The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity

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Walker, Jun 12, 2007 - History - 304 pages
2 Reviews
With the same mix of compelling narrative history and captivating historical argument that made his previous book, Measuring America, such a success, Andro Linklater relates in fascinating detail how, the borders and boundaries that formed states and a nation inspired the sense of identity that has have ever since been central to the American experiment.
 
Linklater opens with America's greatest surveyor, Andrew Ellicott, measuring the contentious boundary between Pennsylvania and Virginia in the summer of 1784; and he ends standing at the yellow line dividing the United States and Mexico at Tijuana. In between, he chronicles the evolving shape of the nation, physically and psychologically. As Americans pushed westward in the course of the nineteenth century, the borders and boundaries established by surveyors like Ellicott created property, uniting people in a desire for the government and laws that would protect it. Challenging Frederick Jackson Turner's famed frontier thesis, Linklater argues that we are , thus, defined not by open spaces but by boundaries. "What Americanized the immigrants was not the frontier experience" Linklater writes, "but the fact that it took place inside the United States frontier." Those same borders had the ability to divide as well as unite, as the great battle over internal boundaries during the Civil War would show. By century's end, however, we were spreading U.S. power beyond our borders, an act that, seen through Linklater's eyes, offers an intriguing perspective on our role in the world today.
 
Linklater's great achievement is to weave these provocative arguments into a dramatic storyline, wherein the actions of Ellicott, Thomas Jefferson, the treasonous general James Wilkinson, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and numerous hitherto invisible settlers, all illuminate the shaping of the nation. This brilliant book will alter forever readers' perception of America and what it means to be an American.

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The Fabric of America: How Our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged Our National Identity

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Scottish-born Linklater (Measuring America ) delivers a readable story of how borders helped shape America. He refutes Frederick Jackson Turner's famous thesis that the frontier gave us a dislike for ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jlbrownn23 - LibraryThing

For anyone interested in why the state boundaries wound up where they are, a very good book to read. It is a little surprising to see how deliberate each and every border was, and as a native ... Read full review

Contents

Foresight
1
The First Frontier
17
The Boundaries of Power
37
Copyright

18 other sections not shown

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About the author (2007)

Andro Linklater is the author of Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy as well as The Code of Love and several other books. He lives in England.

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