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About the Author

David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He is the author of numerous books, including Washington's Crossing, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.
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Works by David Hackett Fischer

Associated Works

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (2002) — some editions — 856 copies


Common Knowledge



derailer | 18 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |
a must read for anyone interested in american history
dhenn31 | 34 other reviews | Jan 24, 2024 |
Originally published in 1970.

5/25/2019 2ND READING ATTEMPT - With my second attempt, I made it to chapter 6 of this book for my 52 Bookmark Reading Challenge prompt #24/52 - "Book you never finished"...Still never finished!

It was highly recommended by Dr. Shane Bernard, historian on Avery Island, Louisiana. He claimed it was the most valuable book he's ever read. Great! This was exactly THE kind of book I had been looking for to help me determine a good history book (the truth) verses a bad one (propaganda), since we are having all these problems with the cancel culture and woke leftists trying to cancel out and change history. But, I need to search for another by a different author who writes in a language I can actually understand. On page 285, the author writes regarding a fallacy of many historians, a form of error is…”committed by scholars who never use a little word when a big one will do.” Well, this author could learn from his own writing. You need a dictionary handy just to decipher what it is he’s even talking about. But if you are a scholar, I'm sure you would actually rate this as top-notch. The 1-star is due to my own inadequacy for understanding, not for the quality of this book.

7/22/2018 - 1ST READING ATTEMPT - What the hell did I just read? You seriously need a doctorates degree to read and understand this book! I read through the first chapter a month ago and found it to be way over my head. So I put it down. I actually had it ready to go in the Goodwill box but just couldn't see it go just yet.

I did learn something substantial in that first chapter: That all historians write about history in their own biases and beliefs. Good or bad, right or wrong, their job is to present history to their readers, preferably backing up their writing with empirical proofs, and not their point of views. It is subjective and individual. Wow! I never even thought of it like that before. I've always just simply read and accepted every word in every history book as fact.

Because of this insight, I decided to go ahead slowly and painstakingly try to read through it again and try to gleen at least one important piece of information from each chapter in hopes of learning how to critically read history books, news reports or any other nonfiction piece of work, and to determine if what I'm reading can be a "trusted" source. I found that I'm not smart enough to determine a truth from a lie. But, I did at least learn a little bit about how historians write and the many fallacies that could make or break their reputation as great historians. I was only able to read through half of chapter 6 before totally giving it up for good because I literally couldn't understand one single word they were writing about. It's back in the Goodwill box for the next brilliant mind...
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MissysBookshelf | 7 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
"Albion 19s Seed" by David Hackett Fischer is a terrific history of the various groups of British people who settled in the colonies that later became the United States. Fischer writes clearly, interestingly and with a balance between three elements of historical analysis: blending the stories of the famous with those of the obscure and with a use of statistics that is unexpectedly lively 14a feat in itself. (Too many historians see these three elements as being in competition and use them singly or with overemphasis on one of them over the others.)

Fischer 19s thesis is this: each colony that made up British America was settled by people who tended to come from particular regions of Britain. For example, the characteristically 1Cr 1D dropping New Englanders from whom I myself spring, tended to come from the counties in the eastern part of England where, to this day, people tend to drop their 1Cr 1Ds in much the same way. This is not to say that there were not exceptions to this narrow origin. The area around Rowley, Massachusetts, was settled by people whose origins in England were a bit further north from those of the people who tended to settle the rest of Massachusetts. Indeed, while the majority of those who initially settled the colony were either clergymen, craftsmen, farmers, or fishermen according to their trades in eastern England, the people who settled in Rowley had been millers and, unsurprisingly, given that fact, built the first mills in New England.

My own ancestry reflects further exceptions: one of my ancestors was from southeastern England, a little further south of the majority of Massachusetts Bay colonists, and another direct ancestor came from a suburb of London. However, religion, more than geography, united the colonists of Massachusetts. Most of them were Puritans, and even the settlers of Rowley had been members of a Puritan church in a part of England where Puritans had been less common than in the part of East Anglia where most of the New England colonists came from. Similarly, my own ancestors, though not from the expected region of England, show up in colonial records as members in good standing of the Congregational church that developed out of the Puritan rule. (Although one of my second generation New England ancestors was punished for 1Cconsorting with Baptists. 1D)

Similarly, each other colony 19s history is that of people whose majority tended to come from certain counties in Britain, certain classes of the social order, and certain religions. Virginia, where I now dwell, was settled by people from the southwestern counties of England, both gentlemen (or cavaliers, as they were called) and, eventually, the less than desirable class, including pickpockets and prostitutes. Most of the gentlemen were second sons who did not expect to inherit anything from their wealthy fathers who were entitled and expected under British law to leave their estates entirety to their eldest sons. Nominally adherents of the Church of England (nowadays called Episcopal in the United States), the settlers of Virginia tended to be far less religious than the colonists in Massachusetts who arrived with the intention of establishing a spiritual utopia. However, to all of these people, the New World promised great danger but also a chance of success and relative liberty that was almost impossible back in England.

In each colony, different groups of people arrived in successive waves, each with a different point of arrival in terms both of geography and calendar date. The older settlers often looked down on the newcomers but to varying degrees, and newcomers who had to pass through the cities and towns of earlier settlers tended to continue on to new territories that were as yet less settled. So it was that the last group of settlers to arrive before the American Revolution 14the people from northern England, southern Scotland, and northern Ireland, whom Fischer calls 1CBorderers 1D because they came from border areas within the British Isles 14were regarded as very low indeed by the established American colonists. These newcomers pushed west to the frontiers of several states, including Pennsylvania, where they later participated in the Whiskey Rebellion that President George Washington personally put down at the head of the nation 19s newly minted professional army. Of course, Washington had a personal bone to pick with Borderers because they often squatted on lands that were already legally claimed by wealthy landowners including Washington himself.

This is a very long book. It might please most American readers to read those chapters that deal with their own ancestors, if they are of English or Scots ancestry, or with the region where they happen to live if they are Easterners. But other readers might enjoy this book, too, if they are interested enough in the nitty-gritty of American history to enjoy a well written account of how colonial America was settled by different groups with different backgrounds and intentions, and how these differences determined the various characters of the colonies and perhaps contributed to the diversity of temperament and ethos enjoyed today by the different states that these colonies became.
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MilesFowler | 34 other reviews | Jul 16, 2023 |



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