The First Frontier by Scott Weidensaul

The First Frontier

Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Custer or Lewis and Clark, before the first Conestoga wagons rumbled across the Plains, it was the East that marked the frontier—the boundary between complex Native cultures and the first colonizing Europeans.Here is the older, wilder, darker history of a time when the land between the Atlantic and the Appalachians was contested ground—when radically different societies a...

Details The First Frontier

TitleThe First Frontier
Release DateFeb 8th, 2012
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History

Reviews The First Frontier

  • Holly Weiss
    Scott Weidensaul takes us back to the true frontier, The First Frontier, where lands east of the Hudson and Delaware were hotly contested for two centuries before the American Revolution. People who laid claim to the eastern seaboard came with ambiguous motives from unimaginably different cultures and lands. Although cohabiting the land, they communicated poorly and remained estranged. This peerlessly researched book opens our eyes to a violent t...
  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    I was really interested in reading this history of interactions between Native Americans and Europeans in colonial America, though the relatively small number of ratings gave me pause; American history is a popular topic among nonfiction readers. As it turns out I should have heeded those reservations. While I did learn some things from this book, it turned out to be a long, unorganized slog. It took me a long time to read because I returned to i...
  • Steven Peterson
    This book is the story (Page xiv) "that harks back to the days when the East was contested ground--fought over by empires and bled for by people who, regardless of their language, color, or birthplace, saw it as their own and worth dying for."This is a well told story of the contest among settlers of different European lands and native Americans. It is a story of bravery and treachery, a battle over land, efforts at reconciliation--and betrayal. ...
  • Linda
    Winter quarter I tutored a young man in American history from "discovery" to 1800. I learned a few new things and when I saw this book covered much of the same time period, I thought I'd try it out. Fantastic choice!!! First of all, the writer is a writer. His nonfiction is as smooth to read as fiction usually is. He tells the tale of America's beginnings through the eyes of as many of its participants as he can. Of course, not all events are cov...
  • Dale
    I have had Scott Weidensaul's The First Frontier for longer than a year, buried in my legendary pile of books (actually, I am more organized than that, they are all in 4 milk crates) but when I heard an interview with Wiedensaul on the John Batchelor radio show I was reminded to dig it out.Weidensaul is to be commended for a very thorough job of researching the history of the relationship between the natives and the European colonists. The reco...
  • Chris
    Here are a good collection of stories that present a compiled history of various struggles in early American history. It showcases some interesting characters that are often ignored, and goes deep into the history with what seems to be a pretty balanced view of each civilization and the struggles of each.I found the 17th century stories to be the most fascinating, because these are the stories about which I don't often hear. Scott brings forth a ...
  • Jo Stafford
    Lenape, Pequot, Yamasee, Narragansett - these are not the names that usually come to mind when we think of Native American nations that resisted white encroachment. But that's because we're used to thinking of the frontier as western, and the nations I mentioned are eastern peoples. Weidensaul's engagingly written book recounts the history of Native American-European contact in the east - America's first frontier - until just after the end of the...
  • Dale Grauman
    You could probably talk me back up to four stars. But the author tries to treat many disconnected stories as if they were all part of one unified narrative, and I had trouble identifying and keeping track of that unified narrative.The "forgotten history" subtitle is basically printed clickbait. While it's true that most non-historians have either forgotten or never learned this stuff, everything in this book is well documented in other perfectly ...
  • Jean-Paul Adriaansen
    I should have given this book a 5-star rating for the thorough investigating by the author. This monumental work is overflowing with tons of historical details, names, and dates.The clash between civilizations was probably nowhere that intense as in the Americas. 2 cultures, completely strange to each other, have to manage to coexist together, without understanding the languages and the habits of the others. It is the epic struggle for survival o...
  • Don Kent
    I have greatly enjoyed this author's previous books but this was a really tough read. His summary of what is known about the migration of peoples to America was excelllent, but the intricracies of his rhetoric regarding the indian wars was a bore.
  • Tom
    I have read better books on the subject. Look at any written by Fred Anderson.
  • Ishmael Seaward
    The time and location of The First Frontier is from about 1600 to 1760, beginning with the first European settlements in America and ending with the French and Indian War, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains. It really focuses on the clash of cultures between the Native Americans and the Europeans. It is probably as even-handed as any book on this topic and reads like a novel, full of anecdotes and first person quotes, and so...
  • Cheryl
    This is history writing at its finest. Much of the material has been covered in other books I have read, such as Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann, so in some ways, not original material, but the storytelling was the thing. It looks more closely at the eastern seaboard, and the tribes that were living there even dipping into the latest theories of when and who and ...
  • Casey
    A good book, covering the first 150 years of interactions between the Native Americans and the colonists of North America. Though the book does provide some broader aspects of the political and cultural dynamics on the Atlantic seaboard, it concentrates on three specific regions and periods: New England in the 17th century, the Carolinas in the early 18th century, and the Western Pennsylvania frontier in the mid 18th century. The narrative concen...
  • James G. Fedorka
    A nice read; structured with a reasonable pace and loaded with well researched history. The exploration of a largely glossed over period in our nations past comes to life without tedium. Enjoyed reading all the footnotes and the bibliography as well. Weidensaul makes a sweeping appraisal of a large, active and at times violent and cruel time period with relative ease. Being a sociology / human interaction enthusiast, I enjoyed the patient, evenha...
  • Amanda
    Wonderful take on the way the colonial life was after the arrival of the Europeans. Beautifully detailed, and filled with wonderful information about the people who lived during that time.
  • Patrick Walker
  • Bill
    The wild, wild East! The sub-title is an accurate description of what this is about; struggle, savagery, and endurance in early (mostly eastern North) America.
  • Christine B.
    I really liked this -- I learned a lot. I need to spend more time studying the maps in the book to integrate more of the names into my brain.
  • Mark F Montgomery
    After wading through the difficult early parts in which the author felt obligated to educate the reader on native American vocabulary that appears difficult to pronounce and impossible to remember, it warms up in the middle and turns positively fascinating in the latter sections. After years of reading revolutionary war era history, I finally have a context to understand the complexity of native/native and native/settler dynamics in play as the c...
  • Mike
    Ever drive along Route 78 in the middle of Pennsylvania and wonder who Conrad Weiser was and why his homestead gets a sign on the side of a highway? Well my friend, this book is for you! Turns out Mr. Weiser was an eminent translator and go-between for colonial powers and the Indian tribes during the first half of the 18th century. A contemporary and sometime colleague of George Washington during the French and Indian War, Weiser also led constru...
  • J.S.
    When Americans think of the "frontier" we usually think of the West. But before European immigrants began to quickly expand across the North American continent, the frontier was in the east and remained so for hundreds of years. Scott Weidensaul looks at the history of relations between the Native Americans and European on this first frontier starting long before Columbus and going up to just before the American Revolution.Mr. Weidensaul states t...
  • Greg
    I'm stuck as to what to rate this book. I hate giving everything 4s, but I think this book really deserves it and I've been overrating other books to this point.In reading non-fiction, I tend to let interesting information influence my rating over the writing itself. I certainly thought the writing here was well-done, but I have to admit that I felt myself dragged mostly along by the fascinating story (which is largely ignored in our numerous Ame...
  • Lisa
    Scott Weidensaul's writing makes history come alive in an exciting and spellbinding fashion. This book covers pre-contact history up through the end of the French-Indian War. All those gaps left by history books that invariably started with Columbus and the Spanish explorers, jumped to Jamestown then the Pilgrims and right to the Boston Tea Party, are filled in by this book. As someone who has lived most of my life in Pennsylvania, meaning I took...
  • Sharon Miller
    Scott Weidensaul is an old-fashioned naturalist and historian. I am deeply compelled by his books, the way he tells a story and illuminates the landscapes, both of character and topography with sympathy and a painterly telling, you feel like you are there. There is a spiritual quality to such narrative, a close focus that transports and grasps my attention, a sense of time travel and of real experience. Like other books on the same topic the stor...
  • David
    I've known Scott for nearly 20 years. I've read his work on the art of Ned Smith and outdoor subjects, but I did not know of his interest in colonial history until the publication of this book. I was pleasantly surprised at his skillful use of sources to tell a story that covers more than two centuries during which the frontier of North America was mostly a sliver of land along the Atlantic coast which gradually and with many conflicts grew beyon...
  • David Bird
    I was a bit hesitant when this book started with an author's note on transcriptions "I modernized the use of u and v, which in the sixteenth century were often well as the use i instead of j...likewise I modernized the use of fs for the double s in words such as addrefs." The phrasing suggests an author not familiar with the practices of the sixteenth-eighteenth century, that it was not a reversal of letters but that the distinction...
  • Jaylia3
    For hundreds of years before the thirteen colonies were established, Native Americans and Europeans interacted along the east coast of what is now the United States, and The First Frontier: the Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America tells that fascinating but for me largely unknown story. The First Frontier covers some of the same ground as Charles Mann's books 1491 and 1493, but with a tight and detailed focus on...
  • Bryn Dunham
    By far this book exceeded my expectations and renewed my interest in the early colonial period and European and Indian relations. What makes this book unique is that the author not only discusses the initial contact with Europeans but the theories regarding the origins of the Indians in North America. The book chronicles in detail how dangerous life in the backwoods could be and how various rivalries and relations were formed not just between the...
  • Mary
    The author is not a profession historian and this is not an academic history. There doesn't seem to be any theory the author is trying to promote or prove. Instead, there are nearly 400 pages of well told stories about life at the edge of European settlement in North America through the end of the French & Indian Wars. The author does tend to swirl around topics, which can make it a bit difficult to fit the timeline together, but generally the su...