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Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the…
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Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent (edition 1993)

by Ted Morgan

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295254,412 (3.74)11
Member:GVassmer
Title:Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent
Authors:Ted Morgan
Info:Pocket Books (1993), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 541 pages
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Wilderness At Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent by Ted Morgan

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This may very well be a perfect book. Morgan shows the exploration and settling of the North American continent through appropriate stories and anecdotes. He explains the six Indian nation’s interest in the revolutionary war lucidly in a single paragraph! I just had to chuckle in the part where the Indians don’t understand why the white man wants more land than he needs. Again and again I kept thinking that a particular story would make a great episode of a mini-series…

“Archeology is a form of time travel.”

[Verrazano] stopped at a Caribbean island, where some Caribs killed him as he waded ashore and he ended up as dinner.


Reading history written like this keeps me wide awake and entranced!

Byrd (DOB 1650) is married to Lucy 10 yrs his jr I think that Byrd's candid diary tells us more about the pre-revolution attitude toward women than any scholarly history.

"It was a tempestuous marriage. Lucy Park Byrd was a high-strung woman, given to tantrums. For reasons that baffled her husband, she was customarily indisposed, out of humor, melancholy, or in poor health."

"When Lucy herself was good -- or more precisely, when Byrd wanted to get back in her good graces after a quarrel -- he "rogered" or "flourished" her. A fight in the morning was followed by a "flourish" in the afternoon, and he observed on one occasion that 'the flourish was performed on the billiard table'."

"Byrd was normally up early, but when Lucy was out of sorts he stayed in bed to do a little wife-wooing. "I rogered her," he writes, "by way of reconciliation." Sex was seen as the cure for her recurring indispositions and bad humors, as when he reported that she had "a hysteric fit pretty violently which lasted about an hour." After the medication, she usually improved; as he observed, "I gave my wife a powerful flourish and gave her great ecstasy and refreshment." "


I just didn't expect Wilderness at Dawn to be this darn funny. Why wasn't history presented to me like this in 8th grade? I would have passed with flying colors.

The Congress (there being as yet no executive branch) became a friendly real-estate agent. With this one decision on the division of land into township and sections, they determined what kind of country America would be. It would not be a country of great estates and tenant farmers. It would not be like Europe, where only, kings, the nobility, and the church could own land. It would be a country where anybody could own land, a pie with millions of slices, a country where the buying and selling of acreage was as simple as a day’s shopping.

If one believes that people are as much a product of their physical environment as of their principles and beliefs, the township system shaped the American character as definitively as the Declaration of Independence. This invisible grillwork stamped upon the nation became a part of the American consciousness, showing up in architecture and urban design, in main streets and front porches, in baseball diamonds and square dances.


We’ve all learned the stories of how the military gave Indians small pox infested blankets. And we’ve all heard about the revolutionary soldiers having no shoes. Indeed those stories are included but in a rational and surprising way. ( )
1 vote Clueless | Jun 29, 2008 |
This very readable book throws aside the old Fredrick Jackson Turner thesis that the frontier was a line moving west across the country that more or less closed in about 1890. Morgan, instead, describes many frontiers, colliding with one another from many different directions, propelled by many colonial powers, provoking many different conflicts. One of my favorite books. ( )
1 vote ksmyth | Oct 11, 2005 |
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This is the biggest, grandest, most sprawling epic ever told, filled with battles and hardship, courage, determination, daring voyages into the unknown, and eye-opening discoveries... From the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of FDR, Winston Churchill, and Somerset Maugham, Wilderness At Dawn is the sprawling, roughhouse epic of the unsung heroes, heroines, and rogues who tamed the rugged continent that became our country. Here is a masterpiece of history, research, and storytelling, the panoramic epic of the North American continent and the vast array of characters who thought they could civilize it. Concentrating on those previously ignored by "polite histories" (ordinary settlers, unknown soldiers, scalawags, pioneer women, slaves, and Native Americans), Morgan uses scenes and dialogue from actual letters, journals, and diaries to recreate the odysseys, adventures, human dramas, and inhuman suffering that shaped America. Beginning with prehistoric man's first forays across the Bering Land Bridge, Morgan unfurls a rich tapestry of lost civilizations and Indian accomplishments; ambitious explorers, would-be politicians and transplanted Europeans confronting the wilderness; scrappy newborn towns and dandified plantation societies; great river navigations and catastrophic explorations; the bloody Indian wars and the birth of the American revolution. All are here - the triumphs, tragedies, battles and intrigues from the Ice Age when Early Man roamed an empty continent to the achievement of the all-American dream of "Land for Every Man." Morgan takes us into the world of the lost Anasazi people, where inventive Indians built houses of 500 rooms, veritable "cities of stone" tucked among the canyon walls. He takes us into the lives of the Indians of the Southwest where a shipwrecked Spanish explorer named Cabeza de Vaca became an indentured servant (and later medicine man) to a tribe of Indian fishermen. We see the arrival of the first Jews in North America, the harsh hierarchies of the Puritans, the intricacies of the rice planter societies of the early 1700s in Carolina. Enriched by Ted Morgan's own visits to most of the sites he describes, enlivened by the actual words of characters such as the circuit-riding minister Charles Woodmason, the freed slave Thomas Jeremiah, the frontiersman Christopher Gist and the plantation manager Eliza Lucas, Wilderness At Dawn is a lively world of rich historical storytelling and adventure.… (more)

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