I’m getting ready to teach an undergraduate course on colonial America this fall. That means I’ve been digging back into Alan Taylor’s fantastic American Colonies (New York: Viking, 2001). I first read it when I was about to start grad school to prepare for a readings seminar in early America. To me, “colonial America” meant a handful of English settlers hanging for dear life onto the eastern seaboard.
I was in for a surprise.
I was over one hundred pages in before the first Englishman planted his foot in Virginia, there was a whole chapter on the Great Plains, and to top it all off, there was a final trip around the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Pacific.
As Taylor puts it, “To write a history of colonial America used to be easier, because the human cast and the geographic stage were both considered so much smaller” (p. x). Learning and teaching about colonial America used to be easier, too. If you find yourself wanting to do either, Taylor’s American Colonies is the best place to start. Have a peek.