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Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent Hardcover – May, 1993

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this "collective biography of ordinary Americans," Morgan ( FDR ) offers an involving, if a bit disjointed, popular history of North America to the end of the 18th century. He draws on memoirs, journals and academic studies for his colloquial, panoramic narrative; his anecdotes mainly eschew the famous for intriguing characters like William Fitzhugh, who in 1674 built a 13-room house, complete with Turkish carpets, on Virginia's "gentrified" northern frontier. As Morgan covers the advances of the European powers and the formation of the United States, he does not ignore the many depredations of the powerful. But the French-born author is, above all, an American enthusiast, and he concludes by celebrating the emerging nation's egalitarianism and "spirit of enterprise." Sometimes, however, Morgan's search for relevance--as when he links colonial tobacco propaganda to 20th-century ads for "Marlboro Country"--seems strained, and he makes few attempts to apprise the reader of ongoing debates about historical interpretation. BOMC main selection; History Book Club and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Morgan, the biographer of Klaus Barbie ( An Uncertain Hour , LJ 12/89), Franklin Roosevelt ( FDR , LJ 11/1/85), and others, here turns his attention to the settlement of the frontier. Drawing on diaries, journals, letters, and similar sources, he begins with the first people to cross the Bering land bridge about 15,000 years ago, continues with the story of the European settlement of those colonies that played the most significant roles in the struggle among Spain, France, and Britain for control of the continent, and concludes by surveying the Western lands in the decades following the American Revolution. He tells a good story, emphasizing the ordinary people who did the actual settlement, but does not provide the analysis needed by specialists. The account is comprehensive for the years up to 1630. While it gets sidetracked for the period after that, this book is recommended for undergraduate and public libraries as a useful survey of the colonial frontier.
- Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 541 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; First edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671690884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671690885
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David J. Maschek on May 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ted Morgan's "Wilderness at Dawn" is one of the best of a crop of North American colonial histories published since 1990. Rather than a comprehensive history, it is a series of incidents that add up to a very readable whole. Morgan begins with pre-Columbian history and goes on to relate the experiences of the Spanish, French, Dutch, and various flavors of English colonies. One of my favorite stories is how the godly Pilgrims found themselves neighbors to a riotous colony led by one Thomas Morton. Before Miles Standish put their rivals out of business, Morton's drunken crew traded guns and booze to the Indians in exchange for beaver pelts and sexual favors. Anyone who believes history is boring has not read Ted Morgan's and other recent works about the American colonies. The last section of this book addresses the problems of post-Revolutionary War colonization, including chapters about the appalling dangers of trans-Appalachian settlement and about how the Old Northwest was surveyed.
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Format: Paperback
Reading these first person accounts of day-to-day and moment-to-moment life in pre-Colonial America gave me such an appreciation for what our predecessors went through to make our country the great one it is today. This is the book our children should read in their American history classes. Exceptionally well-written, with a "you are there" feel to it. Makes me want to learn more about the young George Washington after reading about his escape from the center of the freezing river. Well-written, entertaining and informative. I'm lapsing into cliches, but this book is a MUST READ. Just brilliant. You'll admire the everyday people who built our country one day at a time, and never tire of reading about their adventures. I hated to see it end, so thank God there's a sequel!
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Format: Paperback
Breathtaking approach to a well known subject. History from the people's viewpoint. No dull dates, battles, generals, presidents; but living, breathing stories by and of the most unique and most common. Must also read Shovel of Stars, the sequel (also 10)
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Format: Paperback
Ted Morgan's Wilderness At Dawn brings early North American history to life. Morgan's vibrant narrative moves beyond historical facts to make you feel that you are there.

Wilderness at Dawn covers North America's prehistoric period through European exploration and settlement. It examines how various cultural groups affected and were affected by North America. The book is also more balanced than most in its coverage of the highly sophisticated (but often neglected) early Native American cultures.

Absolutely the best damn read of any kind I've had in a long time
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Format: Paperback
Wilderness at Dawn provides a fascinating account of the
experiences of men and women in the settling of North
America from the arrival of the first inhabitants crossing
the Bering Strait land bridge up to the eve of the U.S.
Civil War. Life on the frontier, as it moved from the
coasts inward and westward, is told compellingly as if the
reader were there experiencing the events. More than just an
account of European colonization, the book considers the
lives of all of North America's inhabitants with an
even-handed approach. As an Ohioan, I found the accounts
of Ohio's transformation from frontier to "hinterland"
particularly interesting. All Americans should find this
book useful in understanding the early history of our
country.
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