In this book, Neal Baldwin resents an interesting way of looking at and understanding American history. He explains the background of important American ideals, which state what America is supposed to be and stand for. By presenting the historical and biographical development of America, he was able to explore ten ideals, which he sees as basic to America’s conception of itself. He explained as well how these have impacted the people at that time and how those ideals shaped U. S. history. One thing that really stands out in this book is how little religion plays an overt role.
At times, though not often, Baldwin also recognizes the darker sides to American ideals. It has been insisted that America only gives to other nations, say democracy and freedom, rather than takes and thus could scorn the criticisms of other nations. In the end, he simply scorned the people he originally though America should be helping. Benign paternalism turned into over hostility, a theme that repeatedly occurs in U. S. history. If it is true that ideas mater, then the ideas and ideals which have shaped America’s conception of itself matter a great deal indeed.
The ideas, which Baldwin discusses, are not just clever catch phrases: they often go to the heart of how Americans view themselves and their country. Apparently, these ideals are not fulfilled in the manner, which people would like to think, but that is important as well. It’s simply not possible to understand America and American history without some comprehension of the ideals which Americans have allowed themselves to be led by, how they have tried to live up to those ideals, and how they have failed to live up to them. Despite some flaws, this is indeed a good book on American history.
Baldwin’s prose is lively and engaging, providing a strong sense not just of history generally, but also the people he is discussing. American Colonies: The Settling of North America Traditionally, the history of colonial America has been told as the story of the thirteen mainland British colonies that became the United States of America – at least for most American historians. Happily, Pulitzer Prize – winning historian Alan Taylor offers a newer, more comprehensive and nuanced story in American Colonies. Taylor offers an impressive and broad-ranging revision of the history of early America.
Taylor’s fundamental starting point is the variety of cultures involved in the colonial enterprise particularly since the three clusters (Europeans, Africans, and Indians) encompass a wide array of ethnicities and cultures. Taylor’s sensitivity to cultural diversity and his broad Atlantic context allowed him to give a much clearer picture of the culture of Native Americans. His emphasis on cultural interaction and an Atlantic context as well as his resistance to reading the history of the United States back in time and geography also lead him to expand greatly the geographic and temporal boundaries of colonial America.
It is quite notable as well that Taylor organizes his story first chronologically and then regionally, beginning with a section entitled “Encounters,” moving on to consider “Colonies,” and finally concluding “Empires. ” In each, he considers the primary narratives of the period, moving from region to region and culture-to-culture, always mindful to point out interactions, common themes and outcomes along the way. In the final analysis, American Colonies is an excellent synthesis if recent scholarship underlying these and broad comparative perspective. However, it is also much more than that.
Taylor’s complex vision of early America forces readers to rethink everything they think they know about colonialism and colonial America. It will undoubtedly become a classis in colonial history and should certainly be required reading for anyone interested in the history of North America and its origins. America Discovered: A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration Derek Hayes’ engaging America Discovered chronicles that the profit motive and the human desire to know what is over the next hill were the driving forces in the exploration of North America.
For centuries, explorers searched in vain for the golden cities or a route to China to expedite trade. Along the way, if those goals could not be met, they at least hoped to find something of value that could be sent back to Europe or sold to the slowly growing colonies of the world’s imperial powers. Integral to the process of exploring, of course, was the creation of maps. Hayes explores the unveiling of North America through 300 maps created during the past five centuries of exploration.
As America Discovered shows, that exploration was often a haphazard process. Fantasy led some to include speculation as well as fact on their maps, which led California to be portrayed as an island on maps for nearly two centuries. Although the maps are the prime attraction of the book, Hayes’ insightful commentary adds much to the glory. He provides context by recounting the stories behind many of the maps, delving into the reasons for their creation.
The real treat of America Discovered is that history is drawn in front of the readers’ eyes. Hayes presents the maps in roughly chronological order grouped by region, so the reader can follow the steady progress of explorers through the centuries. The opening of the West and the hunt for the Northwest Passage are re-created with an extensive selection of maps, allowing the readers to better understand the enormity of the task that awaited those brave enough to enter the lands never before seen by European eyes.
In the modern ear, maps are usually strictly utilitarian tools, designed to show what is there. America Discovered argues that maps also once served as catalogues of desires for the continent, whether the quest was for riches, land or a route to China. America Discovered chronicles the fascinating evolution of North America, from a few hundred miles of eastern coastline centuries ago to the high-tech satellite and computer-generated maps of today, and its is an aesthetic and intellectual treat.
References Baldwin, N. (2005). The American Revelation: Ten Ideals That Shaped Out Country from the Puritans to the Cold War. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Hayes, D. (2004). America Discovered: A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre. Taylor, A. (2002). American Colonies: The Settling of North America (The Penguin History of the United States Vol. 1. USA: Penguin USA.