West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

Claudio Saunt. Norton, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-24020-7
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)
Reviewed on: 03/10/2014
Release date: 06/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-35115-6
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-393-24430-4
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