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A Shovel of Stars: The Making of the American West, 1800 to the Present Hardcover – April 6, 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to Wilderness at Dawn, which chronicled the settling of the U.S. and the making of the first 13 states, Morgan continues his history from below, offering engaging sketches and anecdotes about ordinary folk in the remaining 37 states. Warning: the subtitle misleads; in each chapter, Morgan concludes with the establishment of a state; thus only the Alaska chapter touches on the present. Moreover, no chapter is close to comprehensive, nor does the book engage in any debates about our history. Given that, this is a good complement to conventional histories and a fine book for browsing: The characters are pioneers of pluck and, sometimes, ugliness; the disenfranchised, often Native Americans but also blacks, are both opponents and sometimes pioneers themselves. There are scenes of trading parties, seat-of-the-pants justice, medicine shows and mixing between such ostensibly disparate groups as Mormons and Navajos. And there are innovators, who proposed Manifest Destiny, brought postal service to the California gold mines, invented the refrigerated rail car and figured out how to can Hawaiian pineapple. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The subtitle for this continuation of the story Morgan began in Wilderness at Dawn (LJ 4/15/93) could be "How the States Were Made," for that is Morgan's focus as he looks at the settlement of each state during its territorial period from the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the admission of Alaska and Hawaii in 1959. Drawing his information primarily from the collections published by the various state historical societies, Morgan tells the story of each state in the approximate order of admission, using a series of anecdotes about the ordinary people who did the actual settling. This approach gives the reader a good sense of what life was actually like on the frontier and at the same time allows Morgan to relate statehood movements to national events and conditions. In contrast to the first volume, the episodic nature of this volume actually enhances Morgan's story and helps give cohesion to his account. This work will be most useful to general readers and undergraduates seeking to supplement their texts.
Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 559 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (April 6, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671794396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671794392
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have never read a book by Ted Morgan (or his previous incarnation as Sacha de Gramont - note the anagram!) that was not well-written, entertaining and highly informative. He writes about a very wide range of topics and it seems to be impossible to guess what his next work will deal with. This excellent book describes the process whereby the areas west of the Appalacians that became United States post-1800 were initially acquired, how they were incorporated as Territories and finally, how they achieved full statehood. The sequence would be interesting, but presumably familiar, for most US citizens, but for the non-North American the story is totally fascinating. Morgan does not just deal with the official governmental processes but also with the human and sociological aspects of the settlement and development of these vast areas. He intertwines a huge number of personal reminiscences - ranging from the heroic to the tawdry, from the tragic to the hilarious, from the inspiring to the outright indecent - into his narrative, such that it the story comes alive. Having read the book right through once with great pleasure, I find it afterwards to be a splendid tome to dip into at spare moments. It's an excellent bedside companion or a gift for a historically-oriented friend. Practically every page is a delight.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After having read and enjoyed Ted Morgan's book, "Wilderness at Dawn", I was most anxious to see how he would treat the next time period. I was not disappointed. Morgan has such a talent for bringing in the unsung heroes in our nation's historical past and making his reader feel right there in time and place. Because of these two books, I'm now launched into reading some of his other works and hope to eventually read everything he has ever written. He is a true genius with the written word. Would that my own published works could do half as well.
Fred J. RichardsonShovel Of Stars: The Making of the American West 1800 to the Present
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book and I talk about it all the time--- its often very relevant to visiting different places in the US (I live in the west) but this is a terrible title and it drives me bonker as I can never remember the title when talking about it, recommending it, or even looking for it to purchase as a gift.
I am in the publishing industry so I'm hoping the author will not make this mistake again-- title has zero relevance to the subject and has no meaning in itself.
The book is wonderful however, full of both broad spectrum of the history, as well as very personal stories of regular people that really bring the era to life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent history book about settling of the USA. Ted Morgan make history very interesting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent follow up on Dawn in the Wilderness.
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