Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts
America began, we are often told, with the Founding Fathers, the men who waged a revolution and created a unique place called the United States. We may acknowledge the early Jamestown and Puritan colonists and mourn the dispossession of Native Americans, but we rarely grapple with the complexity of the nation s pre-revolutionary past. In this pathbreaking revision, Daniel...more
Hardcover, 502 pages
Published April 25th 2011 by Belknap Press
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Perhaps a little over-ambitious, this book covers everything from pre-1492 up until the Stamp Act of 1765. An excellent amount of detail for a history of several centuries, it suffers from attempting to cover everything and as a result doesn't master any particular subject. Tries to be very comprehensive but at the same time assumes that readers know more than most casual readers probably would.
Daniel Richter, professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania, makes a unique and important contribution to early American history by delving into America’s “Ancient Pasts” to reveal layers of history that shaped the nation’s tumultuous years before the American Revolution. Drawing on original sources that include telling quotations, Richter challenges the Anglo centric idea that American history begins with English arrival to the continent. Indeed, as he argues, colonial Ameri...more
Published ten years after his speculative thoughts in Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel Richter’s Before the Revolution is an attempted synthesis of the new scholarship on Native-American history and the colonization of North America by Europeans that attempts to draw together North American, European and African history. One of Richter’s more interesting choices in the work is to use the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age as devices, showing how Medieval Europe and the concurrent...more
The detail on offer is remarkable. But I felt the author was trying too hard to force a thesis in several parts of the book. The book is best by far, or at least most interested me, when the author (1) sketched out extended economic relationships between disparate native and European colonial groups and (2) explored the role of European manufactured goods and control over access to the as a source or prestige, status, and political power in native societies,
This book is a summary of the North American and Atlantic history "before the Revolution", as the title states. What is the most helpful about Richter's history are the important connections he makes between better know events (Puritans-Reformation; culture of Native Americans, etc). the layout is excellent and easy to follow. He does a great job explaining what events shaped the thinking and actions of those who colonized North America, as well as the native inhabitants. My only complaint is th...more
New argument into America's Founding. I enjoyed the research into America's ancient past and its connection to fuedal Europe and feudal America. Ricter is a hell of a writer and his research is impeccable .
Tackling the issues concerning the bonds between the people living on different sides of the Atlantic, Before the Revolution doesn't give any information about Africa, which had an equally important role in shaping today's Atlantic relations. Other than that, I kind of enjoyed it despite being a fan of "after" the revolution.