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Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter (review)

Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter (review) Book Reviews Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts. By daniel k. richter. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011. 560 pp. $35.00 (cloth). All historians understand that the present rests upon the past; past events shape the context for the present (or historical present) and thus directly influence the range of decisions that individuals can make. In his remarkable book, Before the Revolution, Daniel K. Richter elevates this basic premise of historical inquiry to a new level of interpretive importance by using it as the framework for his discussion as well as the structure of the book itself. He inverts the archeological concept of stratigraphy--digging down through layers of occupation--and builds his narrative from the deepest layer up, reconceptualizing the standard nationalist paradigm used to explain early North American history (and prehistory) by focusing on the worldviews of the actors, across the European and American spectrum, that shaped each layer. Richter's primary argument in this book is that we cannot fully understand the later events without a deep knowledge of earlier ones and, most critically, the perspective that informed those events. Although it sounds simple, applying this concept properly is a complex undertaking. For historians of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of World History University of Hawai'I Press

Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter (review)

Journal of World History , Volume 24 (1) – Aug 7, 2013

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-8050
Publisher site
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Abstract

Book Reviews Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts. By daniel k. richter. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011. 560 pp. $35.00 (cloth). All historians understand that the present rests upon the past; past events shape the context for the present (or historical present) and thus directly influence the range of decisions that individuals can make. In his remarkable book, Before the Revolution, Daniel K. Richter elevates this basic premise of historical inquiry to a new level of interpretive importance by using it as the framework for his discussion as well as the structure of the book itself. He inverts the archeological concept of stratigraphy--digging down through layers of occupation--and builds his narrative from the deepest layer up, reconceptualizing the standard nationalist paradigm used to explain early North American history (and prehistory) by focusing on the worldviews of the actors, across the European and American spectrum, that shaped each layer. Richter's primary argument in this book is that we cannot fully understand the later events without a deep knowledge of earlier ones and, most critically, the perspective that informed those events. Although it sounds simple, applying this concept properly is a complex undertaking. For historians of

Journal

Journal of World HistoryUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 7, 2013

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