Frontier: the word carries the inevitable scent of the West. But before Custer or Lewis and Clark, before the first Conestoga wagons rumbled across the Plains, it was the East that marked the frontier--the boundary between complex Native cultures and the first colonizing Europeans.Here is the older, wilder, darker history of a time when the land between the Atlantic and the Appalachians was contested ground--when radically different societies adopted and adapted the ways of the other, while struggling for control of what all considered to be their land.The First Frontier traces two and a half centuries of history through poignant, mostly unheralded personal stories--like that of a Harvard-educated Indian caught up in seventeenth-century civil warfare, a mixed-blood interpreter trying to straddle his white and Native heritage, and a Puritan woman wielding a scalping knife whose bloody deeds still resonate uneasily today. It is the first book in years to paint a sweeping picture of the Eastern frontier, combining vivid storytelling with the latest research to bring to life modern America's tumultuous, uncertain beginnings.
From the moment Europeans arrived in North America, they were awestruck by a continent awash with birds--great flocks of wild pigeons, prairies teeming with grouse, woodlands alive with brilliantly colored songbirds. Of a Feather traces the colorful origins of American birding: the frontier ornithologists who collected eggs between border skirmishes; the society matrons who organized the first effective conservation movement; and the luminaries with checkered pasts, such as Alexander Wilson (a convicted blackmailer) and the endlessly self-mythologizing John James Audubon. Scott Weidensaul also recounts the explosive growth of modern birding that began when an awkward schoolteacher named Roger Tory Peterson published A Field Guide to the Birds in 1934. Today birding counts iPod-wearing teens and obsessive "listers" among its tens of millions of participants, making what was once an eccentric hobby into something so completely mainstream it's now (almost) cool. This compulsively readable popular history will surely find a roost on every birder's shelf.