Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough rediscovers a chapter in the American story—the settling of the Northwest Territory by pioneers who overcame incredible hardships to build a community. McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science.
McCullough is a master of research along with being a wonderful storyteller. He takes the history of the area, and turns what could be dry and somewhat dull into vibrant and compelling tales ... The region and its occupants truly come alive in the hands of McCullough. It is a history that unfamiliar to most, and brushes with the famous and infamous add to the surprises ... Lovers of history told well know that McCullough is one of the best writers of our past, and his latest will only add to his acclaim.
It's a fascinating look at a chapter in American history that's been somewhat neglected in the country's popular imagination ... McCullough recounts the first voyage by New Englanders to the Northwest Territory beautifully, detailing the sometimes difficult but ultimately successful trip to what's now Marietta, Ohio ... McCullough's book is told from the point of view of the pioneers, of course, and doesn't focus much on the Native Americans whom they displaced. The stories he tells also center mostly around the male settlers ... Like McCullough's other books, The Pioneers succeeds because of the author's strength as a storyteller. The book reads like a novel ... Both readable and packed with information drawn from painstaking research, The Pioneers is a worthy addition to McCullough's impressive body of work.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough is a master of triumphal tales that celebrate Americans’ personal fortitude and achievements. His most recent book...is very much in that upbeat tradition ... The heroes are so upstanding that, somewhat unexpectedly for a McCullough book, the villains are more compelling ... casting the Ohio Company as a vehicle of higher ideals is a feat too difficult even for a writer as skilled as McCullough ... McCullough glides over these unpleasantries and focuses instead on Cutler’s role in lobbying to exclude slavery from the Northwest Territory ... McCullough’s treatment of the Native Americans whom settlers encountered in Ohio is equally blinkered. To McCullough, the natives were little more than impediments to progress. He cannot bring himself to say that those whom the settlers dislodged had rights to their lands in Ohio ... Rather than wrestle with the moral complexities of western settlement, McCullough simplifies that civic lesson into a tale of inexorable triumph.