Updated: May 2
If you enjoy reading American history, Allan Eckert’s Winning of America series is for you. The six books are: The Frontiersmen, Wilderness Empire, The Conquerors, Wilderness War, Gateway to Empire, and Twilight of Empire. The books are not historically sequential, each one written as a stand-alone story about the European takeover of six geographical areas in what is today the northeast quadrant of the U.S.
These volumes are not fiction or historical fiction. They are documented history written in narrative form. Eckert’s primary resource was the Lyman C. Draper Collection held by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the collector living from 1815-1891. This collection includes over 5000 pages of original manuscripts, diaries, notes and journals, and letters, plus 10,000 pages of Draper’s own notes of the recollections of Indians and pioneers recorded from face-to-face interviews. Eckert also spent years researching in a multitude of private, municipal, county, state, and federal libraries. Each of the volumes in the series has extensive endnotes, often noting the present-day locations of incidents in the stories. While exploring the six books in the series, the reader will surely want to keep a bookmark in the endnotes for the additional clarifying and fascinating information.
Eckert describes the nature of his series in an Author’s Note: “The (story) is fact, not fiction. It is living history; the narrative of the day by day, often minute by minute, experiences of the people and events of the time period it covers. Every incident described herein actually occurred; every date is historically accurate; every character, regardless of how major or how minor, actually lived the role in which he is portrayed.”
For the reader who sees the entertainment of a good story, written history all too often becomes burdensomely pedantic and tedious. The historical novel, while often dramatic and interesting, can rarely be relied upon for historical accuracy. It has long been my belief that this gap could and should be bridged.” And bridge it Eckert does!
To quote the author again: “The Winning of America series moves across the continent, showing clearly and in the most fundamentally human terms, how the land was won – through encroachment, warfare, trickery, grant, treachery, alliance, deceit, fraud, theft, and treaty. It is a story which began at the first white contact with the Indians of this continent, and which continued through the centuries until subjugation or extinction of the tribes was total.”
Many years ago Mr. Eckert graciously received me in his home in southwestern Ohio where I had an intimate one-on-one conversation with him. Reading his books and conversing with him were major factors leading to my second career as an author.
Of the multitudes of authors I have read in my lifetime, none could receive a higher recommendation from me than Allan Eckert. For those who enjoys well-written, flowing American history, the Winning of America series (and Eckert’s other books) can’t be beat.