American Colonies by Alan Taylor

American Colonies

With this volume, Alan Taylor challenges the traditional story of colonial history by examining the many cultures that helped make America. Transcending the usual Anglocentric version of our colonial past, he recovers the importance of Native American tribes, African slaves, and the rival empires of France, Spain, the Netherlands, and even Russia in the colonization of North America. Moving beyond the Atlantic seaboard to examine the entire conti...

Details American Colonies

TitleAmerican Colonies
Release DateJul 31st, 2003
GenreHistory, North American Hi..., American History, Nonfiction

Reviews American Colonies

  • Eric
    Some reviews on this site mention Taylor’s “leftist bias,” allege a soft-pedaling of Native American violence and environmental impact. I don’t really see it. Sure, Taylor has his moments of passionate phrasing, but a work of this scope and synthesis (all colonial experiments in North America, and most in the Caribbean, from Columbus to the California missions) is a poor vehicle for agitation; the reading, and perhaps the writing, of any ...
  • Becky
    I picked this book up off the discount shelf at a bookstore many years ago when I was going through my compulsive accumulation of books. I chose it not knowing anything about it other than it was a history book and that it served my purpose of getting to know history better one day. The title seemed a little boring, the subject a little bland, but oh how looks and initial impressions can be deceiving. Much to my surprise, this is a wonderful and ...
  • Peter
    Alan Taylor's "American Colonies" seems like a benign title in what is (or was supposed to be) Penguin Books first volume of the publisher's History of the United States of America, given the content of this well researched, well documented and well referenced book.The theme of "American Colonies" is enslavement, expansion, exploitation and extermination.Taylor ends this volume in 1820, but in the preceding decades imperial rivalries between the ...
  • Fred R
    This would be excellent history except that the narrative is continually interrupted by politically correct qualifications and adjustments. This habit is extremely annoying, particularly when one is reading for edification, not moral ammunition. Steve Sailer once said: "Besides being useful (in all sorts of hard to predict ways), the truth is really, really interesting, while political correctness is skull-crushingly boring. That's because every ...
  • Rebecca Radnor
    Taylor does a wonderful job of covering the breath and depth of the development of the colonial period in North America (British, French, Spanish and even Russian), with a strong emphasis on economic drivers that impacted cultural differences in each colony. (Warning, I'm an anthropologist & historian who also studies international business, so seeing this stuff makes me happy.) He offers a great deal of data regarding push/pull economics and dem...
  • Kay
    This book takes an expansive look at re-examining early colonialism in the Americas, and I picked it up in part because some friends of mine all agreed to take on the Oxford History of the United States. Alan Taylor's work, which was edited by author of the much-hailed Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877, Eric Foner, to divide the colonial period up not by decade, but by colonizing forces. He roughly divides the era into the...
  • Justin Evans
    A model work of new-style history. Taylor's book isn't a straight narrative, but it has the grip of one thanks to his eye for detail, his better than passable prose (which, in academic history, is... well, that's very high praise), and his even-handedness. The settling of North America was not a pleasant thing. As ever, the test for a work of history is whether it makes you want to read other books on the same topic, and this one did that in spad...
  • KJ
    A tour de force by Alan Taylor! The heavy tome might seem daunting at first, but Taylor puts us on a boat to the new world and successfully navigates us not only to Puritan New England, but Spanish South America, the Virginia Company, the middle Colonies, the West Indies, and the Pacific. In many ways, Taylor does not limit our scope. His work simultaneously reveals the colonization of the Americas, one of the first, if not the only work, I have ...
  • Pat Rolston
    This is a wonderfully written story about our national heritage and roots. The reader is provided insight into the indigenous people as well as original explorers who settled America. Much like Howard Zinn's work the author captures the stories of those who historians often overlook as well as the unvarnished truth as related to how cruel were many of our European ancestors. The history here is very readable and well researched and serves as an i...
  • John
    I had to read this for my comps list, and it confirmed my earlier opinion (based on skimming). This would work really well as a basic text for the sort of early American history class that I would like to teach. Taylor adopts an Atlantic World/North American approach, so he provides the history of New Spain and New France, as well as the English colonies, and he doesn't limit himself to only the English colonies that became the first thirteen sta...
  • Dimitri
    The colonial history of a continent as opposed to of the English colonisation. In other words, nicely rounded and preferential to any accounts in the tradition of Manifest Destiny. The vision of a segmented landmass along the lines of the French and Spanish spheres is not outside the realm of historical possibility.
  • John E
    A fine multicultural history of the movement of European people and ideas to the Americas with the resulting drastic changes to the indeginous people and landscapes. Well worth the time to read.
  • Jerome
    A comprehensive, well-written history of the American colonies. The narrative is clear, sweeping and thorough, and Taylor describes the differing motives of the European powers, the history of the colonists, and the experience of the local Indians. The maps are good.Taylor begins with the closing of European trade routes to the east by the Ottoman Empire, and describes how this led Europeans to search for a route west. He describes the settling o...
  • Chris
    Taylor has written an excellent and thorough account of the settlement of the the North American continent. He begins with the migration of peoples across the Bering Strait from Siberia around 15,000 years ago and their expansion southward into what is now the United States. When French, English, Spanish and Dutch colonists along with African slaves began arriving in the 16th and 17th centuries, all of these groups were forced to interact with ea...
  • Faith Williams
    Taylor has written an incredibly thorough and expansive survey of the settling of the North American continent. Don't be fooled by the cover; this book does not just focus on the 13 "American Colonies" that most think of when they hear the phrase. Taylor covers literally all of North American history and exploration to about 1820. He organizes his survey not by timeline but by subject and by geographical area. This can cause some confusion if you...
  • Mark
    This book is not just about the original 13 colonies. It lays a groundwork of events and and motivations in Europe, Asia, and Africa that spawned exploration and discovery, and the need and/or desire to establish colonies in the new-found lands. It explores the native cultures encountered by the Europeans, and how each culture affected the other.And then, it just keeps building on that through time and space. As noted in the title, this book is a...
  • Joseph Stieb
    I never thought I could really get into colonial history until I read this book. It's incredibly detailed, engrossing, and basically fair in its perspective. Taylor is a classic myth-buster historian, but he doesn't ridicule the myth-makers or believers. Rather, he busts myths on both the European and native sides of history. Taylor gives you a fascinating overview of the scope of different kinds of colonies, from Caribbean slave colonies to Virg...
  • Jordan
    Insightful would be the best term I could use for this title. One of the biggest insights for me was how the Caribbean came to be the precursor to the Carolinas. The author does have a tendency to repeat points in a general sense toward religious and human nature issues notwithstanding the chapter i.e. the colonial power be they Spanish, British, French, Russian, etc. That said, the points seem valid. I would definitely suggest this book to anybo...
  • Pete daPixie
    Oh man! What a wonderful book. 13,000 B.C. to 1780 A.D. Part of the story of the settling of N. America involves the histories of Spain, England, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Russia, Africa and S. America.I just didn't want this story to end. Alan Taylor (2001) has produced a monumental piece of work here. The importance of N. America's native tribes goes hand in hand with the colonial struggle...
  • James
    What it says on the cover. Which ends up being an odd read (in a good way) -- this covers every colonial venture in North America, including the ones we tend to forget (Russia!), but excludes anything after a colony has turned into a nation. So you get the Eastern Seaboard up to 1776, but another half century for the west coast .. and you get the conquest of the Aztecs, but nothing on the Incas. Helpful to me to put various things I'd read in iso...
  • Ross
    how to justify giving a survey five stars? even though the writing is never especially beautiful, it's never clumsy and it's not too repetitive. to me, that's a pretty big achievement. and the breadth and depth of the book is incredibly satisfying. taylor gives a nice contextual background to europe and north american before 1492, and then manages to cover the english, french, spanish, dutch, and even russian empires as well as dozens of native c...
  • Luis
    A close look at American history before the United States. Most people are familiar with British, American, and even Spanish colonization. But we don't often get much information about the various Native American tribes and how they interacted with each other and with the colonizers. We also get a glimpse of others like the Dutch, Swedes, and Russians, as well as becoming more familiar with the colonization of Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada. This boo...
  • Jonathan
    A very fine introduction to colonial North America. While the author's relentless PC is occasionally annoying - yes we understand that women couldn't vote and that there were slaves after the eighth or tenth time - his thorough and wide-ranging approach to how the various colonies were founded and developed gives the reader a complete picture, combining politics, economics, social conditions and how the colonies interacted with the Indians, the m...
  • Bryan Cebulski
    Though Taylor takes on an intimidating amount of colonial American history, often sacrificing close study of historical figures and events for the sake of covering ground, he manages to make it smooth, readable and interesting. His emphasis on seeing colonialism through the eyes of First Nations' people, African slaves and indentured servants are certainly worthy reasons for reading this book. In general, Taylor carefully balances perspectives to...
  • Oliver Bateman
    An excellent single volume history. Why assign a textbook for your US to 1865 class when you've got a wonderfully written teaching tool like this one? Taylor occasionally lapses into value judgments--the Spanish failed because of this, the English succeeded because of this, etc.--but for the most part keeps his narrative clear of teleological explanations and makes good use of much recent scholarship.
  • Kathryn Walters
    I loved reading this for my Colonial North America class! It's incredibly readable, for a history book :) I liked how it paid significant attention to the role of Native Americans in the foundation of our country. I learned so much from this class, and this book bears some of the responsibility!
  • Estelle Champlain
    Taylor gives a general overview of Early Colonial America. This books is good for someone who wants to understand the basics but is not too interested in details. There are no footnotes, however the bibliography is extensive.
  • Marie
    Best book for comps and for teaching.
  • Elizabeth Henry
    Unbiased history with fresh perspectives neither completely favoring or criminalizing the Europeans, the Natives, or the Africans. Thorough, thoughtful, challenging, & beautifully written.
  • Dee
    I'm reading this for my class. I'm hoping for some interesting anecdotes to sprinkle into my lectures on North American colonization. So far, it's pretty dry.