Monday, December 22, 2014

Gotham is Dutch: my take in The Monocle

For those of you in the United Kingdom, I have an essay in The Monocle's "Forecast" edition on New York City and how its having been founded by the Dutch has determined so much about the city it has become and will continue to be. It's an idea developed further in American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, a book that should have a U.K. edition but, alas, doesn't (though the U.S. one can be bought from

There's no digital tease or online version, bless their hearts, beyond this little bit on the issue, so you'll have to actually get it in the newsstands.

Monday, December 15, 2014

When the Wabanaki ruled the waves...with European vessels

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram you'll find my piece on a little-known aspect of early American colonial history: the dominance of the Gulf of Maine and the nearshore waters of the Maritimes by the region's native inhabitants, the Wabanaki, who include the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, Penobscots, and other nations.

The fascinating element: that the very first explorers in the Gulf of Maine encountered Indians using captured European sailing vessels with great skill, and that later colonial fishermen and mariners would find themselves on the losing end of maritime raids by Indians using both native and European vessels.

The essay is occasioned by a new and somewhat flawed academic paper in the Journal of American History -- one that tries to place the Wabanaki story within the "hot" academic field of Atlantic World studies, arguing that the tribes had geopolitical ambitions to block the creation of the British mercantile world. As you'll see in the piece, that's rather a stretch, but the topic at hand is a fascinating one.