Wilderness at dawn: the settling of the North American continent
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of FDR uses scenes and dialogues from letters, journals, and diaries to recreate the odysseys, adventures, human dramas, and inhuman suffering that shaped American history. 75,000 first printing.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Ted Morgan's Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent (New York: Simon & Schuster. 541 pp; 1993) is a human history of North America from man's first crossing of the Bering land bridge through the long centuries of the American Eden, to the era of European colonization, the displacement and dispossession of the American Indians and the theft, the taming and the ruin of the vast American wilderness. Wilderness At Dawn is not drum-and-trumpet history; neither is it a tale of rum and strumpets, nor does it sing the birth and spread of great ideas or the praises of great men. Rather, reading Wilderness, one gets the idea that there are no great men. Morgan's tale of America expresses a strong belief in the grit and the cussedness of human nature to which high-mindedness plays a poor and distant second fiddle. So far from describing the growth of ivy on the walls of a shining city on a hill, Morgan seems not to see the city or the hill while his narrative slathers herbicide on the ivy. People like John Smith and Thomas Jefferson get mention here but not more than, say, Pontiac or La Salle. All the players seem driven by geography, by necessity, by fear or by naked greed. In turn they act with courage or with cowardice. Naked savagery gives way to reason as often as reason gives way to savagery. Heroes and villains are about equally hard to come by in this book. In sum, Morgan's history is the warts-and-all story of little people who came to America, made the necessary adjustments and lived on the land or died in the attempt. It was the cumulative, individual efforts of ordinary people, most of them anonymous, that moved the frontier west and settled the land. Author Morgan plainly believes that history is driven by hordes of little people in pursuit of self-interest, and he argues his case persuasively. Packed cover-to-cover with pithy, illustrative anecdotes and leg-wetting facts, the whole of it tightly laced into a stellar, exciting narrative, Mr. Morgan's Wilderness At Dawn is one heck of a good read. Morgan has no time for über patriots, religious zealots, racists, sexists, socialists, capitalists, or any of the modern cranks who believe it was people of their particular stripe who built the United States from scratch in accordance with some grand plan. Solomon sez: Ted Morgan seems the most plain-spoken and unabashedly honest historian I've read since (many years ago) I first got hold of Francis Parkman. Wilderness At Dawn is an exciting and insightful lot of fun, and no American should miss it.
Review: Wilderness at Dawn: The Settling of the North American ContinentUser Review - Goodreads
My two biggest complaints about this book is the lack of devoted material to the slave trade and the flow of story lines. I bought the book expecting to read more from the slaves perspectives, even ...
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