facts here I'd never read anywhere else, such as that the Pilgrims had little experience in farming; or how the amount of land a colonist had in different parts of the country determined what type of fence you would build (incidentally, "good fences make good neighbors" was a truism: if you did not have your crops properly fenced in and cattle ate them, it was your fault, not the owner of the cattle). There is a continual emphasis on the colonists' use of wood from the plentiful forests, England having nearly been deforested by that time by the regular need for wood. One of the interesting points of discussion is how the traditions of English life changed, for instance, that in England farmers lived in the village and walked to their fields every day; once in the United States they moved their homes to their fields. It's a good summary of colonial life, but rather dry. I'm glad to have it to complete the set, though.
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