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American Odysseys

A History of Colonial North America

Timothy J. Shannon and David N. Gellman

Publication Date - July 2013

ISBN: 9780199781829

400 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

An interpretive narrative introducing students to the major themes and topics in Colonial history, with a focus on colonial development and integration within a wider Atlantic world


Written in an engaging and student-friendly style, American Odysseys examines the entire period between 1492 and 1763, covering important topics that shaped the colonial experience across time and in a variety of places. Authors Timothy J. Shannon and David N. Gellman use a thematic approach, focusing on colonial development and integration within a wider Atlantic world. Each chapter begins with the story of an individual who experienced the wonder and terror of colonization firsthand, so that students can feel a human connection to each of these topics and themes. Taken together, these figures--Indians, servants, slaves, explorers, planters--embody the full array of peoples and cultures that gave the colonial era a trans-Atlantic, multicultural character. Each chapter also features a chronology of events described in that chapter. Maps and images throughout the book help visually orient readers to the stories that comprise this concise yet broad-ranging narrative.

About the Author(s)

Timothy J. Shannon is Professor and Chair in the Department of History at Gettysburg College. He is the author of several books, including Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier (2008), Atlantic Lives: A Comparative Approach to Early America (2004), and Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (2000).

David N. Gellman is Professor of History at DePauw University. He is the author of Emancipating New York: The Politics of Slavery and Freedom, 1777-1827 (2006) and coeditor, with David Quigley, of Jim Crow New York: A Documentary History of Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877 (2003).


"The authors have synthesized a vast amount of material, including the newest scholarship concerning colonists, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans in colonial America. The writing is clear and lively."--Matt Mulcahy, Loyola University Maryland

"American Odysseys is clearly written and the thematic approach gives the book a coherence that others often lack. It tackles complex problems in interesting ways--witchcraft and gender are two that come to mind."--Thomas Humphrey, Cleveland State University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter includes a Chronology and Suggestions for Further Reading

    Preface: The Wonder and Terror of Early America

    Chapter 1: Three Worlds
    West Africa in the Islamic World
    America before Columbus
    The Origins of Early Modern Europe
    Separate Worlds and Shared Humanity

    Chapter 2: Early Encounters: The Sixteenth Century
    Indians' Impressions of Europeans
    The View in the Mirror
    The Spanish Precedent
    Reckoning with North America
    Hope and Failure at Roanoke

    Chapter 3: American Footholds: Planting Colonies, 1607-1732
    Jamestown and the Foundations of the Chesapeake
    The Fur Trade in New France and New Netherland
    The Plantation Complex in the Caribbean
    Cities on a Hill in New England
    Proprietary Designs in the Lower South
    Proprietary Designs in the Middle Colonies
    Fate and Chance

    Chapter 4: Remaking America
    Land Use, Property Rights, and Animals
    Making Converts
    Taking Captives
    Transformative Impact of War
    Borderland Variations
    Death of a Dream

    Chapter 5: American Slavery
    The Atlantic Slave Trade
    First Generations
    From Slaves to Slavery
    Patterns of Resistance
    Emergence of African-American Cultures
    African Identity in the Atlantic World

    Chapter 6: Gender, Family, and Sexuality
    Demography and Family Structure in Comparative Perspective
    Gendered Divisions in Labor, Household Production, and Education
    Desires and Deviance
    Opportunities and Limits for Women
    Birth, Death, and Culture

    Chapter 7: Patriarchy, Politics, and Government
    The Familial Model of Government
    Emergence of a Southern Patriarchal Order
    Great and Small in the Middle Colonies
    Social Ordering in New England
    Reform and Rebellion in an Emerging Empire
    The Meaning of Monarchy in Public Life
    Deference or Democracy: The Nature of Colonial Government
    Dreams and Visions

    Chapter 8: The Natural and Supernatural Worlds
    Providentialism and the Lore of Wonders
    The Trials and Tribulations of Witchcraft
    The Salem Crisis
    Skepticism, Science, and the Natural Order of Things
    The Marvels of the New World: Flora, Fauna, and Landscape
    Medicine, Human Bodies, and Race
    Reason and Faith

    Chapter 9: Unsettling America: Eighteenth-Century European Migrations
    The New Emigrants: Germans, Scots-Irish, and Others
    Transforming the Backcountry
    Convicts and Soldiers
    Servants and Slaves on the Run

    Chapter 10: An Aspiring Society: Social and Religious Reordering
    Imbibing Equality: Drinking and Culture
    Social Rank and Order: Plebian and Patrician
    Consumerism and Self-Fashioning
    The Enlightenment in America: Words and Power
    Pursuits of Salvation: The Great Awakening

    Chapter 11: Warfare and Empire
    Europe's American Empires
    The Imperial Contest in North America and the Caribbean, 1689-1748
    The Native Perspective on Imperial War
    The Colonial Perspective on Imperial War
    The Seven Years' War in North America
    Imperial Ambitions and Colonial Realities

    Epilogue: North America in 1764

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