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Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199766239
ISBN-10: 0199766231
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Alan Taylor is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is the two time Pulitzer prize winning author of William Cooper's Town: Power and The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832. He has also written Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic and The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies.
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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199766231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199766239
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent alternative to reading the first few chapters of a survey of US History. Not a substitute for reading Taylor's classic American Colonies, but a cogently organized, well-written summary of what the last generation of historians has taught us about the European colonization of the Northern half of the Western Hemisphere (with a little on the Pacific Islands as a bonus). The chronology and bibliographic essay at the end are a welcome feature. Can be read in two or three hours tops. Makes me interested in sampling the rest of the Very Short Introduction series.
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Format: Paperback
This is a gem of a book. In a very short space the author covers 300 years of American colonial history putting each phase into perspective. He explains the objectives and strategies of each of the colonial powers - Spain, France and England showing the strengths weaknesses of each. In the end this leads to an understanding of why the British became the dominant power and why the British in turn lost their colonies to the Americans. Caught between
them were the Indians who both used the colonizers and were used by them. Above all he explains important economic and technological forces that underlie the making of history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is as good as it gets when it comes to "short" history. Taylor is succinct without being abstract. This short volume of early American history is highly readable, serious, and informative. It gives a precise overview of colonial history, highlighting causal links to important developments. It is well organized and up-to-date in its research and bibliography: A great way to start learning about this topic or, as in my case, to review and update my knowledge of this historical epoch. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little book is concise but complete. A good initial resource for anyone who wants an overview of the settlement of America by the Spanish, French and English. Each came to America at a different time, a different place and used different method. This is an excellent resource. It encouraged me to get other "short introduction" books.
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By PZ on February 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written. A little dense, but you get used to it. The author is actually my professor in high school so I can say, firsthand, that he is very knowledgeable about the subject matter. The book is a bit vague at times, but it is only meant to scratch the surface of colonial America. Overall, would recommend
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Approximately 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, Indians crossed the land bridge from Asia into North America, spreading to the very tip of South America. By the time the Spanish arrived, thriving Native American cultures, in many ways superior to European cultures, had been civilized for more than a millennium. In the 130 years from Columbus' dropping anchor in the Bahamas in 1492, to the settlement of Jamestown and Plymouth, the geopolitics of the North American continent were already quite advanced and very complex. Perhaps with the exception of Europe after the fall of Rome, arguably, there has never been a more complex geopolitical environment anywhere in the history of the world than that which took place on the North American continent during the 130 years before the "so-called" American Revolution. In 140 pages, Alan Taylor gives us a nuanced summary of those geopolitics -- from the arrival of the Spanish, through the era of the American Revolution.

It is a heady and an enlightening dose of unvarnished history for a people normally "force-fed," from elementary school onwards, a steady diet of patriotically skewed chest-beating "near-history," mostly justificatory narratives, in which the moral context, and the geopolitics of north America, are purposefully "severely cropped," if not entirely "air-brushed out," in favor of a tidy, and often misleading, but always heroic origin story about how America's mostly rich, always morally-challenged, slaveholding "English wannabe" founding fathers, civilized the "New World.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A concise but thorough introduction. It does a particularly good job of highlighting the importance of a variety of groups of Native Americans in determining the outcome of disputes among the European powers. It pays a good amount of attention to non-English colonization of the North American continent and to the importance of the colonies in the Caribbean. I highly recommend it for teachers of the U.S. History survey and their students.

Carl Schulkin
retired teacher
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this shortened version of Alan Taylor's larger text. It was pretty easy to follow, not too dry. I would recommend this to someone who would like a brief refresher course of Colonial America, and it would also be a good resource for AP US high school students as a summer assignment.
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