The First Frontier
The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America
By Scott Weidensaul
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151015153, 496pp.)
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
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Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Custer or Lewis and Clark, before the first Conestoga wagons rumbled across the Plains, it was the East that marked the frontier—the boundary between complex Native cultures and the first colonizing Europeans.
Here is the older, wilder, darker history of a time when the land between the Atlantic and the Appalachians was contested ground—when radically different societies adopted and adapted the ways of the other, while struggling for control of what all considered to be their land.
The First Frontier traces two and a half centuries of history through poignant, mostly unheralded personal stories—like that of a Harvard-educated Indian caught up in seventeenth-century civil warfare, a mixed-blood interpreter trying to straddle his white and Native heritage, and a Puritan woman wielding a scalping knife whose bloody deeds still resonate uneasily today. It is the first book in years to paint a sweeping picture of the Eastern frontier, combining vivid storytelling with the latest research to bring to life modern America’s tumultuous, uncertain beginnings.
Author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul, who grew up in the heart of the old Eastern frontier, has written more than two dozen books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds.