Top critical review
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Not his most engaging writing, but excellent non-the-less
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.