The Americans: The Colonial Experience Paperback – Mar 12 1964
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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 ReviewSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
REcommended as pass time reading rather than serious historical research.
This mix of biographies and historical happenings makes for an enjoyable, entertaining and enlightening work.
Most recent customer reviews
I love to read American history and Daniel Boorstin is one of the best. After reading this book, I had a much better understanding of the American colonial experience. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2001 by Bill
I was assigned to read this book for AP History over the summer. There is a lot of interesting and accurate information in this book, however, at some points there is far too... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2000
this book was assigned reading for an AP US history class. It had a lot of information -- more than was neccessary -- and lots of tiny details that seemed unimportant. Read morePublished on Sept. 17 1999
Boorstin outlines the fundamentals and development of American consumerism and capitalism of the 19th Century. Read morePublished on June 8 1999
this book was well written for a historical book, but unless you have to read it for a history class i wouldn't reccommend it to anyone.Published on March 1 1999
Once again Boorstin has demonstrated his brilliant analytic historical vision. This book is a well documented presentation of the factors and characteristics of the colonial... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 1999