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American Colonies (The Penguin History of the United States #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,674 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
In American Colonies award-winning historian Alan Taylor challenges the traditional Anglocentric focus of colonial history by exploring the multitude of cultural influences out of which "America" ultimately emerged. From the Siberian migrations across the Bering Strait fifteen thousand years ago and the European expeditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries throu ...more
Hardcover, 526 pages
Published November 12th 2001 by Viking Adult (first published 2001)
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Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 lofty historical survey insinuates an abstraction, a detac ...more
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 bountiful history book. It abounds in scope, reada ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 British, the French, the Spanish and for a brief p
Fred R
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 truth in the universe is connected somehow to ever
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 demographics between the mother country and the c ...more
Justin Evans
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
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 spades.

A friend has done an excellent review of this
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 states. The Caribbean colonies play an important role ...more
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
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oxford-history
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 French, the British, and the Spanish. Because of ...more
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Alan Shaw Taylor is a historian specializing in early American history. He is the author of a number of books about colonial America, the American Revolution, and the Early American Republic. He has won a Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for his work.

Taylor graduated from Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, in 1977 and earned his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1986. Currently a professor
More about Alan Taylor...

Other Books in the Series

The Penguin History of the United States (3 books)
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