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The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,497 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.

As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United State
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Diane Holzapfel yes..initially the Native Americans were not viewed as the enemy..the encroachment by the settlers into their territory led to Indian attacks as more…moreyes..initially the Native Americans were not viewed as the enemy..the encroachment by the settlers into their territory led to Indian attacks as more people arrived and more land was claimed..eventually there were terrible massacres, leading to reprisals and eventually the Indians were relocated West..sad for both sides (less)
Cindy Schilling No, this book is about the Northwest Territory that was established after the American Revolution, and consisted of the present-day states of Ohio,…moreNo, this book is about the Northwest Territory that was established after the American Revolution, and consisted of the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The focus is on the history of Marietta, Ohio. (less)

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3.81  · 
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 ·  1,497 ratings  ·  267 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
2.5 There were parts I enjoyed, but parts that were flitting all over the place. I have been to Marietta, many times. Love it there, so it was interesting to see how it was named. Also the settling of parts of the country I had never read before. Strange to think that when my state, Illinois was admitted into the union in 1818, the total population was only 36,000. Enjoyed the ending parts with John Quincy Adams, that was touching. As a cohesive whole though, I found it lacking. There were so ma ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Going into this book with little information, I picked it up based on the merits of David McCullough’s earlier books. From the start, I was immediately struck by its excessive quantity of detail, the multitude of individuals referred to and that the prose did not flow well. I went to Simon & Schuster’s book website, searching for clarity:

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territ
May 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is infuriating. The fact that books that are so blatantly offensive towards Indigenous people can still be published in 2019 is disgusting. This book ignores decades of scholarship by Native and allied historians of the region in favor of nationalist propaganda. Skip this and read Susan Sleeper-Smith's book Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest instead, which covers the Ohio River valley in a similar time period and argues that far from being a "primeval wilderness," this region ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
David McCullough always writes appealing books and this one (read from an eARC provided by Edelweiss) does not disappoint. I've always learned from his books but this one was on a subject that I was not at all acquainted with: the first American settlements in the Ohio territory. I knew that the Ohio territory was the first 'west' that Americans went flocking to but no other details and I even ended up hauling out an atlas so I could figure out where exactly these first pioneers settled.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s always a treat to have a new David McCullough book! In The Pioneers, he tells the story of the early settlers of the Ohio River Valley, from those who first moved to the frontier and broke land to those who created communities and governing bodies. While the story he tells is specific, focusing on particular families and the region that is now Marietta, Ohio, it gave me a great sense of the changes and movements of those early years of 19th century-America – and how they were linked to our ...more
David Eppenstein
Objectively this is a good book but it disappointed me. Since it did disappoint me I should be giving it two stars instead of three but my disappointment might be somewhat unfair and subjective so I give it three in recognition of my failings and not the author's. When this book's publication was being promoted it caught my immediate attention. McCullough is certainly no lightweight historian and the subject of the Northwest Territory and its early settlers was an intriguing subject. I read Alla ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unfortunately, especially in this day and age, people want their beliefs and their political messages/rhetoric justified in every book they read (or don't read for that matter). The reviews/ratings for this book will surely reflect that, since revisiting well known early Americans and their roles in Native American treatment and slavery are hot topics today. Westward expansion hits on both topics.

McCullough has never pandered to this political crowd (on either side), and this book is no differen
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Note: I received the ARC of this book
Secondary note: this review has been re-written after seeing the final dust cover.

I liked this book. I think McCullough does a unique, interesting take on American history by focusing on one specific town in Ohio as an example of what the west was like at the end of the 1700s and up until the Civil War. It was a fascinating read.

That said, I didn't have the final dust jacket blurb when I read the ARC. I thought it was going to be about the entire northwest te
Christopher S.
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David McCullough is a national treasure. There, I said it. I am a McCullough fan without apology or reservation. There are certain authors that you simply read whatever they write. Period. David McCullough is one of those authors for me. And yes, did I say it? He is a national treasure.

“The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West” by David McCullough is a history of the brave and hardy men and women who left New England to stake their claim in the Northwest
Brian Willis
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
In many ways, this book is a biography of the town of Marietta, Ohio, and the settlers who relocated there after the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The NWO usually gets a paragraph or two in other history books, nearly a footnote to the Constitutional Convention and other developments of the era. By charting Marietta from 1787-1863 (the death of the last of his subjects in the book), we see how the freedom granted by the NWO allowed settlers to push US boundaries westward.

David McCullough never di
Scott  Hitchcock
I've read a few books by the author and to this point all had been good but this read like a text book and kept making me fall asleep or at least tune out.
Heather Bennett
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
David McCullough is a fabulous historical author who does a lot of research for his books. His books are always rich in historical detail and wonderful characters.
Elliott Petty
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Pardon the double negative, but I didn’t NOT like this book. I just wasn’t gripped with this book like other McCullough biographies and histories.
Cynthia Egbert
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, own-and-read
Well, this should not have been given such a sweeping title because it is really only the story of the small town of Marietta, Ohio, the first town settled after passage of the Northwest Ordinance. This is extremely detailed about a few families but that is all and so to title it "The Pioneers" is a bit misleading. This one is not one of McCullough's more compelling works but the audio presentation is decent. I did come away with a new understanding of Manasseh Cutler, who has always fascinated ...more
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lots of new information for me in this book. Before I read it, I never thought of Ohio as the northwest territory. I always believed it was Oregon and Washington . A good surprise though, to learn how a handful of visionaries imported New England to Marietta Ohio (another town I knew nothing about). As usual with Mculloch’s books, he shows how key players and events shaped the drive for education and the fight against slavery. This was a very informative book.
Casey Wheeler
This book was a disappointment in that it is not up to the standards that I have come to expect from the author. The book focuses on the early settlement of the northwest which in the time period covered (1787-1863) means Ohio. In particular it covers the founding and settlement of Marietta, Ohio. It revolves around four families during the time period - Cutlers, Putnams, Barkers and Hildreths. While the book does an adequate job of describing what took place, I felt that there was much more to ...more
I'm usually a fan of McCullough, but this one bogged me down in measurements, etc. Didn't finish.
Jan Polep
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I can't believe I read the whole thing...well I did skip around a bit...but it was mostly news to me as I wasn't a star student of American history in school. This non-fiction follows 5 men who were important in shaping the Northwest Territory, in particular, Ohio. Set from 1787-1863, the book is a glimpse at life along the Ohio River told with the aid of letters, diaries, newspapers, government documents. If your family history includes Ohio, this one is especially for you.
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Desperate and dreary. The worst McCullough I have ever read.
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
McCullough does a good job in telling a story that was not familiar to me. Manasseh Cutler, Rufus Putnam, Ephraim Cutler, Samuel Hildreth....and their story of settling the Northwest Territory, specifically Marietta, Ohio. Manasseh Cutler was a doctor of medicine, a doctor of law and a doctor of divinity and a botanist. He was adamant about creating a Northwest Ordinance for the new to be settled lands (future Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin). The new lands would have no slaves and ...more
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
I can't get into this book... (feels like McCullough fell in love with Cutler's journal while researching another book and just wanted to write about his life.) Maybe I'll come back to it but meanwhile I have other library books to listen to.
Ash Jogalekar
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
With his characteristically warm and light touch, famed historian David McCullough brings us the quintessentially American story of the pioneers who settled the frontier north and west of the Ohio River. As he has done in his other books, he tells the story through a handful of remarkable characters. McCullough’s style is always inspiring and he’s a humane and sensitive storyteller, although readers who want a more complex treatment filled with details would have to supplement the narrative with ...more
Sean Kottke
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I'm of two minds on this book. The short take is that it fits snugly within McCullough's body of work on the American story, and is as engagingly written as I've come to expect from him. I picked it up chiefly for a single personal reason: I happened to be visiting the campus of Marietta College while McCullough was in residence there researching this book, and was eager to see what came of it.

What bothers me is that the story is incomplete. The Native American populations already living in the
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Disclaimer: I'm not that terribly interested in American history; my husband is the historian in the family, and he recommended the author when I was looking for audio books to listen to on a road trip. I didn't have my reading glasses with me in the library when I checked it out, so I missed the tiny print on the back that said it was mostly about the settling of one town (Marietta, OH); I thought it was more of a epic real life-history tale about how the Northwest Territory became part of the ...more
Bobby  Title
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read and enjoyed a number of David McCullough’s books; my particular favorite has been his "Mornings on Horseback."

What caught my eye about this new book was, frankly, not so much the subject matter but of all things, the very interesting cover picture of a flatboat! I knew from a family story that a long time ago my great-grandma Nancy’s whole family, well over a dozen Virginians, came to Missouri on such a raft, or more probably, rafts.

What drew me to McCullough’s new book was thinking
Joseph Sciuto
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David McCullough's "The Pioneers" is simply wonderful. Mr. McCullough is among a group of historians you have literally changed American history over the last half-century. What I learned in high school and college back in the 70's and 80's, is to a large extent irrelevant, so completely has the revision been, and continues to be.

"The Pioneers"is the story of the settling of the Northwest territory (Ohio) by a group of conscientious, hard working pioneers... Many of who were members of the Revol
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This book isn't bad and David McCullough is obviously does a lot of research, but clearly his books aren't for me. There's something about his writing that bothers me and I don't really know to put my finger on it. There were several instances in the book where McCullough would be writing about one thing and then randomly end the paragraph with a sentence about something else. Another thing, I don't feel as though the pioneers described should be called "heroic." I would classify this under a fo ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, history-u-s
McCullough is a national treasure. I so much love his story-telling style that I often tell my family that I would read anything he wrote, no matter the subject. This one put me to the test, since I am somewhat sensitive to the history of the systematic removal of Native Americans by force of violence, especially when the story is told from the perspective of the white “settlers.” Nevertheless, Pioneers was a worthy read. The ideals of freedom of religion, free education for all, and unwavering ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Had some good parts but was kinda pieced together accounts of early years settling in Ohio. The most compelling statement, I found, was the Indians saying the land belonged to all then turning around and killing all the game within 20 miles of new white settlement and scalping white people in great quantities. An interesting account of Ohio as thick forests and how white people struggled to establish themselves there. I had no idea.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great book by David McCullough. This book could be subtitled, the history of Ohio's founding. The story follows the first waves of pioneers to leave the east (primarily Massachusetts) for the Northwest Territory, centered around Marietta, Ohio. McCullough tells the story of the growth of Marietta and other Ohio cities along the rivers, especially the Ohio River, from the 1780s to just before the Civil War. A lot of interesting characters people this story -- not only the settlers, but Aa ...more
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Pioneers by David McCullough 1 1 Jun 11, 2019 04:50PM  
David McCullough is a Yale-educated, two-time recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize (Truman; John Adams) and the National Book Award (The Path Between the Seas; Mornings on Horseback). His many other highly-acclaimed works of historical non-fiction include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, The Wright Brothers, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the Nation ...more
“On the matter of advancing age, he liked to say, “My sun is far past its meridian.” 1 likes
“At home, the Barker children were being raised, as one daughter, Catherine, would remember, “to be useful, to be pleasant with our playmates, respectful to superiors, just to all, black or white, good to the poor not showing pride or selfishness but kindness and good will . . . and to see to it that we looked to our own, more than to others’ faults.” 1 likes
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