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The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America Hardcover – February 8, 2012


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Frequently Bought Together

The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America + Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York's Frontier + War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier
Price for all three: $48.18

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (February 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151015155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151015153
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The paired terms of frontier and Indian often conjure up images of cavalry troops and eagle-feather-bonneted Sioux or Cheyenne warriors struggling across buffalo-laden plains. As this exciting and revealing chronicle shows, the original frontier was in the East, stretching from the tidewater to the foothills of the Appalachians, and from Maine to Florida. Weidensaul, an author and naturalist, provides a stirring panorama of the land and the peoples who made their mark on it from the late sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The land is described, in detail, as lush and enticing, but it was a lushness that could kill when it turned harsh and violent. Across this landscape, Weidensaul tracks the diverse and complicated mix of humanity who cooperated, fought, and transformed it, including various Huron, Iroquoian, and Algonquian Native American groupings and French-, English-, and German-speaking Europeans. This is a rich tableau that both excites and informs about the forging of early American society. --Jay Freeman

Review

“With a novelist's flair, he conveys the experiences of ordinary people pitted against powerful and unpredictable nature. . . Mr. Weidensaul invites readers to imagine the bloody ground beneath modern America's apparently tame landscape.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Exhaustively researched and entertainingly written. . . Credit Weidensaul with proving once again that history does not have to be dull in order to be comprehensive. It would be difficult to find a work of either fact or fiction more filled with excitement and suspense than The First Frontier.”
—The Seattle Times

“With a novelist's flair, he conveys the experiences of ordinary people pitted against powerful and unpredictable nature. . . Mr. Weidensaul invites readers to imagine the bloody ground beneath modern America's apparently tame landscape.”
—The Wall Street Journal

Customer Reviews

All three books are well written and very easy to read.
Steve Lower
The research here is wonderful and the author presents his story is a crisp manner which is quite readable.
D. Blankenship
This book first looks at the early settlement by Native Americans and the arrival of Europeans.
James W. Durney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Harold M. TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very well-written, highly readable, and very informative book. The author is a very skillful writer who makes many different, complex, subjects come alive. The book is mostly narrative in form and is far from dry history. The book is part anthropology, part sociology, part geology, and part (the largest part) history. It book discusses the earliest interactions between the American Indians and the colonizers from Europe, and also discuses the conflicts between various Indian tribes, between the English, French and Spanish colonies, and between different groups within each colony.

The first part of the book deals with the question of how the original settlers, the Indians, came to the new world. It describes the newest evidence that challenges the view that they all came across on a land bridge from Asia. It also challenges the idea that Columbus was the first European to reach the New World and that the colonies in the Southern part of the US and in the Caribbean were the first places where the significant interactions between Europeans and Indians took place. The book supports the idea that the Portuguese were fishing for Cod and drying them on the shores of North America long before the first Spanish and English colonies were established. The first part of the book contains a lot of geology and anthropology, as well as history and it was my favorite part of the book.

The next two sections deal with the interactions between the colonies and the Indians, as well as inter-colony and inter-tribal conflicts. A reader should be forewarned that much of this material is disturbing, involving murder, rape and torture. The first of these two parts deals with the Southern Frontier and the second with the Northern Frontier.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Scott Weidensaul takes us back to the true frontier, The First Frontier, where lands east of the Hudson and Delaware were hotly contested for two centuries before the American Revolution. People who laid claim to the eastern seaboard came with ambiguous motives from unimaginably different cultures and lands. Although cohabiting the land, they communicated poorly and remained estranged. This peerlessly researched book opens our eyes to a violent time in the history of America of which most of us are uninformed. One would think that as time went by, civil co-habitation would occur, but the author tells us, "Far from being a cordial melting pot, the frontier was becoming an increasingly fractious mishmash."

Part One entrenches us in the various cultures of these early inhabitants of eastern America. Part Two describes the 17th century expansion of the American colonies around Chesapeake Bay and New England, resulting in hatred, fear and bloodshed. Part Three is the story of the farther frontier, the Pennsylvania backcountry, where today a marker proclaiming the site of the first Amish settlement reminds us of the ghosts of that time.

Interesting details from the book include:

- 90% of America's native people lost their lives from foreign disease not long after European colonists arrived.

- A white woman released from Native American captivity returned home to write the first American bestseller. Mary Rowlandson was the first female writer to publish in North America.

- Brickmaker, Thomas Duston, had to choose between saving his bedridden wife or his children from the Indians.

- Commercial slave trading boomed on both sides in the 1700s.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Lefand VINE VOICE on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
History should be written so a reader can gain knowledge of the realities that shaped the lives of the men and women in past societies. In "The First Frontier" this was achieved by Scott Weidensaul's presentation of the rich diversity of cultures, Native Americans and early Europeans, and their interactions on the eastern portion of North America in an informative and understandable way.

Being a resident of New Jersey and having traveled many times to Texas and New Mexico I found Weidensaul statement in his introduction "In the West, the frontier still seems close to the surface" indisputably true. Here on the eastern seaboard one can find and visit many historical sites that mainly deal with the Revolution and the Civil War that overshadow the struggle of the cultures that clashed in early America. In the western states much of the culture, architect (Mesa Verde, etc), and descendants are quite visible.

Weidensaul brilliantly chronicles the heroes and villains of both sides as their interactions at times results in horrific bloody conflict. Also, Weidensaul describes the sometimes peaceful and many times greedy motives and desires of the Spanish, English, Dutch and French in the early years of contact before expansion and settlement pressures promoted unfair dealings with Native Americans.

In addition, Weidensaul describes how Native American tribes and confederations sought to take advantage of the Europeans coming to their shores. They sought alliances to help them with the never ending conflicts they had with one another. Many of the items they sought as they traded animal pelts and food to acquire, such as metal knives, hatchets and muskets would be used against the colonists.
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