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Showing 1-10 of 105 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 147 reviews
VINE VOICEon August 11, 2012
Most Americans think of the west when they think of the frontier but the author of "The First Frontier" rightly reminds his readers that there was a much earlier frontier in what is now the eastern part of the United States. As should be expected with any single book on such a vast subject, the author touches only lightly on many important events during the long history of the eastern fontier. This book deals largely with the relationships and warfare between the Indians and the Colonists. Most of the book I found to be well-written in a highly readable style. The section dealing with American pre-history I found to be a bit too lengthy given that it consists largely of speculation since little is actually known with any degree of certainty. The author deals with the early conflicts in the southern colonies and those in what would become the New England states. The focus is almost entirely on the Pennsylvania frontier for the portion of the book dealing with the French and Indian War. Strangely enough, given its relative size and importance during the period, the New York frontier is almost entirely ignored. The book ends with a brief mention of Pontiac's Rebellion and the looming Revolutionary War. Overall a good, though selective, introduction to the Eastern Frontier.
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on March 31, 2012
Conrad Weiser (1696-1760), who is buried some two miles from my home, is one of a number of historic characters who bring life to this amazing book. Others include Hannah Duston, who went on her own personal warpath killing and scalping of her Indian captors in her escape. Robert Stobo, a British officer who provided General Braddock needed information before the disaster during the French and Indian (Seven Years')War and who survived death by the French and Indians so often, killed himself in a drunken stupor. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are given their times on stage.

Many children of the early settlers were captured and lost their English or German languages. Some were Amish and Quakers. After years they did not want to leave their Native American lives and adoptive families to return to their birth familes.

The author explains much important trivia such as wampum and the origin of buck (for a dollar). This is a wild and wide-ranging book. It unites, details, and clarifies such items as the recent finding of the 9,300 year old remains of the Kennewick Man on the shores of the Columbia River and the Basque cod fisherman and Vikings who were familiar with these eastern Atlantic shores long before Columbus set foot in the New World.

This is a very important and never dry read which is a continuous page-turner. The illustrations and maps are most helpful. It should nest in most public libraries. The book is well-documented. It sets the stage for the American Revolution.
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on May 21, 2014
Having read several of Scott Weidensaul's books, both history and natural history, I think his writing just keeps getting better. He takes a complex subject and draws the reader in. Even if history, the early history of our country, isn't your thing you'll find something to like about this book. I heard Mr Weidensaul do a reading from this book at a local bookstore and I was captived. He approaches history and tells it as a story, a story of real people and their lives. You'll find much here that isn't in the history books. Living in Pennslyvania, where many of the incidents in this book occured, I found there was much I didn't know.

Don't be tempted to disregard this as fluff. Weidensaul is a Pulitzer Prize nominated author (for "Living on the Wind") and is meticulous about his research whether it be historical or scientific. If you are looking for a solidly researched, well-written book about the first American frontier I doubt that you'd find a better one than Weidensaul's.
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on November 23, 2014
Scott Weidensaul has given us a harrowing account of the way the first British settlements in North America took land from the Native American who lived there. They did it variously by purchase, deceit, and force, and it is not a pretty story–-although it was probably inevitable. It involved a series of little wars that led eventually to a global conflict. When it was over the French were expelled from the continent and the original inhabitants pushed out of the Appalachians into Ohio and Kentucky. Some of this has been told before--in Nathaniel Philbrick's MAYFLOWER and in histories of the French and Indian War. Weidensaul has given us a complete, balanced account. Along the way he has acquainted us with land agents, scouts, and frontiersmen--many of them with wonderful stories--we wouldn't have met before.
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on November 16, 2013
At first I was thinking of giving this book only a four star rating at best, but as I wrote this review I had to add the extra star. My first inclination is to say the writing style is bit disjointed and the subject matter as not fully covered, but a deeper appraisal shows these are not flaws at all.
The work does not seem to do a good a job of telling the history of the first frontier. What it does cover at first seems to be done in a stop-start manner. As you get into the story you see that is done with the intention of showing the reader the complexity of the bigger picture.
This history will not give you a full and complete view of the European inroads into the continent. What it will do is tell the story of many of the individuals that were involved in those events. In fact this is the one point that makes this book such a good read. As a teacher of history I have often told my students not to look at history as a group of disjointed group of dates and events but to see them as the story of the people involved therein. Scott Weidensaul did just that in this work.
If you want a comprehensive list of the events that transpired from roughly 1500 the 1770, then you might want to look elsewhere. If you want to see the history of the two centuries of the European-Native interaction in America this is the book for you.
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on April 16, 2017
Meticulously researched with hundreds of notes, readably written, this tome magnificently takes the reader through a long, messy history of the New World/Old World interface over the last thousand years. Weidensaul masters so many histories, biographies and legendary tales with an unflinching honesty that no one else has related that it may become the "go to" text for a generation. Only small complaint: more maps.
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on May 7, 2014
Scott Weidensaul has done historians and Americans at large a great service with this finely researched book. Nearly 45% of the book is notes and sources, which explains the detail he has put into telling the tale of our early beginnings. It is not a pretty story. Cruelty and savagery among and between people - Indians, colonialists, French, British - is not confined to one group more than others. The people of the First Frontier learned terrible things from each other and used them liberally against each other. The fight was for the land and everyone was in the fight for all of those years and it was a bitter fight.

Weidensaul used an almost Novel style to paint this masterpiece, which worked most of the time. However, I had trouble, from time to time, following the timeline as he moved back and forth over 250 years. Most of the characters were familiar, although he introduced many I had not known of before. If we can look at William Penn, for example, as one of our early and well intentioned immigrants, we must also see his sons as two of the greatest rascals and savage characters of the time.

The struggles and savagery that marked this period changes forever one's understanding of what it took to build this nation. That anyone endured is the surprise. That they endured and put together the Constitution that became the baseline for this nation requires a new respect for our forefathers.
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on January 26, 2013
Weidensaul does an excellent job of describing the early settlement of America and explodes a few myths along the way. One significant one is that two few Americans realize that before the Pilgrims there was an estimated population of native tribes numbering in the millions.
Weidensaul highlights their contributions as well as their persecution as the Europeans placed an ever-widening foot upon the continent.
Very interesting read.
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on May 12, 2015
Early American history has become a subject of fascination for me. This book begins with the Vikings coming to Vineland (or was it Basque fishermen?) It also explores the potential origins of the native Americans that were "discovered" by Columbus, et al. (or did Columbus learn about this area from the Basque fishermen?)

The author is more of a naturalist than a certified historian although his research is vast and excellent and he sees the struggles between the European explorers and settlers through a different lenses. It is a compelling tale that explains why the Seven Years War erupted and eventually led to the war of independence. There are no hero's, just people living their lives and making the history that few Americans know but still influence the way Americans think to this day.
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on January 2, 2015
This book covers from the time when the Europeans first tried to colonize the Americans to just before the war of independence. It goes up the East Coast from Florida and the Carolinas to New France in Canada. It talks about how the whites and the Indians struggled with each other and the many wars that they had. If you like the very early frontiers and this is the book for you. It can be a little difficult to read sometimes because it talks about the many different Indian and how they Allied with some tribes and had war with others and all the while tried to manage with the influx of the European settlers.
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