An absorbing narrative history of bloody straggles for dominance over the once-pristine, vast, and rich Ohio River Valley and its thousand-mile river. In the Ohio Valley, Indian tribes had long warred among themselves until the fierce Shawnees took control. They would later oppose the French and British, newcomers who also contested each other for the great prize. Eckert (A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh, 1992, etc.) employs his novelist's skills by expanding well-researched accounts of historical characters, mined from letters, diaries, and anecdotes, into numerous episodic tales of exciting and sometimes tragic adventures. By providing a long prologue with a full historical background and at times ""reconstituting"" credible dialogue among people in briefly reported events, Eckert heightens the drama. He finds heroes and villains among the hunters, trappers, surveyors, soldiers, and hard-working pioneer families; Indians who believed in the white man's treaty boundary lines until the lines were overrun by hordes of claim-staking people from the East, attracted by freedom and the promise of a better life; British aristocrats and bureaucrats trying to rule from safe havens like Williamsburg but eventually losing control of the restless flow of people moving west. Senseless murders of both Indian and white families by a few criminals on either side grew into wars without mercy--fueled by fear, hatred, and vengeance--that killed Indian, British-American, and French in wholesale numbers. Including sketches of such figures as the young George Washington, Daniel Boone, and George Rogers Clark, Eckert takes us through the French and Indian War and the American revolutionary period to 1799, when, at last, peace came to the Ohio River Valley. Eckert's scholarship and style breathe life into the records of a turbulent time in the history of colonial America.