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on September 26, 2001
By far the best and most engaging chronicle of the border wars of the Ohio River Valley, Dark and Bloody River takes us back to the time and place first encountered in Eckert's other great book, The Frontiersmen. This was the first Eckert novel I read and it hooked me from the start. It begins with a description of the ancient Indians to first settle the land that would later become known to some as Kentucky and the Ohio Valley, and to others as "That Dark and Bloody Ground". It ends with the closing of the eastern frontier in Ohio in the early 19th century and the twilight of the Indian way of life. What comes in between is a classic tale of historic adventure and horror. Eckert is known for his great historical novels and this is one of the best. Here we again encounter some familiar characters like Daniel Boone, Simon kenton, and Simon Girty. Eckert gives one of the most sympathetic interpretations of the white renegade Girty to date, portraying him here as a troubled frontiersman who was more a victim of years of character assasination than the satanic monster he was remembered as. Here we also meet Lewis Wetzel and Eckert makes clear that Wetzel, though hailed as a frontier hero in his time and for decades to come, was most surely a cold-hearted killer, intent upon exterminating the Indian race from the face of North America. This is really a great book and despite being some 600 pages, has often been reread.
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on June 10, 2005
I am an unabashed fan of Allen W. Eckert so if you seek an impartial review, best mosey on. This is one terrific book, possibly his very best.

Focusing on the first serious push west of the Appalachian Mountains and down the Ohio River by colonials after the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1764, the book details the continuing settlement efforts through the Revolutionary War and on to the early 1800's.

As in any migration in US history, this one was seriously contested in a most deadly manner. Literally, thousands upon thousands of people were scalped, butchered, skinned alive, impaled on stakes and tortured in the most unbelievably sadistic manner. There are no nice guys here. Both sides, the early American colonists and subsequent American citizens as protagonists and the Native Americans and their subsequent British allies, mounted military campaigns, patrols, ambuscades and battles that are quite shocking in their intensity and deadly intent. Even more stunning by today's standards, both sides paid for scalps. No sweetheart contest here, Eckert details a long, 30 + year bloody campaign, fought with ingenuity and hate. It is a continuous campaign fought over fur and land and Eckert puts you smack in the middle of it.

This fine book chronicles the major western migration route which settled and wrested control of the Trans Appalachian territory from Britain, France and Spain. It helped me understand, for the first time, just how serious the threat was of the possible separation of the Trans Appalachian west from the eastern seaboard comprising the original 13 States. By 1800 1 milliom people, 20% of our population, lived west of the Applachians. Easterners were totally unsympathetic to the plight of their fellow over-the-mountain citizens and were totally unconcerned with the butchery continually faced by the Westerners. When the East finally woke up to the seriousness of the situation and understood that the territorial gains secured by the Revolutionary War were at stake, the response was nothing less than the permanent establishment of the United States Army!

This is an awesome and successful literary undertaking which examines in detail the Nation's very first steps at what would, in later generations, become known as Manifest Destiny. You will not be disappointed.
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on October 27, 2002
This is an excellent history of the Ohio River Valley during the time period covered. However, this book is written more along the lines of a typical history book than his "Winning of America" series (The Frontiermens, Wilderness Empire, etc.) That isn't bad, it just means that it is less of the narrative style than one is used to in Eckert's books. Also, I found some of the events and happenings covered in this book to be more engaging in his other books. Eckert mentions in his introduction that he didn't want to just repeat things in this book that he had already covered in other books, but I think this is a "stand alone" book and he should have used all his best stuff for this book instead of worring about repeating what he wrote in his other books. In any case, this is an excellent book that keeps one interested; it just doesn't have as much of the "being part of the action" that is displayed in some of his other writings. With this book one is more of the outsider looking in on history instead of being involved in it; although it is still better written that most books concerning history. Also, there are a few instances of possible errors of history. For example, concerning Braddock's defeat at the Monongahela in 1755, Eckert states that Braddock was shot purposely by one of his own men. I can't think of any other historian who has no doubt on that matter. While it can not be proven that he wasn't shot by one of his own men, there is also not concrete evidence that he was. In fact, most evidence points to the opposite. Eckert, however, states it as fact. Every other historian seems to believe it not to be true, or at the most, doubtful. Eckert should have pointed this out. Also, dealing with the same battle, Eckert claims that the great Indian leader Pontiac was present. Now, there is no concrete proof that he wasn't, there also is not concrete proof that he was. So why state it as a fact? Or for another example, Eckert states that Blue Jacket, another great Indian leader was a white, captured as a boy and raised by the Indians. This is apparently not true either, as proven by DNA testing of the family's descendents involved. So why state that as a truth, when it really doesn't matter as far as Blue Jacket's activities in history are concerned? In any case, Eckert's possible errors are of the minor nature and do not distract one from the generally excellent writing and history telling; it just makes one wonder what else Eckert may be in error about. In the end, however, I don't think there is any other book concerning this area and time period that is better. Were is not for the possible historical errors, I would have given it a 4 or 5.
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VINE VOICEon August 30, 2000
Nobody else writes history quite like Eckert; like the rest of his works, this can be read as easily as a novel, but is thoroughly researched and based on the most solid scholarship imaginable.
The sheer volume of incidents can be almost numbing, to watch time after time after time as the guilty and the innocent, the young and the old, die bloody, brutal deaths. But the cumulative effect is to show just how harsh and difficult life in the late 1700's could be. On that emotional level, this book is not unlike the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
Much of the events of this novel take place right in my own neighborhood, and it's stirring to realize how tough life was here at one time. We don't ordinarily associate Pittsburgh, PA or Wheeling, WV with tough frontier life, yet here they are.
Eckert remains for the most part very even-handed and unafraid to show these people in their complexity-- heroic on one occasion, venal and nasty on another. This is living, breathing history. Highly recommended.
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on June 10, 2004
I have read this twice and have started it for the third time. I have read all of the Winning of America Series twice. I find myself switching back and forth to the maps.
My father took me to see the Fallen Timbers during WW II. So I would have been about two years old. I just remember his describing the battle and the fact that most of the fallen trees or "timbers" were taller than I was laying on their sides. It was very still except for the birds, the locusts and my Father's voice. In retrospect it was a special and spiritual moment.
As it turns out my dark father was 1/16 Native American (Elizabeth Weddell from Hawkins Co., Tennessee) only we didn't know it at the time.
This book made the history of all my families come alive; some fought in the Revolution, one with the Royal Americans, one at Ft. Pitt and one at Germantown & Brandywine. Some ended up buying hundreds of acres of land at Chillicothe,OH., KY. and Indiana.
Reading these books and in particular this one, puts me right in the middle of the action and family history.
I am from Indiana via Southern Indiana, via KY., NC., VA., OH. and PA. These books, especially this one and The Frontiersman, are my favorites. Mr. Eckhert makes history live. Thanks.
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on July 9, 2015
Very well written and documented. I do not find his writing style of adding dimension to the characters to be a detraction, rather it adds context otherwise lacking in pure historical works. And I would say it is apparent that this author has walked many of the sites he describes, making his accounts and details all the more insightful and interesting for the reader.
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on April 21, 1999
This is the second of Mr. Eckert's books that I have read. This is just as compelling as the frist. I would advise readers of American histroy to avoid his books if you plan on just picking up one. This one in particular deeply describes the settelments around the Ohio river, and shows all of the historical figures wee know. But more importantly it shows the supporting cast, which is just as impornant as Boone, Washington and others of the day. My advice if you purchase this book, if you do not (or have not) lived in or around the Ohio. Get a good map of the area. He points out specific places with todays landmarks. INCREDIBALLY WELL RESEARCHED.
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on April 11, 1999
This book is an excellent resource for the historian, geneologist of PA, WV, VA, and OH for the years included in the book. The book is aptly named and chronicles how life along the Ohio river depended upon the skills of the woodsmen of that era, the organization of local forts, militias and communities to aid one another, and of course, a little luck. It truly was a bloody time that can not be totally understood in todays world.
It was a fascinating book which I had difficulty putting down. On several occasions, it was 2 or 3 in the morning before I could finally set it down and get to sleep. I have now added a new dimension to my search for my ancestors: I wish to read other books by Exkert to learn more about the life and times of our American ancestors. A must read for anyone interested in the colonial and revolutionary period of time.
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on July 6, 2015
Living in the area that Alan Eckert is writing about, this was a wonderful read. He is very accurate in his research. It was very interesting to take his footnotes and find the exact places where the fort in Wheeling, WV stood or to travel south to Moundsville through the Narrows where
a party was attacked by Indians from Ohio. I live in St. Clairsville, Ohio, and I can see where Lew Wetzel encountered Indians and fought them off by being able to reload his rifle while running. This book is educational but written in such a way that it is also entertaining. Read it and then come and visit the site of McCulloch's leap in Wheeling.
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on October 27, 2003
This is a relatively detailed account of the history of white settlement and conflict along the Ohio River drainage given in the form of a journal. A dated account, it draws together moments in the lives of natives, settlers and government officials as affected the area in question. Well written, engaging, detailed, with good footnotes and bibiliography. An excellent book worthy of space in any library and a necessity for those interested in this period.
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