Terrance Keenan employs a unique and fresh approach to historical narrative. His prudent use of a rich collection of family documents elevates the genre to new levels of interest, reflection, and scholarship. The result is a remarkably palpable, highly accessible, and intellectually provocative reconstruction of lives lived in epochs past. Spanning a period of eighty years, the book depicts a nineteenth-century central New York family grappling with shifting mores, civil war, and vast changes in technology, transportation, culture, education, and even regional landscape. In firsthand, sometimes intimate accounts these frontier people, business entrepreneurs - men, women and children - tell who they were, where their travels took them, what went on in their hearts and minds, and how they were affected by historical forces greater than themselves. Carefully edited diaries, letters, and journals show how greed and betrayal, trial and triumph, and star-crossed romance informed the emotional and material fortunes of the Collin/Knapp families. Here are true stories of generational conflict, human relations, and accomplishment shaped by time, place, custom, and kinship.
This revealing work will be an abundant and entertaining experience for the general reader as well as an invaluable asset to students of American cultural history, frontier life and culture, American diaries and letters as literature, modernization, and historiography.