on 16 October 2002
This book is a fantastic treatment of the colonisation of the U.S. It is at once scholarly and yet extremely entertaining. It is full of great maps and is set out in a very reader-friendly manner. The chapters are longical-making the book easy to follow - and are aided by the short sections which help maintain and reader-friendly structure.
The story itself is a fantastic, all-encompassing, study of the first steps of the Europeans to the massive influx of colonists in later years. By treating each area separately we see the differing charactertistics of the environment and the people who inhabited it.
Taylor treats deeply the effect of colonisation on the Indian population and also on the African slaves, without reverting to extreme European-bashing.
I can't say enough good things about this book - if you're at all interested in this fascinating time of history you will find 'American Colonies' a educational, entertaining and ultimately rewarding read.
I've never studied the American Colonies before and came to this book not knowing which side of America California was on. Since American history is so rarely taught in British schools I was sadly lacking in any geographical and historical background. This book was the perfect remedy. Since reading it I've become intrigued by colonial america (so much so I've changed my degree to study it!).
The book illuminated each aspect of colonialisation seperately, dedicating sections to the earliest conquests of the Spanish and to the Native Americans who lived on the land before the advent of colonialism. Then each colony is dealt with succinctly, split into 5 main chapters concerning the British colonies: The West Indies, the Carolinas, the Chesapeake, the Middle Colonies and New England. Each gives an individual and comparative narrative of the settlement of each colony along with an analysis of its circumstances.
Its perfect for a student studying the colonies as part of a large lecture course thats sparse on detail. Its both informative and easy to read. A special mention has to be made of the maps, so often missing from historical texts, that show each colony with its major settlements, regions and native tribes. Buy it when it comes out in paperback :o)
on 21 March 2007
This is history at it's very best.
As a degree student of U.S History I have found this invaluable. The book is clearly written, concise, detailed and coherent. The whole narrative reads perfectly, touching on and encompassing all of the factors that constitute the early history of the USA. You will never be bogged down in names, statistics or rambling waffle like many history books.
If you want to start learning the history of the USA, start here and move on to the Oxford History of the United States series. You will know all there is to know about how and why America became the most powerful and wealthy nation on Earth. Everything is so crisply explained, it's wondeful. His breezy and clear prose puts other historians to shame. I am hoping he will write several more books on later US History. A fantastic introduction to America.
on 16 April 2010
I found this a very interesting book. I had wanted to fill in the gaps between Colombus and the American Revolution and this book did a superb job at that. I thought it was a well-written and user-friendly book that succeeded in keeping my attention throughout. Colonial American history lasted longer than US history has so far done and it was instructive to chart the gradual transformations of how in an unknown and challenging land societies evolved from a few starving and failing 'plantations' to the wealthy, healthy and thriving cummunities of some million and a half people on the eve of their challenging and winning independence from the mother country.
The role that Indians and Africans played in this drama is dealt with proportionately and sympathetically along with examining the diverse mix of nationalities, the various religious and economic motivations driving colonisation, the 'pushes and pulls' of emigration, European rivalries and how this all coalesced to produce the nation that was to become the United States of America.
In this 21st century, if you want to understand the American psyche then you need to look at its infancy and formative years.