Geography furnishes us with the underpinnings of history. This book merges those two disciplines and adds a third: biography. We follow the expansion of the U.S. by means of surveys and maps, but also through the career of our greatest early surveyor.
Andrew Ellicott not only ran the lines of our southern and northern borders, but he also confirmed our western boundary on the Mississippi by pressuring the stubborn Spanish to withdraw their troops from forts at Natchez and Vicksburg. Ellicott is an interesting figure whose life story prevents much of Linklater’s discussion of borders and boundaries from reading like a textbook. Academese does trickle in, especially during Linklater’s digressive attack on Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis” as myth.
—Richard H. Dillon