The Forgotten History of America: Little Known Conflicts of Lasting Importance from the Earliest Colonists to the Eve of the Revolution is a popular history book written by Cormac O’Brien that covers the mysterious and legendary period of America’s earliest history. Do not be fooled by the short and sweet title that graces the cover of this book! Cormac O’Brien’s history of colonial America is a near three hundred page account of some of the most interesting and forgotten events from 1528-1763.
Colonial American history is a passion of mine that mostly stems from the fact that I find the clash of cultures in early America to be exciting and a major turning point in world history. The Forgotten History of America does an amazing job of investigating the unending conflicts between the Spanish, French, Dutch, English, and the vast numbers of Native American tribes battling over the North American continent. There are so many wars and rebellions that are mostly forgotten today that were decisive in the formation of what would become the United States. King Philip’s War, which was mostly fought between British colonists and New England Indian tribes, wins the unfortunate and shocking distinction as the deadliest conflict (by death ratio) in American history even including the Civil War and WWII. The Forgotten History of America also covers Bacon’s Rebellion, Queen Anne’s war, as well as the exploits of Indian hunters and frontiersmen such as John Lovewell and Robert Rogers. The religious and social struggles involving everyone’s favorite hypocrites, the Puritans, and other groups are also cataloged alongside of the military enterprises that forged a nation.
Cormac O’Brien’s writing style is a major reason that I enjoyed The Forgotten History of America more than many other history books. Even if a particular historical period is absolutely fascinating, it is easy for a historian to ruin the experience with a dry, academic writing style. Indeed, this is one of the greatest hazards of reading history books! Thankfully, Cormac O’Brien’s writing presents the historical information with a storyteller’s touch. O’Brien writes about the men and women in colonial America by describing scenery, the possible feelings and thoughts of individuals, and the heat of battle as if it is happening to a character in a novel. This style makes the four hundred-year-old history feel immediate and exciting. The facts are all there, but there is a creative touch to O’Brien’s presentation that sets The Forgotten History of America above the common rabble of bland history texts. The abundance of color paintings, drawings, and portraits also breathe fresh life into the colonial period.
I recommend The Forgotten History of America to all lovers of early American history. This is a book that is only going to be interesting if you are invested in the topic of colonial history, so I would not recommend it as light reading. For history lovers, however, The Forgotten History of America is an excellent guide to the most exciting history that you probably would not hear about otherwise.