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The Americans: The Colonial Experience Paperback – Mar 12 1964

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 12 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394705130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394705132
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #489,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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The first book in a trilogy--and in many respects the best of the bunch--The Colonial Experience is an essential interpretation of how the habits of people who lived more than two centuries ago shaped the lives of modern Americans. Boorstin shows how an undiscovered continent shattered long-standing traditions and utopian fantasies with the hard demands of everyday life far from the sophisticated centers of European civilization: "Old categories were shaken up, and new situations revealed unsuspected uses for old knowledge," writes Boorstin. He starts with a series of penetrating essays on the Puritans of Massachusetts, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the philanthropists of Georgia, and the planters of Virginia, then tackles a set of diffuse topics that range from astronomy to language to medicine in fascinating vignettes.

The Colonial Experience is must reading for anybody interested in the development of the American character. --John J. Miller

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Bancroft Prize. "A superb panorama of life in America from the first settlements on through the white hot days of the Revolution." - Bruce Lancaster, Saturday Review

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Format: Paperback
When Boorstin named his epic trilogy The Americans rather than American History or History of the American People, he greeted the reader with a different approach to history. He arranged his brief chapters thematically rather than chronologically, while maintaining a high level of detail, and thus created a masterwork of compression, a talent Boorstin repeated later in The Creators and The Discoverers.
Volume One covers the American experience from the New England colonies through the War for Independence. The thematic approach might suggest that the question, "What is an American?" can be answered by a grocery list of ideas. Yet if there is one truth about Americans it is that they reveal themselves more in doing than in philosophizing. Unburdened by the systematizing of the European ideologue, they demonstrate repeatedly that they are among the most tolerant people who have inhabited the earth.
For Massachusetts Puritans, orthodoxy and tradition had solved most theoretical questions, freeing them from the theological debates of their European counterparts. The Virginia aristocrats, a remarkable pool of talent, applied the practical skills of running a plantation to running a colony, creating a haven of toleration and rapid growth. By contrast, the fanaticism, utopianism, and pacifism of the Quakers failed to protect Pennsylvania from Indian attacks and drove the Quakers from power. Good intentions did nothing to fix the failed humanitarianism of the Georgia colony.
Americans were great naturalists, learning by experience, experiment, and the evidence of the senses. Where books existed at all, they were more likely to be farming almanacs or medical manuals than heavy tomes in literature or metaphysics.
Americans were least likely to wage war over sacred land or a Bible verse.
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By A Customer on Aug. 30 1998
Format: Paperback
Well... being a seventeen-year-old and not real big on reading, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has seen "Dumb and Dumber" more than once and believes that it deserves every award that it qualifies for--like I do. This book is more for those who are in or past college and have decided that they want to "experience" American history in a more in-depth perspective (to those my age: I'm not implying VR). It is, however, well written. Daniel Boorstin did a great job and kudos to him. He definitely deserved the accolade which came in the form of the Bancroft Prize--but I still don't like it. Nevertheless, I finished the book--eventhough I have chronic thoughts about burning it--but only because it was a mandatory assignment and required an essay. If you have enough courage and are willing to purchase this book, you better have a lot of patience (and make sure to hide the matches).
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Format: Paperback
Boorstin examines the influences Old World ideas had on the New World of America. He pays close attention to how the Old World ideas were transplanted and changed in America. Boorstin demonstrates that this change was present with most every institution or idea brought from Europe to America. The Americans is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, a prestigious award for works in History. And rightly so. Boorstin's The Colonial Experience is extremely well organized, thorough, and related the history of America to me in a contemporary style. I applaud Boorstin, for he has succeeded in writing an excellent book on the history of early America that even a fledgling history student, like myself, could fully grasp without losing any detail.
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By A Customer on Aug. 27 1999
Format: Paperback
This portrait of different aspects of colonial American social and governmental tendencies is a very interesting read. Mr. Boorstin's theses are well supported with historical information. His arguments made me reexamine some of my preconceptions about the colonial period and consider in a new light the impact of early American history on the present. That said, the author is not the most scintilating writer among historians. Also, the book ends abrubtly without a summary chapter, which would have been useful. It appears Boorstin performed surgery on a larger _The Americans_ work, slicing it in thirds, without gathering up the entrails and applying a suture.
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Format: Paperback
This is not a coherent history, but a series of disjointed stories, all related to the original settlements in the US. THere is virtually no analysis, only poorly documented anecdotes. SOme of them are very good - the chapter on the export of ice from New England to the Caribbean will stick in my mind for the rest of my life - and some much less. From the reviews, it would seem that people liked Boorstin's approach very much. It grated on me as I expected something more from a writer and historian of Boorstin's reputation.
REcommended as pass time reading rather than serious historical research.
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Format: Paperback
This is a young work of Boorstin and even years later it still lives up to its greatness. The first book of a trilogy, it sets the tone for the two to follow. We are not given a dry reading of dates and places and wars and settlements. Instead it is a readable story of movements, nations but most the individuals - both known and unknown - whose influence continues with us to this day.
This mix of biographies and historical happenings makes for an enjoyable, entertaining and enlightening work.
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