Reviewed by Mark Meuwese
At a time of year when many New Yorkers spend their days at the beach, it may be fitting to ponder Andrew Lipman’s fascinating new book, The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast (Yale University Press, 2015). Lipman, who teaches history at Barnard College of Columbia University, recently won a Bancroft Prize for this, his first published book, and it is an impressive and entirely well-deserved accomplishment. The young scholar approaches the subject of Europeans encounters with the Algonquian-speaking peoples of coastal New York and New England in a wholly novel way. Instead of situating the story of intercultural relations on land, as historians traditionally do, Lipman demonstrates that the actual stage and struggle for power was decided on coastal waters. Additionally, he convincingly shows that the histories of coastal New York and southern New England share many commonalities, and need to be treated as one region.
By Benjamin Feldman
One afternoon this past winter, I and my new friend Bill drove over from his Jersey home to the northeast corner of Inwood, looking for something very special. We parked on 9th Avenue just north of 207th Street, next to the municipal bus garage. To the north, a fence blocked our way to the river bank, where Captain Moffat’s yard once stood. There’s no public access now to the rotting ghost-piles. But Bill and I peered through the chain link at the grimy water and the remnants of a pier under which he swam as a child as he reminisced about the water quality, even worse fifty years ago than today.
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