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Instantly seizing his gun, he mounted his horse and raced for the house, shouting a warning which started the children toward the garrison, while he dashed into the house hoping to save his wife and baby. Quickly realizing that this was impossible, and urged by Hannah, he rode after the children. A few of the Indians had pursued the little band of fugitives, firing at them from behind trees and boulders, but Thomas, dismounting, and guarding the rear from behind his horse, held back the savages by threatening to shoot whenever one of them exposed himself.

Meanwhile, a fearful scene was being enacted in the home. Neff, trying to escape with the baby, was easily captured. Invading the house, the savages forced Hannah to rise and dress herself. Sitting despairingly in the chimney, she watched them rifle the house of all they could carry away, and was then dragged outside while they fired the house, in her haste forgetting one shoe. A few of the Indians then dragged Hannah and Mrs. Neff, who carried the baby, towards the woods, while the rest of the band, rejoined by those who had been in the village, killing twenty-seven and capturing thirteen of the inhabitants.

Finding that carrying the baby was making it hard for Mrs. Fearing a prompt pursuit, the Indians immediately set out for Canada with their booty. Some of the weaker captives were callously knocked on the head and scalped, but in spite of her condition, poorly clad, and partly shod, Hannah, doubtless assisted by Mrs.

During the next few days they traveled about a hundred miles through the unbroken wilderness. After reaching the island, the Indians grew careless. The river was in flood. Samuel was considered one of the family, and the two women were considered too worn out to attempt escape, so no watch was set that night and the Indians slept soundly. Hannah had decided that the time had come. Shortly after midnight she woke Mrs. The first is relatively minor. The consistency of the usage proved otherwise. The bigger problem — the one that keeps this from greatness — is that Atkinson never tells me why Hannah Duston is important.

What relevance does she have for us? Contemporary historians from as far back as the 17th century debated the morality of her actions as Atkinson points out in the endnotes. You can argue with equal strength that she is either a proto-Wonder Woman or a remorseless murderer. Atkinson utterly fails to derive any meaning from this event, or to convince the reader of its noteworthiness, aside from the obvious novelty of a woman being the one to wield the fatal axe. View all 12 comments. Reading this book, you get the sense of a piece of art being painted before you. Atkinson goes into the detail of colonial America and several precipitating events to present the history that surrounds the story - the bias of the time, the political gamesmanship for control, and the intense financial drivers that form the backdrop to the scene in the foreground.


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A woman forcibly taken, marched through the NH wilderness in the freezing cold, subjected to brutal conditions and acts, all spurned on Reading this book, you get the sense of a piece of art being painted before you. A woman forcibly taken, marched through the NH wilderness in the freezing cold, subjected to brutal conditions and acts, all spurned on by french-sponsored raiding parties by local American Indian tribes.

To critics that cannot restrain from romanticizing and placing a euphemistic lens on history, try spending 2 weeks in the NH wilderness without supplies or shelter, dressed as they did in this story, and follow the path they traveled. You'll endure cold temps ranging from a 48 degree high to a 23 degree low with snow still occurring. That's what NH is like in mid to late March. Picture being forced through river crossings that soak your feet and legs. Even by today's standards with the advanced protective clothing available, such a trek is daunting. You feel the brush of snow and bone-chilling cold of the water because Atkinson experienced them, and has mastered taking an event where the ending is known and puts you into the midst of the story to feel the fear, chills, exhaustion, and near hopelessness.

Everything here is rich in history and offers an expansive big picture to include the manipulation and misunderstandings between American Indians and European colonizers in North America and Canada. We're presented with clash of cultures and conflicting values on all sides, as well as subtle inner conflicts within each society.

The American Indian was often cruel to their enemies, but early settlers were also blinded by religion conveniently defined for their purposes. And, as is still true today, following the money always leads back to the root of an issue -- a truth borne out in this story. An exceptional read and very much worth your time. Mar 18, Susan rated it did not like it Shelves: I picked this up because a it's local history and b I've really enjoyed Jay Atkinson's other books.

This book, not so much. I will give him this, he was thorough. But here's what I didn't like: The jumping around back and forth in time, in several tangential stories about Hannah Bradley and the history of the French, the English, and the native people of America. Most of Hannah's account was taken from the one contemporaneous written account of the story, which was written by Cotton Math I picked this up because a it's local history and b I've really enjoyed Jay Atkinson's other books. Most of Hannah's account was taken from the one contemporaneous written account of the story, which was written by Cotton Mather.

Let's not forget his ugly role in the frenzy of the Salem witch trials. He may have gone to Harvard and he may have been a minister, but his trade was in whipping up the most sordid, dramatic, and UNTRUE stories of the time. I'd rely on his account being factual as much as I believe the headlines in the Weekly World News. Sorry, it's not okay to call them savages or say they are untamed because they don't follow Christian religious beliefs and do what the white Europeans say. There were times when I thought that the author was might give a balanced account of this story, but he was utterly incapable of doing so.

He seemed to make much of the fact that natives walked around naked in the winter, as though they were too stupid to realize they were cold and do something about it. Let's not forget, these religious zealot invaders did not deal with the natives in a fair and aboveboard manner.


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They came in and conquered and killed and then wrote history to make themselves look good. This book falls into that trap, and I'm done with reading any more of this author's books. I won't support a racist. Sep 08, David Johansson rated it it was amazing. Atkinson plunges you into the cold water of the Merrimack river, makes you feel like brushing the snow from your shoulders, and marches you alongside the Indians into a world of wilderness now forever lost. He writes English prose like a master, and his canvas is as colorful as a mural. Painting the big picture of colonial America, when the French and the Engli What a page-turner!

Painting the big picture of colonial America, when the French and the English struggled for dominance and Indians were used as mercenaries, Atkinson zooms in for the close-up on Hannah -- his steadfast heroine, giving you the thrill of intimacy with her iron will and unforgettable deeds. The author then pulls back for the establishing shots of what made the circumstances of her tragedy possible. Oct 25, Judy rated it did not like it. Shame on Atkinson for not calling this a work of historical fiction--emphasis on fiction.

Atkinson delivers a retread of a story as told to Cotton Mather of Salem witch trials fame , and retold by such literary lights as Whittier, Hawthorne, and Thoreau. This story of a Puritan woman's capture by "savages" and escape after slaughtering and scalping an entire encampment of sleeping Indians, became a Victorian trope and parr of the justification for 19th century Manifest Destiny.

Ultimately, Atki Shame on Atkinson for not calling this a work of historical fiction--emphasis on fiction.

THE STORY OF HANNAH DUSTON: COTTON MATHER

Ultimately, Atkinson's lurid imagining of the saga, with a fig leaf of historical references, perpetuates offensive stereotypes of Native Americans. Jan 02, David L. An excellent story Atkinson brilliantly researched and wrote an outstanding read of the ordeal of Hanna Duston. In , in Colonial Massachusetts , she was captured by Abenaki Indians.

She escaped with two others and got revenge by killing ten of her captors and taking their scalps. She returned to her home and what was left of her family. Atkinson does a great job in describing the stark and brutal dangers that they faced. Duston's revenge is debated to this day. An outstanding history that is An excellent story Atkinson brilliantly researched and wrote an outstanding read of the ordeal of Hanna Duston.

An outstanding history that is highly recommended.

Jul 03, Nat Bond rated it liked it. An exciting narrative of the trials of Hannah Duston of Haverhill. But the book has a remarkable typo for and one continuing error: Throughout the story Atkinson uses "musket' and "rifle" interchangeably. Although rifling was invented for large field weapons in the fifteenth century, It is highly unlikely that English colonists and Indians had access to them in the late s.

In fact most English soldiers carried muskets over a century later in the War of Oct 15, Juli rated it it was amazing. Hannah and Thomas Duston are my husband's 9th great-grandparents.

Hannah Duston

I can't believe all that Hannah had to endureI am in awe of her. When I saw that this book had been written, of course I had to buy it! I was not disappointed. The author apparently did a ton of research, including retracing Hannah's route.

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Thank you for writing this book! Sep 09, Sarah rated it liked it Shelves: Minus a star for referring to Native women as "Squaws" no matter the historical context and minus a star for narrating passages with information that could not be known such as what Hannah Duston and Hannah Bradley felt. I also found the jumping back and forth between the two Hannah's captivity narratives, Bradley's which happened two separate times one with Duston's and one separately, and through time disorienting and hard to follow, especially when he referred to the the Hannah's as Hannah or Minus a star for referring to Native women as "Squaws" no matter the historical context and minus a star for narrating passages with information that could not be known such as what Hannah Duston and Hannah Bradley felt.

I also found the jumping back and forth between the two Hannah's captivity narratives, Bradley's which happened two separate times one with Duston's and one separately, and through time disorienting and hard to follow, especially when he referred to the the Hannah's as Hannah or Duston or Bradley, or Goodwife etc. Jan 18, Jennifer rated it liked it. However, this story catagorically puts that "Disney-like" image to rest. In fact, life on the frontier and relations with and among Native American tribes and the settlers and the English and French was pretty much a free-for-all with back stabbing and side deals and greed at the heart of the unrest.

What interested me the most in this book was Hannah Duston's story but as I mentioned there is a good deal of background and information on the context of this event and the politics of the time. This was not an easy time to be a settler and these were hearty people and I am very happy to have learned more about Hannah. I am sure there are many other similar stories of unrecognized individuals who also faced extreme situations and events.

Abenakis raid Haverhill, Mass, take captives, including Hannah Dustin, who a week prior had given birth to her zillionth baby. The raiding group trudge the group northward, many die, are killed inc Hannah's baby etc. Eventually, Hannah and 2 others--one is the woman who had been caring for Hannah after the birth, another a teenage boy from another villag--are taken with an Abenaki family group of a dozen or so to Concord, NH. They overnight on an island in th True story: They overnight on an island in the Merrimack River.

Then they have a harrowing journey back down the river by canoe, and yadda yadda yadda, make it home again. The book goes well into the relationships and issues between the native tribes. A very complex setup, indeed. And, natch, I knew little to nothing about this what with my white girl education. Mar 03, Erin Brenner rated it really liked it.

I really enjoyed this book about a local heroine. It's well researched but doesn't mindlessly reproduce the biases of the source material. Our views on Native Americans has changed greatly in the more than years since Hannah was taken captive, and Atkinson tells the story with that in mind.

He looks at both sides, showing the hardships and the cruelties of both the Native Americans and the Europeans. His notes are well worth reading alongside the main text, enriching the story further. For al I really enjoyed this book about a local heroine. For all of that, this is not a dry, academic book. It's an enjoyable narrative about people ordinary, famous, and infamous. Those from the Merrimack Valley will visit familiar places and get to know people remembered only locally.

Others will enjoy getting to know what frontier life was like in colonial days: Sep 13, Lori rated it liked it. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Hannah Duston's story is fascinating and Atkinson does a good job of setting it up in a dramatic way, providing historical context, and vividly describing the documented events.

I enjoyed flipping back to the end notes for additional detail as I read and learned a lot along the way. I couldn't give the book a higher rating because I was bothered by the author's interpretations and assumptions about what Duston was thinking or feeling at any given I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I couldn't give the book a higher rating because I was bothered by the author's interpretations and assumptions about what Duston was thinking or feeling at any given moment.

There is absolutely no way that information is documented anywhere, especially in such detail, however it is presented in this book as fact.

Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America

In addition, I found the descriptions of the landscape and the river to be extremely repetitive. Nov 21, Susan rated it really liked it Shelves: I grew up only a few hundred yards from Salmon Brook, which feeds into the Merrimack River. When Hanna Duston escaped from her Indian captors, she stopped briefly at the home of an Englishman on her way back to Haverill. There's a stone commorating this about a mile from where I grew up, so I've always been interested in Hannah's story. Jay Atkinson does a great job explaining the background of the Indian wars, most of which were incited by wars between France and England.

Jan 05, Dave Scrip rated it it was amazing Shelves: Well researched and written.


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Hanna Duston's taken into captivity by the Abenaki Indians in March of and her ultimate revenge is still debated today. Atkinson story tells of the harsh brutal reality she faced and her ultimate escape to return to what was left of her family. Jan 02, Nicolette Harding rated it liked it. Though not for the faint of heart. I've yet to read such graphic descriptions of war, murder and kidnapping by colonial time Indians. How Hannah Duston survived and continued on is an amazing story.

Jan 07, Deb Stransky rated it it was amazing. Having grown up around the New England area I found this very interesting and I remember some incidents from history class. I also knew the areas, towns, etc that were mentioned in the book I felt Jay Atkinson was a superb writer. Dec 02, Matt rated it liked it Shelves: Jan 05, Kirsten rated it really liked it. Jun 28, George rated it really liked it. I found this to be a vivid, well-written , and well researched recreation of a violent and troublesome event in early American colonial history. I met the author at a talk and reading that he gave at the Salem visitor center.

I found him to be quite accessible and his manner easy-going. The passage he read inspired me to get and read the book. As a kind of aside, and not really a review of the book , I have to take exception to some of the criticisms leveled at the book here on Goodreads, which I found this to be a vivid, well-written , and well researched recreation of a violent and troublesome event in early American colonial history. As a kind of aside, and not really a review of the book , I have to take exception to some of the criticisms leveled at the book here on Goodreads, which seem to condemn both the first-hand narrative approach, and the way that some of the subject matter is handled, specifically the portrayal of Native Americans as "violent savages".

First issue; the narrative approach. Some have taken exception to the detailed, almost novelistic descriptions of things like specific actions and Hannah's state of mind.

Although I know intellectually that these are author extrapolations, they are very good ones, based on first-hand written accounts of what happened, along with physical and forensic evidence, blended with actual, on-site, first-hand experience of the author himself, traveling the same route that Hannah traveled, under similar conditions.

The portrayal of Native Americans. The Native Americans were violent, and did behave savagely. They did so not only with the English, but also with other tribes. In short, they were humans, and like any group of people, were a decidedly mixed bag. This in no way excuses the savagery of the warfare the English waged on native Americans in their efforts to colonize and exterminate them, but it doesn't give a free pass to Native American behavior either.

The unfortunate modern tendency to project modern interpretations and judgements onto actions and situations we are distantly and quite safely removed from strikes me as disingenuous and somewhat comical. I can't help but feel that these criticisms miss the entire point of the story. Although the author takes great pains to explain the political, religious and economic forces that led converted Catholic Abenaki Indians to mount the devastating early-morning, March raid , at some point, if you are honest with yourself you realize you no longer care what the big picture is, especially when it comes down to the basic issue of survival.