This is an amazing book. Written by an authority on American colonial history (Transaction of Free Men, etc.) and combining vast knowledge and inspired documentation with wit and a sense of immediacy, its 900 pages cover every phase of British colonial life in this country, from the first settlements to the close of the Revolution, with side excursions to New Spain and French Canada. Stating that ""historical events seldom occur in the neat way historians prefer,"" the author begins his study with pre- Columban voyages to the New World; he ends it with the making of the Constitution and a few pithy comments on the debt owed by present-day America to its colonial past. The whole story is here, mined from little known or forgotten sources and from much used documents: the first Virginia colonies and later settlements north and south; politics and religion and local rebellions; Indian raids and 18th-century wars; the growth of British imperialism and the restrictions leading to the Revolution. Here are governors, soldiers and Chesapeake squires, and the ""great grim men"" of New England, who ""blinked none of the harshness of life and none of the evil in men""; here, too, are minor trials: ""Those who cannot endure the biting of the muskeeto should keep at home until they become muskeeto proof."" The book should be required reading as a reference in all advanced courses in early American history, while its comprehensive bibliographical chapter notes alone are important for libraries. Appendix listing all colonial magistrates.