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That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley (Mysteries & Horror)

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An epic novel by an award-winning author chronicles the settling of the Ohio River Valley, home to the defiant Shawnee Indians, who vow to defend their land against the seemingly unstoppable.  From the Trade Paperback edition.


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An epic novel by an award-winning author chronicles the settling of the Ohio River Valley, home to the defiant Shawnee Indians, who vow to defend their land against the seemingly unstoppable.  From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley (Mysteries & Horror)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mayer

    Eckert is the master of writing about the early frontier. His research is phenomenal. The narrative storyline tends to be a bit difficult, but that's because he's covering so much. Essentially this is the history of settling the Ohio River. I really think if the people who live in that area knew how unbelievably brutal that frontier was, they'd be stunned. Both sides committed what we would consider atrocities but they were fighting for their lives and their livelihoods. One example is the battle Eckert is the master of writing about the early frontier. His research is phenomenal. The narrative storyline tends to be a bit difficult, but that's because he's covering so much. Essentially this is the history of settling the Ohio River. I really think if the people who live in that area knew how unbelievably brutal that frontier was, they'd be stunned. Both sides committed what we would consider atrocities but they were fighting for their lives and their livelihoods. One example is the battle of Sandusky. A no-holds barred extended battle which the Americans lost. And what happened to their commander, Colonel Crawford, before he was mercifully burned at the stake. When being burned at the stake is merciful, you can not imagine what the torture was like. I also think of how hard pressed those first settlers were to face what they faced. Also, of course, how the Native Americans were losing everything. A very worthwhile read to understand the people who came before.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Sorota

    In That Dark and Bloody River Allan Eckert writes an engaging historical narrative, documenting the settlement of the Ohio river valley and the ensuing war of settlers and Indians. This is the first Eckert book I have read, but it looks like you can't go wrong, with an author who's been nominated seven times for the Pulitzer Prize in literature. His acclaimed "The Winning of America" 6 volume set follows the westward expansion, and has received high praise. Though his intention was to follow th In That Dark and Bloody River Allan Eckert writes an engaging historical narrative, documenting the settlement of the Ohio river valley and the ensuing war of settlers and Indians. This is the first Eckert book I have read, but it looks like you can't go wrong, with an author who's been nominated seven times for the Pulitzer Prize in literature. His acclaimed "The Winning of America" 6 volume set follows the westward expansion, and has received high praise. Though his intention was to follow the entire westward settlement, he only got as far as the northern Mississippi before he passed away. This book is very dense, and you may find yourself taking a long time to read it (or losing it an an airport like me). I would not bother with the paperback version, which is what I used to finish the book. The book jacket of the hardback has detailed maps of the Ohio River Valley that you will want to reference repeatedly while you read. The paperback does not have the maps. That's quite an oversight, because there are only 2 or 3 maps scattered through the text and these are specific to battles; they do not show the scope of the territory. With over 800 footnotes, and an eleven page bibliography, I find it hard to entertain critics of Eckert's narrative style, which some claim is more fiction than fact. It doesn't take too many pages of reading a passage and flipping back to check the numerous footnotes before you're convinced that any invented dialogue or assumptive reporting is based on such thorough research that you are comfortable with the author's liberties. The style, undoubtedly, makes the text easier to read and far more enjoyable. Daniel Boone escaping the Indians on multiple occassions, Ebeneezer Zane helping to settle to valley, Sam Brady and his rangers who can reload rifles and shoot a target dead on while running at full speed, the Wetzel brothers and their daring escapades, Tecumseh and his holy wars, Blue Jacket's eloquent debate, Gen. Wayne's brilliant negotiating and Michikiniqua's war cry - All these figures come to life in the pages of Eckert's history. Historians will enjoy, fiction-lovers will be engaged, and residents of the Ohio River Valley will see their counties and creeks transformed in these pages. Enjoy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laure

    This book, about the settlement of the Ohio River Valley, was recommended to me by a fellow cruise passenger last month. However, I found it tedious with it day-by-day recounting which whites died at the hands of the Native Americans, and vice versa. To really keep up with the book, I would have needed to constantly look at a period-accurate map of the area as well as keep a list of which settlers settled where - without those, both the places and names blended all together. One interesting thing This book, about the settlement of the Ohio River Valley, was recommended to me by a fellow cruise passenger last month. However, I found it tedious with it day-by-day recounting which whites died at the hands of the Native Americans, and vice versa. To really keep up with the book, I would have needed to constantly look at a period-accurate map of the area as well as keep a list of which settlers settled where - without those, both the places and names blended all together. One interesting thing in this book was the first page - a letter from Thomas Jefferson setting forth a plan on how to deal with the Native Americans. It was chilling not only in its cold-blooded approach but also in realizing in retrospect how prescient he was.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    Allan W. Eckert's "That Dark and Bloody River" covers the history of the settlement of the Upper Ohio River, concentrating upon the settlement of Kentucky and the period from the Revolutionary War until the Battle of Fallen Timbers. I have been a fan of Allen Eckert's writings since reading his "Wilderness Empire" many years ago. Eckert's unique style is to write a series of short stories about various historical people loosely connected by deed and geography to the theme of the book and loosely Allan W. Eckert's "That Dark and Bloody River" covers the history of the settlement of the Upper Ohio River, concentrating upon the settlement of Kentucky and the period from the Revolutionary War until the Battle of Fallen Timbers. I have been a fan of Allen Eckert's writings since reading his "Wilderness Empire" many years ago. Eckert's unique style is to write a series of short stories about various historical people loosely connected by deed and geography to the theme of the book and loosely organized by chronology. I have also always been highly impressed with the depth of knowledge Eckert displays in period. And in the persistence he displayed in following his subjects. (In the case of Lewis Wetzel all the way to the Spanish Territories and Mississippi.) In the "That Dark and Bloody River", the stories follow both better and lesser known figures. Each story recounts a specific incident. In many cases the figures reappear later in other historical incidents. In other stories the figures are the names of victims of an attack or massacre. As the written records are by and generally of the "white"/European settlers, the "Indian"/Native Americans are often nameless. The settlers' Afro-American slaves often are also not fully named. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Ohio Valley, in the history of the Native Americans, or in the history the United States. I would not recommend this book to anyone who would be uncomfortable reading details about how so many of this period met their deaths in some gruesome massacre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William

    Another terrific effort by Eckert. Using contemporary diaries and documents, Eckert is excellent in conveying the atmosphere/attitude/background of events great and small in the settling of the Ohio River Valley, between Pittsburgh and Louisville. While some criticize Eckert's "political license" of inserting dialogue (where no documents exist), his years of study of the principle characters, backed by extensive research, should allow him the occasional "license"--which is sporadically used. The Another terrific effort by Eckert. Using contemporary diaries and documents, Eckert is excellent in conveying the atmosphere/attitude/background of events great and small in the settling of the Ohio River Valley, between Pittsburgh and Louisville. While some criticize Eckert's "political license" of inserting dialogue (where no documents exist), his years of study of the principle characters, backed by extensive research, should allow him the occasional "license"--which is sporadically used. The background and description of the Gnadenhutten Massacre--one of the most tragic in frontier history--is very well done. As is the much lesser known (and for me first time discoverer of) Battle of Sandusky. Eckert accomplishes a difficult task: Trying to describe an historical period filled with well known events and individuals who have over time become obscured by hubris/bias/myth/political correctness. Eckert comes about as close to giving us an objective view of the period/persons as anyone. There are few saints and fewer true villains in history. This book--and Eckert's larger body of work--is highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in the settling of the US frontier.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    It is really not fiction. The author Allen Eckart ex- plains in his preface that he has used direct quotes which are based on original documents; this makes it not academic history, but generally it agrees with more conventional sources I have read. It covers the history of the Ohio Valley from the pre-English inva- sions to beyond the cession of most of Ohio in the Treaty of Greenville of 1794. Relatives of mine were involved in massacres of Indians and were in turn mas- sacred themselves: at least t It is really not fiction. The author Allen Eckart ex- plains in his preface that he has used direct quotes which are based on original documents; this makes it not academic history, but generally it agrees with more conventional sources I have read. It covers the history of the Ohio Valley from the pre-English inva- sions to beyond the cession of most of Ohio in the Treaty of Greenville of 1794. Relatives of mine were involved in massacres of Indians and were in turn mas- sacred themselves: at least two gggg-grandfathers. The book, I think, gives a fair portrayal of what all of them were up to.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Derek Gilbert

    A meticulously researched account of the settlement of the Ohio River valley during the years before and after the American Revolution. Eckert presents a balanced narrative that makes it plain that there were heroes and villains on all sides: colonists, Brits, and native Americans. And the names emerging from that period of history--Simon Kenton, Sam Brady, Lewis Wetzel, Blue Jacket--are not the ones you expect. (Daniel Boone is there, but his story is reserved for another Eckert work, The Court A meticulously researched account of the settlement of the Ohio River valley during the years before and after the American Revolution. Eckert presents a balanced narrative that makes it plain that there were heroes and villains on all sides: colonists, Brits, and native Americans. And the names emerging from that period of history--Simon Kenton, Sam Brady, Lewis Wetzel, Blue Jacket--are not the ones you expect. (Daniel Boone is there, but his story is reserved for another Eckert work, The Court Martial of Daniel Boone.) Very readable and highly recommended for anyone who wants to better understand how the United States came to be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marty Grant

    This book helps us understand the dilemma of both pioneer settlers and Native Americans during the white man's advance across the Ohio River in the late 1700's.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I was interested in reading this historical-fiction book because it mentions one of my ancestors in several places. I had hoped it would talk a little more about the boating industry that developed along the river, as another ancestor was a boatman on the Ohio; unfortunately I was disappointed in that. The book was interesting. The intro wasn't very narrative, and felt too long; though it did serve as a good background. The first-hand testimonies of events really helps to paint a picture of why I was interested in reading this historical-fiction book because it mentions one of my ancestors in several places. I had hoped it would talk a little more about the boating industry that developed along the river, as another ancestor was a boatman on the Ohio; unfortunately I was disappointed in that. The book was interesting. The intro wasn't very narrative, and felt too long; though it did serve as a good background. The first-hand testimonies of events really helps to paint a picture of why war and battle is so terrible, and causes me to wonder why humanity hasn't outgrown it, yet. Both sides had a lot to answer for, and Eckert does a decent job of presenting the native americans' point of view. QUOTES: This belief that the Western Sea (Pacific Ocean) lay just beyond the Alleghenies was quite prevalent among the British colonials for a considerable time. As late as 1612, Sir Dudley Digges offered what he termed "scientific proof" that the North American continent at its greatest expanse from east to west was not more than 360 miles. (Note 17) [- I can't help but think that at any given time, we know nothing.] I did not know this about Kentucky: "The year 1744 brought the first British trader far down the Ohio and into the Kentucky country. Oddly, there were no Indian villages in the land they called Kan-tuck-kee. It was a well-established neutral ground for the various tribes, and with good reason: There were an abundance of salt springs there, such as those that became known as the Blue Licks, Upper Blue Licks, Boone Lick, Big Bone Lick and many others. These salt licks were great attractions for the huge herds of woods bison that roamed the eastern forests, as well as for elk, deer and other animals that craved the salt there. The Kentucky country was therefore a favorite hunting ground of the Indians, and through a long-established tradition honored by all, no tribe could build permanent villages or wage war against one another there. In this wonderful neutral land they could establish their temporary camps and move about in peace to hunt, sometimes even within sight of enemy tribesman whom, had they met them anywhere else, they would have instantly attacked." (Prologue.) The Greenbrier Valley, despite its thorny vegetation in some places, was very beautiful and quickly became an area especially favored by settlers. Two of the newcomers, who decided to be partners, Stephen Sewell and Jacob Marlin, together built a little cabin near the mouth of Stony Creek. This pair had formed a close friendship that lasted until the day they began to discuss religion. Marlin was Catholic, Sewell a Protestant, and the discussion degenerated into a dispute, then a heated argument and finally into a fistfight, which Marlin won. The upshot was that Sewell moved out, crossed to the other side of Stony Creek within sight and hearing of the cabin and set up housekeeping inside an enormous hollow sycamore tree. They never resolved their dispute, but for their mutual protection, each morning whoever was first to rise would call out to the other to see if he was all right and continue calling at intervals until he got a response. Once it was heard, that was their last vocal contact for the day. (Prologue.) - I wonder how often the Church today is willing to do even that much for one another amidst our disagreements. But even if we are, how long are we willing to remain in such a state? "The Indian greeting of "How" is not, as many people believe, a creation of B-grade western movies. It stems from the greeting the English traders originally gave when meeting the Indians, "How do you do?" Unable to quite master the entire phrase, the Indians responded by parroting "How'd'do." This gradually evolved to "Howdy", which the English themselves then picked up in turn from the Indians. The evolution became complete with simply the word "How,", usually accompanied either with a hand raised with palm facing forward in a peace sign, or with a simple handshake. (Note 179)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    I wanted to know more about the history of the area I grew up in. This really is a historic record based on extensive research. I thought it was well written and very interesting. Most of the entries were short reports of the experiences of people who were instrumental in the white man's settlement of the Ohio Valley, which includes Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. It also presents the story from the Native Americans' viewpoint. Basically, the settlers were ruthless, the new American Co I wanted to know more about the history of the area I grew up in. This really is a historic record based on extensive research. I thought it was well written and very interesting. Most of the entries were short reports of the experiences of people who were instrumental in the white man's settlement of the Ohio Valley, which includes Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. It also presents the story from the Native Americans' viewpoint. Basically, the settlers were ruthless, the new American Colonies never kept their promises made in treaties, and the long suffering native people were systematically pushed out of their homeland. It's a very honest accounting, with countless exciting deadly encounters. I'll never forget this book, as the ground where the Battle of Fallen Timbers was fought is very close to my home. My family were some of those early settlers. One of my ancestors was a widow with 11 children, who with her oldest son age 17 built a wooden raft lashed with ropes, and floated it down the Ohio River to make a life fotiger family in Ohio. These early settlers were either foolishly uninformed, very brave, or downright crazy to expose their families to such danger and hardship.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    "Comprehensive and riveting..." is what The Columbus Dispatch review said of this Eckert masterpiece. I found this book delivered these promises, and then some. This book takes the reader deeper into the story started in Eckert's, The Frontiersmen. That Dark and Bloody River tells the compelling story of the settling of the Ohio River Valley. The courage described of both the Whites and the Native Americans during the struggle is awe inspiring. Eckert transports the reader to a time we can only "Comprehensive and riveting..." is what The Columbus Dispatch review said of this Eckert masterpiece. I found this book delivered these promises, and then some. This book takes the reader deeper into the story started in Eckert's, The Frontiersmen. That Dark and Bloody River tells the compelling story of the settling of the Ohio River Valley. The courage described of both the Whites and the Native Americans during the struggle is awe inspiring. Eckert transports the reader to a time we can only barely imagine. A time when only the brave and brutal survived. I felt both pride and shame for the American spirit that seeps through this beautiful true story. I enjoyed every word throughly.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Great book. Though it can be dry at times (especially at the beginning), but it more than makes up for it. It reminds you how violent the history of the US was and that the country is really built on a river of blood. Tells the gruesome tales of the settlement of the Ohio river valley and the warring which occurred between the indians and american settlers. Many atrocities committed by both side make this book very dark and very hard to put down. Just a great book, and will likely give anyone a Great book. Though it can be dry at times (especially at the beginning), but it more than makes up for it. It reminds you how violent the history of the US was and that the country is really built on a river of blood. Tells the gruesome tales of the settlement of the Ohio river valley and the warring which occurred between the indians and american settlers. Many atrocities committed by both side make this book very dark and very hard to put down. Just a great book, and will likely give anyone a huge amount of information on a subject of history that you probably had almost no idea about.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Andersen

    I have read other Eckert books but I will admit I put this one off because of its size. It is a great book packed with much information told in an entertaining way. You really should read all the notes that enhance the story. Some of them are quite lengthy but help explain the background or important details about what happens later that would otherwise distract from the narrative. It also helps if you have a pretty good overview of this period of history prior to reading but it still stands on I have read other Eckert books but I will admit I put this one off because of its size. It is a great book packed with much information told in an entertaining way. You really should read all the notes that enhance the story. Some of them are quite lengthy but help explain the background or important details about what happens later that would otherwise distract from the narrative. It also helps if you have a pretty good overview of this period of history prior to reading but it still stands on its own if you don't know anything about the Ohio Valley in the late 18 century.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim LaSalle

    A novel based on historical events during before, during and after the US War of Independence. Gives insight to the daily lives of settlers along the Ohio River. Especially interesting if you have lived or traveled in the Ohio River Valley. Heavily footnoted.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Absolutely wonderful book detailing the early conflicts of native peoples and anglo-americans. With this book you get to intimitely know lesser known figures of American history like Logan, Cornstalk, Samuel McCulloch, the Greathouse brothers and Michael Cresap.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Houston Fields

    Having grown up in the Ohio Valley, I found this book to be a fascinating account of events surrounding the settlement of that area. As a genealogist, it is a wealth of knowledge for anyone searching for ancestors who lived in the real "wild West" of Western PA/VA and Ohil River Valley.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Why this is classified as a novel here on GoodReads is baffling. It is, in fact, a meticulously researched and detailed account of the settling of the 1,000 mile long Ohio River. It is 630 pages in length with 200 pages of footnotes.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard Schick

    It is so easy to think of the frontier as the far west, the battle for the Ohio River valley was the more epic. The Indian nations were at their full strength and glory and the greed and ruthlessness of the whites unbridled.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Fascinating story of the Ohio River Valley. Got this book because it is related to my Genealogy. Helps me to understand their lives. Some were mentioned in the book. It was a very bloody time. Must have taken a lot of courage or desperation to settle in those times.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valentine

    Fantastic narrative history of the Ohio River Valley. Hard to put down, even though it's 630+ pages.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim Hering

    If you are interested in historical biography and have an interest in the settlement of the Ohio Valley, this is the book for you. Well written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Another great book by A. Eckert. For those interested in history of settlements along the Ohio River, and beyond I highly recommend it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Wilson

    Excellent book about the settling of the Ohio river area. Highly recommended for those interested in early US history

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherrandy Swift

    An excellent read about the dangers of frontier life during the settling of the Ohio River Valley. Discusses the wars between the Indians and the white settlers encroaching upon their land.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Dark and bloody indeed. Sometime simply a listing of atrocities committed. Good history though of a small geographical area.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James Robert

    Simply excellent. Daniel Boone, Tecumseh, Blue Jacket. All told by Eckert?? Yes, please.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I picked up this book because we were vacationing in Kentucky and Ohio and wanted a little historical perspective. Eckert never disappoints!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marlyn

    Very good book about the early settlement of the Ohio Valley. Enjoyed it very much.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Stout

    Brief Synopsis: - The whites took land from the Native Americans - The Tribes fought back - Treaties were made to stop the killings - The whites broke the treaties and took more land - The tribes fought back more - White nations fought against each other and used the Tribes to fight for them. - For all of this, the Tribes received nothing, and lost more land. - More treaties and more breaking of treaties, more bloody battles. - Finally the Native Americans gave up and moved further West, so the white set Brief Synopsis: - The whites took land from the Native Americans - The Tribes fought back - Treaties were made to stop the killings - The whites broke the treaties and took more land - The tribes fought back more - White nations fought against each other and used the Tribes to fight for them. - For all of this, the Tribes received nothing, and lost more land. - More treaties and more breaking of treaties, more bloody battles. - Finally the Native Americans gave up and moved further West, so the white settlers could take more land. This is the history of the bloody "Indian Wars" of the 18th century in Colonial America. Allan W. Eckert details the beginnings of the conflicts with hundreds of actual accounts. Then he chronicles the Colonists against the French and later (with the Indian tribes in the middle) the United States against Britain/Canada (with the tribes in the middle). This is a very low and disgraceful part of American history. The attitude that the Native Americans were "savages" and not worthy of living, prevailed among the frontiersmen. Yes, there were gruesome and terrible atrocities committed on both sides, but it's clear from the history that the early white settlers started it and were the primary aggressors. But outnumbered 10/1 in some of the battles, the united Indian tribes fought valiantly (and intelligently) and easily defeated trained armies with better supplies and superior weapons. Thank you Paul Morrell for suggesting this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Sprague

    "That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley" is as good as historical fiction gets. The book seemed like it would never end and I hoped it would not. I had read a series by Allan W. Eckert many years ago. One volume was the Frontiersman and the series might have been called the Winning of America. I knew as soon as I saw the author I would love this book and it did not disappoint. Some of this book were tales previously covered in those earlier books. I like that Eckert showe "That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley" is as good as historical fiction gets. The book seemed like it would never end and I hoped it would not. I had read a series by Allan W. Eckert many years ago. One volume was the Frontiersman and the series might have been called the Winning of America. I knew as soon as I saw the author I would love this book and it did not disappoint. Some of this book were tales previously covered in those earlier books. I like that Eckert showed both sides in the long conflict. I must have missed the Boonesboro siege but the history seemed thoroughly covered. The descriptions of the battles were sometimes too cruel and bloody but that was no fault of the author. I love the French and Indian Wars period the most in history. Eckert did well to cover the beautiful solitude, the savagery displayed by both sides, the many interesting personalities and even a good overall look at how the small picture fit into with the long-term history. The strategies were touched on just enough to be quite fulfilling.

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