In that pivotal year, the Spanish established the first European colony in San Francisco and set off a cataclysm for the region s native residents. The Russians pushed into Alaska in search of valuable sea otters, devastating local Aleut communities.Read more...
In that pivotal year, the Spanish established the first European colony in San Francisco and set off a cataclysm for the region s native residents. The Russians pushed into Alaska in search of valuable sea otters, devastating local Aleut communities. And the British extended their fur trade from Hudson Bay deep into the continent, sparking an environmental revolution that transformed America s boreal forests.
While imperial officials in distant Europe maneuvered to control lands they knew almost nothing about, America's indigenous peoples sought their own advantage. Creek Indians navigated the Caribbean to explore trade with Cuba. The Osages expanded their dominion west of the Mississippi River, overwhelming the small Spanish outposts in the area. And the Sioux advanced across the Dakotas. One traditional Sioux history states that they first seized the Black Hills, the territory they now consider their sacred homeland, in 1776. "Two nations were born that year," Saunt writes. The native one would win its final military victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn one hundred years later.
From the Aleutian Islands to the Gulf Coast and across the oceans to Europe s imperial capitals, Saunt s masterfully researched narrative reveals an interconnected web of history that spans not just the forgotten parts of North America but the entire globe.
Richly illustrated, with maps that reenvision a familiar landscape, West of the Revolution explores a turbulent continent in a year of many revolutions."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-10
- Reviewer: Staff
This work adds to a growing library of untraditional histories that incorporate everyone who’s had anything to do with the formation of the United States. Saunt, a University of Georgia history professor and noted expert on American Indians, asks a simple question: what was going on around 1776 in the territories that became the U.S.? That is, what’s the story on this continent when you leave out the Revolutionary War, which he scarcely mentions? It turns out that much was going on, and many different peoples—primarily the French, Spanish, Russians, and Native tribes—were involved in the lands west of the Appalachians, contesting for land, power, empire, and riches. The declaration of the colonists’ independence, of huge future significance, was scarcely noticed there. Missionaries, explorers, land-hungry speculators, and scalawags, many of whom most readers will never have heard of, continued their rivalries for faith, country, and self-interest, thus making a stew of ambitions on the North American continent. Saunt’s lively prose highlights the extent of this mess, but unfortunately, it’s hard to know what to conclude from his pastiche, or how it affects our knowledge of the Revolutionary period. Regardless, no one who reads it will think of 1776 the same way again. Maps & illus. (June)