This fascinating book is the first volume in a projected cultural history of the United States, from the earliest English settlements to our own time. It is a history of American folkways as they have changed through time, and it argues a thesis about the importance for the United States of having been British in its cultural origins. While most people in the United States today have no British ancestors, they have assimilated regional cultures which were created by British colonists, even while preserving ethnic identities ...
This fascinating book is the first volume in a projected cultural history of the United States, from the earliest English settlements to our own time. It is a history of American folkways as they have changed through time, and it argues a thesis about the importance for the United States of having been British in its cultural origins. While most people in the United States today have no British ancestors, they have assimilated regional cultures which were created by British colonists, even while preserving ethnic identities at the same time. In this sense, nearly all Americans are "Albion's Seed," no matter what their ethnicity may be. The concluding section of this remarkable book explores the ways that regional cultures have continued to dominate national politics from 1789 to 1988, and still help to shape attitudes toward education, government, gender, and violence, on which differences between American regions are greater than between European nations.
946pp. illus. paperback tall 8vo: near Fine. Pulitzer Prize winning historian Michael Kammen called this book "The finest work of synthesis in early American history in more than fifty years, " when it first appeared. Fischer is himself a Pulitzer Prize winner for history.
This is a great book. Lots of facts, all fully referenced, and insightful interpretations. This book should be on the curriculum for all American schools as it details the early years of the country in ways that other books never have. From a political and social perspective it very clearly explains why Americans from different parts of the country think and react the way they do. If only they could see the influence that their history exerts on them i think the United States would be a more harmonious and progressive country. Enjoyable reading.
Jan 27, 2011
Wonderful author and very interesting. This is a marathon, not a sprint but gives an entire new context to view American history.
Aug 12, 2009
Enlightening Framework for American History
Of all the various speculations about what has formed the American character and the "culture wars," David Hackett Fischer's thesis in Albion's Seed should be given primacy. He argues that there were four identifiable groups arriving in the American colonies from Britain in the 17th Century with conflicting values, ideas, and ways of life which have been adopted by immigrants ever since, still shaping the world we know.
The best part about Fischer is that he makes the argument painlessly, letting the accumulation of detail speak for him, such as the way each group looked at time, work, food, and leisure.
As an amateur genealogist, I also found very useful details to explain patterns of settlement of my own ancestors (and found a couple of them in his genealogical tables) and discussions of naming customs to develop clues for earlier generations.
I liked it so well I'm getting a second copy to loan out !
Jun 3, 2007
One of the very best
This is the kind of book that has altered and enriched my view of the world. Fortunately, Dr Fischer writes extremely well, and has been served excellently by the typographical layout, which leads one painlessly through an infinity of research. This is his first volume in a projected cultural history of the States, with a thesis that he builds up page by page and paragraph by paragraph. The four main regional sections of our English colonies come to life in their differences, differences rooted in the various regions of Britain from which their colonists emigrated, which he sees still operating in succeeding centuries of conflict and compromise. The book is scholarly without being oppressive, and exciting in its ideas. If there were an extra star, I would click it, but be prepared for its length.
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