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The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction Paperback – April 12, 1988


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The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction + The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 + Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394757793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394757797
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bailyn, prize-winning Harvard historian (Pulitzer, Bancroft, National Book Award), is writing a multivolume interpretive history of the transatlantic movement of people from Europe to America between 1500 and the Industrial Revolution. This volume, which introduces the series, will be followed by Voyages to the West announced for publication in the fall. Despite the outpouring of specialized studies, Bailyn notes, the transatlantic movement of some 50 million people remains a blur, a story without structure and scale. He shows how the findings of diverse scholars will be brought together in his series by following several lines of interpretation: that migration was an extension of European domestic mobility; led to the creation of widely varying American urban settlements; and (fired by labor needs and land speculation) gave rise by the early 18th century to an America that was a "ragged outer margin" of British culture. These themes whet appetites for what promises to be an important series.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Mr. Bailyn brings a new vividness, authenticity and excitement to the story of the settlement of North America....He sees the past in a more lively and human fashion, and in sharper detail, than have most previous historians....This is a rich canvas of a great folk-wandering over two centuries .... If the Introduction is any guide to what is to follow, the volumes to come will be treasure houses indeed."

-- Esmond Wright, The New York Times Book Review

"With a spare and delicate genius, [Bailyn] sketch[es] out the fiendishly complex essentials of a world where 'everything seems strange close up.'... Bernard Bailyn's work has the grandeur of a Braudel and the humanity of a Michelet. And he's got to the roots."

-- Gwyn A. Williams, The Guardian

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Historian on January 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Peopling of British North America: An Introduction.
Surely one of the most important studies of the vast movement of immigrants to the New World is Bernard Bailyn's The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction. In a nuanced thesis regarding the motivations for promoting movement of large numbers of people to the American wilderness, he also shows how long-held traditions with regard to land ownership and tenantry were transformed in America, due largely to the new environment. Bailyn argues that after the "initial phase of colonization, the major stimuli to population recruitment and settlement were...the continuing need for labor, and...land speculation." The land speculation of the 17th and 18th centuries, Bailyn argues, "shaped a relationship between the [land] owners and the workers of the land different from that which prevailed in Europe." (60) Bailyn writes that land speculation was common in America among all classes of men, "a major preoccupation of ambitious people...launched as a universal business." (67) But with all of this pervasive land accumulation came an indispensable caveat; speculators needed settlers to populate the land they claimed, so that an owner could rent or sell his property. "Land speculation was, and remained, boundless, ubiquitous," (74) writes Bailyn, who goes on to describe the various schemes and methods speculators used "to people the land they claimed." (69) Yet as Bailyn points also out, long-held, customary tenancy relationships that British landowners were used to were not adaptable to America. Instead, new methods were needed to attract settlers and clear the land, so that property in the trackless wilderness would become useable, and as a result, valuable.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on March 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a brief introduction to Bailyn's highly regarded "Voyagers to the West". The book is, as it states, a serious of transcribed lectures that Bailyn delivered to college undergrads. You can tell that these are lectures, but Bailyn has provided ample footnoting at the back of the book.

Understand that this is a short book. It should only take about a couple of hours (maybe less) to read. "Voyagers to the West" runs about 800 pgs, so you'd probably want to read this before that, just to make sure this is what you are interested in.

Bailyn uses four "propositions" to frame the themes of his lectures. The propositions boil down to the idea that the received wisdom we have about the peopling of the British colonies in America is wrong and that the process was more complex then we thought. I would refer those unfamiliar with this approach (that of framing "propostions" for historical inquiry), to the work of the Annales school in France (Marc Bloch, Phillipe Aries, etc).

Fans of David Hackett Fischer's "Albion's Seed" will want to check this one out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By hmf22 on March 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's unusual for an academic history book to be spellbinding, but this one is. Bailyn's slim, elegant volume contains three lectures (originally given at the University of Wisconsin and in other venues) on immigration and demography in early America. Bailyn argues that immigration from Europe to North America is best understood as an extension of the pre-existing patterns of local and long-distance migration within medieval and early modern Europe. In the final lecture, "A Domesday Book for the Periphery," Bailyn further argues that the diverse and disorderly culture of early America is best understood as a "marchland" (112) of European civilization. The lectures are studded with intriguing data and specific, moving examples. If you want to do in-depth research on this topic, you will need to read Bailyn's longer work, Voyagers to the West, but the ample footnotes in this volume will be enough to get you started on further reading. Truly a classic in the field.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Geisler on November 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I selected this book because I am interested in finding out what made individuals start to come to the "new world." Why would someone make such a move? In this, and other works by the same author, the reader is introduced to numerous risk takers, men without fame, who took a plunge into the unknown. I think what impressed me most was the amount of violence many of these people encountered. Whether it was battles between competitors over land, between themselves and Indians, or with the obstinate land they worked to tame. This was no easy, quickly accomplished task. When we think about how much we rely on schedules and communication, efficient transportation, handy food supply, and warm housing, it is obvious that these were not available and that getting people here to settle and sustain themselves was not easily accomplished. This author presents these challenges well.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction written by Bernard Bailyn is a book that has three major essays about how North America was settled. These essays are: Worlds in Motion, The Rings of Saturn and A Domesday Book for the Periphery.

In these essays the author brings a new vividness and authenticity to the story of the settlement of North America as the Old World transfers people to the New World... we see a basis for an American society beginning to form... later a British migration solidifies a central theme where people wanted to control their own destiny.

The book is well-written and is documented giving the reader sharp detail. I found the book to be not only educational, but enlightening.
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