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This remarkable, innovative book portrays one of the great American experiences in microcosm. Gerald McFarland tells the story of U.S. westward expansion through the stories of his own ancestors--from their arrival in Massachusetts in 1630, through successive generations that moved west, at length reaching the West Coast in 1900. A Scattered People enriches the literature and reminds readers that most early Americans lived as the Hardemans and the Adairs and the Browns lived. This is the real American history.--Choice. The evocation of historical event through the microcosm of the individual life is moving....In these histories of ordinary men and women, McFarland discovers that 'few [Americans] actually rose from rags to riches.'--Journal of American History. Except for John Brown, who was a half brother of Mr. McFarland's great-great-grandmother, the people in this history are not famous, but, through the author's meticulous research, every one of them comes to life.--New Yorker. Full of fascinating historical detail. It is especially valuable for the insight it provides into the way ordinary Americans of the 19th century experienced and confronted the issues and concerns of their time.--Library Journal.
Gerald McFarland is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has also written The "Counterfeit" Man: The True Story of the Boorn-Colvin Murder Case and Mugwumps, Morals and Politics, 1884-1920.