Americans A Collision of Histories

Edward Countryman

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

324 Pages



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In this social history, Edward Countryman shows how interactions among America's different ethnic groups have contributed to our sense of nationality. From the earliest settlements along the Atlantic seaboard to the battle over our nation's destiny in the aftermath of the Civil War, Countryman reveals Americans in all their diverse complexity and shows why the very identity of "American"—forged by the African, the Indian, and the European alike—is what matters.


Praise for Americans

"The picture of Americans that emerges in this book is diverse in the best sense. In delineating the contours of the nation's ethnic makeup, Mr. Countryman avoids pat generalizations and political partisanship. He innovatively synthesizes relevant, often unfamiliar information and presents it with disarming directness . . . Americans admirably provides what we have long needed: a compact, illuminating overview of the intricate strands of early American history."—David S. Reynolds, The New York Times Book Review

"A useful contribution to our ever changing, ever more complex, understanding of who we are."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"With a marvelous and graceful command of detail, Countryman takes us forward through the shared experiences of all . . . Americans stands as the fairest, most sympathetic, most effectively compact synthesis of the nation's ethnic history that anyone has produced."—Carlin Romano, The Boston Globe

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PART ONESLAVERY AND FREEDOM, LOSS AND GAIN{T}o observe the character of a particular people we must examine the objects of its love. And yet, whatever those objects, if it is the association of a multitude not of animals but of rational beings, and is united by a common agreement about the objects of its love, then there is no absurdity in applying to it the title of a "people."--ST. AUGUSTINECHAPTER 1A COLLISION OF HISTORIESTHREE separate histories collided in the Western Hemisphere half a millennium ago, and American history began. The European navigators of the fifteenth and sixteenth
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  • Edward Countryman

  • Edward Countryman, professor of history at Southern Methodist University, is the author of A People in Revolution: The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1760-1790, winner of the Bancroft Prize, and The American Revolution. He lives in Dallas.
  • Edward Countryman