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Drums Along the Mohawk

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  521 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of Drums along the Mohawk reminds us not only that Edmonds’s masterpiece is the best historical novel about Upstate New York since James Fenimore Cooper but also that it was number one on the best-seller list until overtaken by Gone With the Wind.

This is the story of the forgotten pioneers of the Mohawk Valley during the Rev
Paperback, 608 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Syracuse University Press (first published 1936)
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Bubbamike It needs some adult guidance. There is regular use of the "N" word and while there are no explicit sex scenes there is a lot of mentioning of sex.…moreIt needs some adult guidance. There is regular use of the "N" word and while there are no explicit sex scenes there is a lot of mentioning of sex. Some historical context about settlement in the Mohawk Valley would also be very useful. Aside from those points this is a very good tale about the conflict during the Revolutionary war.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,134)
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Mar 21, 2009 Werner rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of historical fiction
Written in a solidly Realist style, this novel was part of the vanguard of the introduction of the Realist school to the historical fiction genre; as late as the early 1900s, Realist writers and critics such as Frank Norris (who roundly condemned Sarah Orne Jewett as a traitor to the movement for writing a novel set during the Revolutionary War) were still dogmatically committed to the view that the present was the only proper setting for serious literature. It also reflects a strong new current ...more
Nov 18, 2007 Kitty rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
This should be required reading for New York state grammar or high school students the year they study the Revolutionary War. It follows a young couple and their community throughout the war period. The battles, betrayals, babies born and lost, farms and houses burned, people and animals slaughtered, solders killed and captured, daring raids, prisoners of war, native friends and foes, are portrayed in a clear prose style. The stories of historical and fictional characters weave together. I finis ...more
Nearly 80 years old, this classic is still enjoyable. I didn't feel it was dated. but for the heavy dialect of the black servant, Daisy, and the Tonto-like laconic talk of Blue Back, the Indian scout. It's the story of a farmer and his wife and their community in the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York in the 18th century. We experience the hardscrabble life of these characters and a feel for the American Revolution as fought in this area, along with Indian attacks and destruction. Very readable, ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Matt rated it liked it
I first stumbled upon the works of Walter D. Edmonds when I was in fourth grade and attending public school at Ridgeview Elementary in Bloomington, Minnesota (the next year I went to Catholic school, and remained in Catholic schools until graduating law school, which has left me a debt I will literally never repay). In those pre-Amazon days, students would receive monthly order forms from Troll Books. I - rather, my mom - ordered Edmonds' The Matchlock Gun, which I eagerly devoured with sweaty p ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is great old-school story-telling and great historical fiction. There's so much going on. You certainly get caught up with the characters, most of them not fictionalized but real historical people, as are most of the events in the book. But it's the whole world-view that I found so powerful. The frontier of early America not the West, as it would later be and forever remain in our national imagination, but upstate New York. That was a revelation. And what the Revolutionary War was like foug ...more
Jul 28, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Whenever I go back to a book the second time, or when I go back to read a book again after seeing the movie, I know that somewhere in the experience of reading or watching there must be a kernel of truth, a hook or a moment that has great meaning to me. This book should have great meaning to anyone living in upstate NY, for it is our history that is relived here.

Syracuse, where I now live, was still Indian territory and Herkimer was the western frontier of the colonies at the time of the revolu
Aug 28, 2010 Beakerkin rated it it was amazing
An amazing experience that can be enhanced with reading Forgotten
Allies about the role of the Oneidas in the Battle of Oriskany.
The familiar movie with Henry Fonda does not match the fine book in style or substance.

I have read several articles about the Battle of Oriskany and the author is amazingly accurate with the exception of not giving ample credit to the Oneidas for their bravery and sacrafice.
Sep 18, 2014 Libby rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel about the American Revolution along the New York frontier. It was made into a horrible Hollywood movie which is a parody of the depth of history in the novel. I knew almost nothing about this part of the war before I read the book and found it fascinating. The author goes into quite a lot of detail so that you really get a feel for what it would be like to live as a settler in those times in upper New York state. There were some unfortunate aspects to the book, such a ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Dianeh rated it it was amazing
First, I have to state that historical fiction is my favorite genre especially books from the American Colonial period. My love of this genre started when I was about 12 years old and read "Johnny Tremain"! So I was predisposed to love "Drums Along the Mohawk". And I did love it. It fascinates me how the people of that era survived the life style. It seems such a hard life to me. The life in the New York area with Tories and Indians attacking at will while trying to live a productive, grueling l ...more
Jacquelin Devlin
Excellent. Since I now live in the Mohawk Valley and all the place names are familiar to me, this book really came alive. Edmonds packs in the history and develops his characters as well. I now scan the woods for Indians. Seriously, the valley has not changed all that much. It's still largely farmed, population is scarce(compared to shoreline Connecticut)and the family names are still the same. Only weeks ago, the Palatine Church re-enacted the wedding of Gil and Lana Martin, not unusual for an ...more
Sarah Sammis
May 04, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
One of those American classics that should be read.
Norman Draper
Jun 24, 2015 Norman Draper rated it really liked it
Decent, though too long, tale of warfare along the New York frontier during the American Revolution. As much a story of conquering the woods as it is of raids and counter raids. Characters are a bit flat. Reads like a book written in 1936; that is to say somewhat sanitized, and not a timeless work. Still, the setting and story of young farmers trying to eke a living out of the receding wilderness makes it a worthwhile read. It does clearly show that, in some parts of the country, the Revolution ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Jerry rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book, well written and recommended. I think it would appeal to readers who are familiar with the older styles of fiction writing as practiced in the 1930's and 1940's. I also think the story is paced well, somewhat slow in begining to be sure, but the characters are developed with a casual fullness and simplicity that allows the reader to relax and be told a story. This is storytelling for adults meaning that it is not altogether sanitized, the violence and sex are purpose ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
I have passed by this book a dozen times in the library. I'm not sure what finally prompted me to pick it up, but I am glad that I did. Drums Along the Mohawk is a fine example of historical fiction; one of the best I've ever read. It was on the best seller list for two years back in the 1930s, and it was turned into a Hollywood film staring Henry Fonda back in 1939.

The story takes place during the Revolutionary War in New York's Mohawk Valley. I actually visited the the site of one of the majo
May 31, 2015 Meghan rated it really liked it
An account of a well-known time in a little-known area: the Mohawk valley near Schenectady during the Revolutionary War. Balancing acts of war and wilderness, Edmonds successfully re-creates conditions and incredible feats of human determination. You will be surprised that many of the exploits narrated in the book actually happened. An enjoyable introduction by Gabaldon and a forward by the author complement the story well.
Sep 11, 2012 Roseyreads rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseyreads by: my college roommate who liked it very much
After taking at least a week off from reading this book, I finished it on 8/22/12! What took place during the Revolutionary War in that part of New York was something I had never known but as another person has said in their review the repetition got hard to take. I did not like Edmonds writing but it was easy to speed read it, which I forced myself to do at times just to get through it. Favorite part was John Wolff's escape from prison and I was pleased that he reappeared near the end of the bo ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Ellie rated it it was amazing
This is historical fiction at its best. I wonder if it would be as appealing to me if I weren't so familiar with the region and its history already, but I found this story eminently readable. I am glad I finally caught up with this classic.
Al Gritten
Sep 08, 2010 Al Gritten rated it liked it
The historical backdrop was very well done and overall it was a pretty good read. It did get a little tedious in places as the author had to pull all the colateral stories into line with the main characters. I felt like he could have told the story just as well in less pages if he had simply left out some of the irrelevant details of the secondary characters and plots. Having said that, it was a good story of the impact of the Revolutionary War on the people who were on the edges of the war and ...more
Jenica Love
Oct 13, 2008 Jenica Love rated it liked it
I told my father I was curious to know more about my ancestry and he told me to read this. He also said that we are decended from Col. Bellinger, in the story. This is what made me willing to read a book about war which is otherwise so uncharacteristic of me. What I have enjoyed about the book is learning about the life in the German flats area, the people of that time were such hard workers. What I have not enjoyed is the decriptions of violence, the racism and sexism. Overall, I think it is a ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it
I've read this several times and always loved it.
Mar 27, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
Fascinating book if you are interested in history. As I read last night about the Indian raids it reminded me of a family story. My ancestor recorded a move away because his view of valley showed the farms being burned one by one in the distance. This historical novel, based on fact , takes place 1777 during the American Revolution. Every genealogist needs to read this book recording settlement in the mohawk Valley of New Yourk, heavily populated with german immigrants.
Sep 09, 2013 Joshua rated it did not like it
Alas, and lackaday, this book has me sorely vexed and disappointed!
The story has so much potential but falls short of that.
There is a lot of foul language making the story historically inaccurate. There was probably some language like that back, then but not in the quantity that this book has! The characters would have been severely rebuked for having such a foul mouth, realistically.
The violence, also is too graphic.
So, I'm not going to finish reading this book. :(
Watch the 1939 movie, it's WAY
Sep 02, 2012 Denise rated it it was ok
I have been working on Revoluntion books this year and honestly they have all been a struggle. This one was no diffrent. I had to start speed reading by the 300th page or so. I wanted to give it a chance and finish it, but I had to start skiping to get to the end. It has some wonder looks into history yet some how I was left cold, if I just sat and read by the end of the reading time I was back 'into' the book more It simply was not a book I looked forward to starting after not reading a while. ...more
Lynn Pribus
Oct 30, 2012 Lynn Pribus rated it liked it
This one dates way back. Since I lived in upstate New York from about age ten until I left for college, New York history was interesting. (Every seventh grader in the state took "Exploring New York State" for the school year. We had to make a huge map of the state listing cities and their products: Canajoharie, gum and baby food: Yonkers, elevators, Gloversville (guess what), etc. etc.

But when the story is set back in the "olden days," it can be told in 1936 or 2006...
Classic story of the American Revolution. When I read books like this, I think what a coward I would have been in the shoes of these early settlers.

The book bogs down in the middle where it seems to be repeating itself but I guess that's because the characters were repeatedly attacked and had to keep running to the fort for cover. I recently watched the old movie version of this and it was also good but very streamlined.
Monte Lamb
Aug 15, 2010 Monte Lamb rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
This book on what life was like on the NY frontier during the Revolutionary War moved too slow for me. It did give a good representation of all the difficultied involved in just trying to live, raise a family, and farm the land. However, the style made for slow reading and I had some problems keeping all the characters straight when they re-entered the story later in the book.
Nov 29, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-list
Finally it's over. We read this at my husband's recommendation with our history buff 9 year old and I had to explain alot of "historical context" (e,g., racism, sexism, brutal violence, rape). The first 2/3 of the book was not very interesting; too much information about domestic life. The story improved as the battles picked up but I did not enjoy this book at all.
Dec 27, 2007 Anne rated it liked it
This book had a slow start, but I really enjoyed it. I might be a little biased because I have a bunch of ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, though, and one of them even got mentioned a few times in the book. I found it kind of fascinating to get a glimpse of what their life might have been like back when New Hampshire and Vermont were the frontier.
James Eckman
Aug 17, 2014 James Eckman rated it liked it
This was one of the early blockbusters, only be surpassed by Gone With the Wind a bit later on. While in many ways still a good story, some of the 30's attitudes come through and it feels a bit dated. Some of this is probably intentional, but some was probably just assumed. I don't think it's a classic as some have claimed.
Dec 03, 2013 Linda added it
Every native upstate New Yorker should make the time to read this historical fiction novel. I enjoy taking long rides in the country here...never having thought much about the people who came before me. It took hold of me. It's given me new perspective on how life was not taken for granted until quite recently. Excellent.
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Why is the author listed as James Fenimore Cooper on the book cover? 1 19 Feb 02, 2009 04:13PM  
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Walter D. Edmonds has been a National Book Award winner and recipient of the Newbery Medal. He is the author of Bert Breen’s Barn, The Boyds of Black River, In the Hands of the Senecas, Mostly Canallers, Rome Haul, Time to Go House, and most recently the autobiographical Tales My Father Never Told, all available from Syracuse University Press.
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