The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers an important and dramatic chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community based on ideals that would come to define our country.As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United State...

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Title:The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
Author:David McCullough
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The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West Reviews

  • Janis

    It’s always a treat to have a new David McCullough book! In The Pioneers, he tells the story of the early settlers of the Ohio River Valley, from those who first moved to the frontier and broke land to those who created communities and governing bodies. While the story he tells is specific, focusing on particular families and the region that is now Marietta, Ohio, it gave me a great sense of the changes and movements of those early years of 19th century-America – and how they were linked to our

    It’s always a treat to have a new David McCullough book! In The Pioneers, he tells the story of the early settlers of the Ohio River Valley, from those who first moved to the frontier and broke land to those who created communities and governing bodies. While the story he tells is specific, focusing on particular families and the region that is now Marietta, Ohio, it gave me a great sense of the changes and movements of those early years of 19th century-America – and how they were linked to our both founding ideals and to the schisms that led to the Civil War. Rich in detail, vividly told, it’s a fascinating and inspiring account. Look for this book on May 7, 2019.

  • Luke

    Unfortunately, especially in this day and age, people want their beliefs and their political messages/rhetoric justified in every book they read (or don't read for that matter). The reviews/ratings for this book will surely reflect that, since revisiting well known early Americans and their roles in Native American treatment and slavery are hot topics today. Westward expansion hits on both topics.

    McCullough has never pandered to this political crowd (on either side), and this book is no differen

    Unfortunately, especially in this day and age, people want their beliefs and their political messages/rhetoric justified in every book they read (or don't read for that matter). The reviews/ratings for this book will surely reflect that, since revisiting well known early Americans and their roles in Native American treatment and slavery are hot topics today. Westward expansion hits on both topics.

    McCullough has never pandered to this political crowd (on either side), and this book is no different. Anyone who reads his books knows that he is always interested in telling stories of people, not political movements or complete histories of larger movements (e.g. western expansion). So this is not a complete telling of westward expansion. This book tells stories about people worth telling stories about. McCullough starts with the Ohio Company and writes expertly on the key players working for it that moved west and established Marietta in the Ohio Country. It covers time from mid 1780s to ~1850, with most of the book focusing on the first half of that range. Interesting "side bars" linked to his stories include the settlers writing to George Washington for help in defense, the treason story of Aaron Burr and John Quincy Adam's fight against slavery.

    If you want to hear the true stories of these people, and the hardships they faced head on and overcame, I would recommend reading the book.

  • Linda

    David McCullough always writes appealing books and this one (read from an eARC provided by Edelweiss) does not disappoint. I've always learned from his books but this one was on a subject that I was not at all acquainted with: the first American settlements in the Ohio territory. I knew that the Ohio territory was the first 'west' that Americans went flocking to but no other details and I even ended up hauling out an atlas so I could figure out where exactly these first pioneers settled.

    Unlike

    David McCullough always writes appealing books and this one (read from an eARC provided by Edelweiss) does not disappoint. I've always learned from his books but this one was on a subject that I was not at all acquainted with: the first American settlements in the Ohio territory. I knew that the Ohio territory was the first 'west' that Americans went flocking to but no other details and I even ended up hauling out an atlas so I could figure out where exactly these first pioneers settled.

    Unlike his wonderful stories of American icons such as Truman and John Adams, his main characters are for the most part unknown to us although they live on in state and town history. Most of them are men of character as well - they lived long lives and they were instrumental in making the Ohio territory a place that people wanted to come to as well as insisting that the Ohio territory would be a place where slaves were not allowed.

    Of course, as in all of American history, the people who were already 'settlers' there, the native Americans, lost out as European Americans started their first push west. McCullough also is able to cover the immense changes in the lifetimes of these first settlers as they go from using sailboats to the first steam boats that made transportation easier. The descriptions of what this part of America looked like to these first European American settlers with huge old growth forests makes you appreciate how hard it was to clear the land as well as long for the huge trees to still be there. Once again David McCullough has written a readable and informative history of our nation.

  • Chrissie

    Going into this book with little information, I picked it up based on the merits of David McCullough’s earlier books. From the start, I was immediately struck by its excessive quantity of detail, the multitude of individuals referred to and that the prose did not flow well. I went to Simon & Schuster’s book website, searching for clarity:

    Going into this book with little information, I picked it up based on the merits of David McCullough’s earlier books. From the start, I was immediately struck by its excessive quantity of detail, the multitude of individuals referred to and that the prose did not flow well. I went to Simon & Schuster’s book website, searching for clarity:

    .

    As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. They settled in what is now Marietta on the banks of the Ohio River.

    McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.

    Drawn in great part from a rare and all-but-unknown collection of diaries and letters by the key figures, The Pioneers is a uniquely American story of people whose ambition and courage led them to remarkable accomplishments. This is a revelatory and quintessentially American story, written with David McCullough’s signature narrative energy.”

    I have underlined those portions I comment upon.

    The five individuals focused upon are

    1. General Rufus Putnam

    2. Manasseh Cutler-minister

    3. Ephraim Cutler- Manasseh’s son Cutler

    4. Samuel Hildreth-doctor and botanist

    5. Joe Barker-carpenter, boat-builder and architect

    I state these names in an effort to help prospective readers distinguish between the important and less important figures. One returns to these five because it is they who have written the letters and diary entries. None become individuals a reader empathizes with. A reader does not come to know them personally.

    When listening, it is difficult to know which lines are quotes and which the prose of the author or those of his staff who aid him in the writing of books. Furthermore, different writing styles are evident; they are not seamlessly interwoven into each other.

    The author does not analyze the veracity of the statements made. Particularly the claims made by white settlers about the behavior and actions of Native Americans are worth questioning. Opposing points of view are absent.

    The high moral integrity of the settlers is stressed. The presentation of an objective and balanced study of the facts does not seem to be the book’s aim.

    John Bedford Lloyd’s narration of the audiobook I have given three stars. You can easily hear what he says but it is difficult to distinguish which of the lines are direct quotes. Where he pauses is not always right.

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  • Minosh

    This book is infuriating. The fact that books that are so blatantly offensive towards Indigenous people can still be published in 2019 is disgusting. This book ignores decades of scholarship by Native and allied historians of the region in favor of nationalist propaganda. Skip this and read Susan Sleeper-Smith's book

    instead, which covers the Ohio River valley in a similar time period and argues that far from being a "primeval wilderness," this region

    This book is infuriating. The fact that books that are so blatantly offensive towards Indigenous people can still be published in 2019 is disgusting. This book ignores decades of scholarship by Native and allied historians of the region in favor of nationalist propaganda. Skip this and read Susan Sleeper-Smith's book

    instead, which covers the Ohio River valley in a similar time period and argues that far from being a "primeval wilderness," this region was actually a thriving center of Indigenous prosperity--and that is exactly why Americans wanted to colonize it.

    Some quotes from just the description and first chapter:

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