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Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York's Frontier Paperback – January 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Bloody Mohawk offers an enjoyable and readable run through the history of the Mohawk River Valley, embroiling the French and British empires, the Iroquois Federation and various American settlers ranging from Dutch fur-traders to German farmers to New England's evangelicals. I love the way Berleth balances a mighty landscape against equally compelling characters. Constant warfare made this strategic waterway a scary place for much of the 18th century, a terror spread over a landscape of rivers, lakes and portages long obscured by modern development. Berleth's keen sense of geography makes readers want to get out their bicycles, canoes and walking boots to explore the physical terrain he animates with historical figures that show the power of dueling empires and organized Native Americans. --Kathleen Hulser, Public Historian, Senior Curator of History, New-York Historical Society

Richard Berleth creates an exceptional narrative here that is forever driven by the unique geography of the Mohawk Valley, as well as by the people who settled there from the powerful Iroquois, to avaricious European fur traders, to the colonials who fought in and ultimately won a series of devastating eighteenth-century wars. --Robert Weibel, New York State Historian & Chief Curator New York State Museum

From the Inside Flap

This sweeping historical narrative chronicles events instrumental in the painful birth of a new nationfrom the Bloody Morning Scout and the massacre at Fort William Henry to the disastrous siege of Quebec, the heroic but lopsided Battle of Valcour Island, the horrors of Oriskany, and the tragedies of Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley massacre and the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition's destruction of the Iroquois homeland in western New York State. Caught in the middle of it all was the Mohawk River Valley.

Berleth explores the relationship of early settlers on the Mohawk frontier to the Iroquoian people who made their homes beside the great river. He introduces colonists and native leaders in all their diversity of culture and belief. Dramatic profiles of key participants provide perspectives through which contemporaries struggled to understand events. Sir William Johnson is here first as a shopkeeper, then as a brother Mohawk and militia leader, and lastly as a crown official charged with supervising North American Indian affairs. We meet the frontier ambassador Conrad Weiser, survivor of the Palatine immigration, who agreed not at all with Johnson or his party. And we encounter the young missionary, Samuel Kirkland, as he leaves Johnson's household for a fateful sojourn among the Senecas.

Johnson's heirs did much to precipitate the outbreak of violent hostilities along the Mohawk in the first months of the War of Independence. Berleth shows how the Johnson family sought to save their patrimony in the valley just as patriot forces maneuvered to win Native American support. When Joseph Brant rushed Native Americans to war behind the British, it fell to General Philip Schuyler, wealthy scion of an old Albany family, to find a way to protect the Mohawk region from British incursion. His invasion of Canada fails; his tattered army fights at Valcour Island, Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, retreating steadily. Not until on the line of the Mohawk was the enemy stopped.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dome Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883789664
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883789664
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas M. Sullivan on June 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is understandable that many `serious' readers of History are put off their feed by an author's reliance, acknowledged or not, on secondary sources. Few things are more disappointing to a buff than to buy a book, look forward to cracking it, and then, upon doing so, experiencing that creeping `been here, done that' realization. The best example of this phenomenon that readily comes to this reader's mind is Winston Groom's "A Storm in Flanders" which, however well-intentioned and admittedly of value to neophytes, offers nothing new to the serious WW I reader. The flip side of this phenomenon, of course, is that such a compendium (if that's not too grudging a word) can be very worthwhile if the author is able to reassemble the threads of what has been written before and weave them into a meaningful and compelling narrative.

Richard Berleth has done so brilliantly in "Bloody Mohawk." Author Berleth sets out to tell the story of the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars as conducted and experienced in New York's Mohawk Valley with a singularity of purpose and geographic fidelity that I believe would be warmly applauded by the authors he unabashedly borrows from. Having been born in Schenectady, now living in Lake George, and having made it my business over the last few decades to read all the histories I could find of these wars as conducted and experienced in Central New York, I think I'm in a reasonably good position to judge his effort, and I find it first-rate.

Berleth holds an English lit Ph.D., and it shows. He can spin a yarn with the best of them, but there's much more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Mohawk River Valley is the only significant, natural passage through the 2,000 mile long Appalachian Mountains. For over 200 years, the Iroquois League controlled this strategic thoroughfare, and thus all trade with the interior of the continent as far west as the Mississippi River. European settlement came after the close of Queen Anne's War when Britain encouraged Germans from the Palatinate to begin settling in the valley after 1713. The first English settlers came in 1738 under William Johnston, the man who would ultimately destroy the Iroquois League during the French and Indian War. It was Johnson who would contend with the Dutch inhabitants at Albany as events led up to the American Revolution.

Three different wars in the course of 200 years left their mark on this critical passage. French, English, American and Native Americans would make this strategic corridor the most heavily contested real estate on the North American continent. The most savage Native American battles were fought here, with massacres making Custer's Last Stand looking like child's play. Through the Mohawk and the Lake Champlain valleys Britain would defeat France during the French and Indian War. During the American Revolution more men died in the little known Battle of Oriskany than in any other battle, including Saratoga, Yorktown and Bunker Hill. The carnage was simply appalling. In the end, thousands of Loyalists, including the remaining Iroquois, were uprooted and driven into Canada, never to return. And only 40 years later, the completion of the Erie Canal would forever change trading patterns on the North American Continent making New York City the preeminent mercantile center of our Nation and, ultimately, of the world.
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Format: Paperback
I live in New York Mills, the heart of the Mohawk Valley, only five or six miles from Oriskany; just down the valley from Johnson Hall, near the Oneida Indian Territory, ten miles or so from Fort Stanwix, etc. Indeed, I picked this book up on a visit to Fort Stanwix in Rome, while taking some friends there. I didn't expect to learn much, but boy was I mistaken. This is an excellent book, what one would call a page-turner. I even took it into restaurants to read while I was eating! It grabs the attention from page one, and keeps it going until the end. Oddly enough, even though I live and went to school in the area, much of the history of the French and Indian War and the Revolution pertained to Saratoga, the battles around New York, White Plains, and so on. It was interesting to learn something new. This book obviously took a great deal of research. Take it from someone who lives in the middle of the Mohawk Valley, this is a fine read, especially if you live in the area or are familiar who Schoharie, Herkimer, Oriskany, Schuyler and the surrounding country where all these events took place.
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Picking up this book i wasn't sure what to think. I was intrigued by the topic but I normally have trouble getting motivation to read any book. Upon reading it I was immediatly hooked. This book is incredibly informative, and this is coming from someone who has read about the revolution, the iroquois and the history of new york state over the coarse of several years. it opened my eyes to the true history of the mohawk valley in such a way that left me begging for more. this book was also incredibly interesting, even exciting, something that no history book before or after has managed to do. The detail in the history mixed with the exceptional writing style has made this one of the greatest and most informative books i personally have ever read. I think this book could and should make this into a movie, it is that amazing. i recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a part of history that has been incorrectly lost in time.
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