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New England Outpost: War and Society in Colonial Deerfieldby Richard I. Melvoin
Synopses & Reviews
"[An] accessible, readable, and appealing study of New England's most famous frontier town. . . . One of the clearest, most persuasive analyses to date of how the relations between Indian tribes (and particularly inter-Indian warfare) influenced the processes of settlement in colonial America. . . . What this splendid book does is enable us to understand, in detail, the harrowing, extraordinary processes by which Deerfield--and by extension Lancaster, Haverhill, and many other places like it--became an 'ordinary' New England town at last. . . . Melvoin's narrative achieves the kind of compelling quality that Parkman managed in ; yet, it is in every sense analytically superior to that classic account." --Fred Anderson,
"Melvoin takes a close look at a critical period in the history of Deerfield, Massachusetts from 1665 to 1715. He takes the experiences of Deerfield to be illustrative of the processes—and costs—of settlement on the colonial New England frontier. The frontier experience, Melvoin not surprisingly emphasizes throughout, was one of war. Melvoin presents a scholarly, readable account of the lives of colonial Americans and the evolution of their institutions during the bloody period of white settlement and Indian displacement." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
This is a study of a small American colonial outpost which, between 1665-1715, came under attack 30 times, culminating in a massacre which claimed the lives of over half of the town's population. The book is also a social history, portraying the lives of the first Puritan settlers and the effect of the colonies on the wars between France and England. The author describes the complexity of the Indians' role in all events, as the balance of power throughout the New England frontier was divided between many Indian tribes as well as the opposing English and French colonists.
Deerfield's first half-century, starting in 1670, was a struggle to survive numerous Indian attacks. But more than a site of bloodshed, Deerfield offers an extraordinary opportunity to study larger issues of colonial war and society.
About the Author
Richard I. Melvoin is Assistant Dean of Admissions and Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard-Radcliffe.
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