In the spirit of You Are There, this firsthand approach to American history turns directly to original sources and imparts a sense of immediacy to such major events as the landing of the Pilgrims and such off-beat topics as the harrowing ordeal of a white man adopted by a tribe of Chippewas. There are 50 excerpts in all, taken from the journals and diaries of statesmen, historians, soldiers, travelers and immigrants. Their varied style and content reflect the unique qualities of each era and the perceptive impressions of those who participated, from erudite leaders to illiterate backwoodsmen. There are astute character studies of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln; homey descriptions of a pioneer cabin, a frontier trading post, a snowstorm in the country; detailed records of Marquetle's voyage down the Mississippi, a tense battle between French and Indians: William Bradford's Mayflower voyage; Insightful portrayals of slave auctions, the South after the Civil War, New York's slums at the end of the 19th century. Though parallels can be drawn between this and The Adventure of America (Bernard Geis, p. 1016 J-) the scope is much greater in the latter and the interweaving of poems, songs, stories and legends created a more dynamic portrait. Miss Hoff offers the reader straight source material briefly introduced by short paragraphs of background information, valuable in itself, but no comparison to the sweeping panorama achieved in the earlier book.