I have been taking notes from a great book that I have decided will be (along with my A.P. textbook) the cornerstone of my teaching of the American Colonial period in my Advanced Placement class. Alan Taylor’s book American Colonies: The Settling of North America (The Penguin History of the United States, Volume1) (Hist of the USA) is in my opinion exceptional. He goes into sufficient detail, intertwines interesting tidbits and details, but most important is even keel and straightforward for the most part. For example, when Taylor discusses something controversial like pre-1492 Indian population, he talks about the “low-counters” and “high-counters” and discusses how scholarship on the topic has evolved and then comes to a very scholarly opinion. Very good!
The book is broken up into parts, first he starts with some pre-Colombian information and then moves into the first encounters with Europeans. He finishes with the establishment of America and its pre-Empire beginnings. The narrative is engaging and most importantly a lot of great material and well researched. I highly recommend it!