Books by Alan Taylor

Released: Oct. 15, 2019

"A book that refreshingly adds real substance to the abundant literature on Jefferson."
The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian enlightens us on the mindset of Colonial Virginia through Thomas Jefferson's drive to change the education system. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"Beautifully organized and accessibly presented history for all readers."
A clear, authoritative, well-organized look at the messy Colonial march toward revolution and self-rule. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 9, 2013

"Full of implication, an expertly woven narrative that forces a new look at 'the peculiar institution' in a particular time and place."
Exemplary work of history by Pulitzer and Bancroft winner Taylor (History/Univ. of Virginia; Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction, 2012, etc.), who continues his deep-searching studies of American society on either side of the Revolution. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 13, 2010

"An assiduously researched, brilliantly composed explication of the war's true nature."
A Bancroft and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian's unconventional and revealing take on one of America's least understood wars. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2006

"Illuminating and evenhanded; a sturdy companion to Fred Anderson's The War That Made America (2005) and other recent studies of the colonial and postcolonial frontier."
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor (American Colonies, 2001, etc.) turns in a grand tale "of mutual need and mutual suspicion" as Americans, Indians and the colonial powers vied for mastery of the 18th-century frontier. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 12, 2001

"There are many good histories of Colonial America. This isn't one of them."
A history of American colonialism, broadly defined. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 1995

The story of a man's spectacular career in postRevolutionary War New York and his famous son's novelistic effort to rewrite it. The ambitious middle son of a poor Pennsylvania Quaker family, William Cooper (17541809) married in 1774 and used his in-laws' wealth and status to set himself up as a farmer, land speculator, and shopkeeper. But Cooper's real opportunity came in the 1780s, when he bought up the mortgage to a large tract of land near Otsego Lake on the New York frontier. Using tactics of questionable legalityincluding buying out Benjamin Franklin's exiled loyalist son, William, without his knowledgeCooper managed to gain control of the Otsego land and sell it off quickly, simultaneously developing the area and securing his ill-gotten gains. He offered favorable terms to settlers and so earned their trust and loyalty. At the same time, Cooper ingratiated himself with wealthy landowners by managing their land with fantastic success. Cooper became a Federalist political force, and his wealth increased, but his hasty actions often led to disastrous consequences, and in his effort to become a gentleman, he lost touch with the frontiersmen who had made him a success. At his death in 1809which Taylor (History/Univ. of Calif., Davis) persuasively argues was not the result of a blow to the head by a political opponent, as Cooper's biographers have long claimedhe left a shaky domain, the management of which fell largely on the incapable shoulders of his youngest son, James Fenimore. Unable to save his father's empire in actuality, the novelist sought to reclaim it in The Pioneers (1823), a fictional rendering of his father's fantastic life. Good social history, weak literary criticism, but the standout here is William Cooper himself, a true American original. (16 pages illustrations, 7 maps, not seen) Read full book review >