what do you mean by "colonial life"? as in what life was like day to day, "ground up" history, or more broad examinations of major events, impacts, wars, etc. It sounds like the former, so I'll suggest:
Roanoke, The Abandoned Colony, 2nd Ed. (http://www.amazon.com/Roanoke-2nd-Karen-Ordahl-Kupperman/dp/0742552632/ref=pd_sim_b_1) + Indians and English: Facing off in Early America (http://www.amazon.com/Indians-English-Facing-Early-America/dp/0801482828/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4) - both by Karen Ordahl Kupperman.
An absolute classic/must read is _The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (http://www.amazon.com/Unredeemed-Captive-Family-Story-America/dp/0679759611/ref=pd_sim_b_9)_
A good broad history is Alan Taylor's American Colonies: The Settling of North America (http://www.amazon.com/American-Colonies-Settling-America-Penguin/dp/0142002100/ref=pd_sim_b_12)
One of the best books I've ever read, period, is Jill Lepore's The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (http://www.amazon.com/Name-War-Philips-American-Identity/dp/0375702628/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274929280&sr=1-2)
on the French and Indian War: Fred Anderson's Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America (http://www.amazon.com/Crucible-War-British-America-1754-1766/dp/0375706364/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274929616&sr=1-1), 1754-1766 is hard to beat.
James Merrell, Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier (http://www.amazon.com/Into-American-Woods-Negotiations-Pennsylvania/dp/0393319768/ref=pd_sim_b_10) is well written and pretty fascinating in its own right. Likewise, Alan Taylor's William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (http://www.amazon.com/William-Coopers-Town-Persuasion-Frontier/dp/0679773002/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274929863&sr=1-4) is a classic. a fun history of a very famous town.
And finally, Daniel Richter's Facing East from Indian Country (http://www.amazon.com/Facing-East-Indian-Country-History/dp/0674011171/ref=pd_sim_b_4) is a fascinating read that looks at the colonial period from the Indian's perspective, in effect turning history on it's head. Think about how different the stories are when they are from the perspective of the people who lost everything? Who devised complicated strategies of diplomacy to play the different Europeans off one another, and so on....it's a really cool book and I can't recommend it enough.
that should give you enough to pick from to start...if you have any specific interests, let me know and I can help you out. Since Pre-civil war U.S. was my primary field in grad school, I read over 200 books on the period, some great, most okay, and some that really sucked...I can help stear you away from the sucky ones. feel free to pm me if you want.
be careful with this one, which in my mind isn't worth the paper it's printed on. The author is a British investment banker who wanted to write a history book - and it reads exactly how something with that preface sound like it would. It's "popular history" at it's worst...just a guy who tried to put some stories together with no real coherent narrative to tie it together.
05-26-10, 10:21 PM
oh, and just for something a bit different - I read two great books on the Spanish Conquistadors a couple of months ago:
The Last Days of the Incas (http://www.amazon.com/Last-Days-Incas-Kim-MacQuarrie/dp/074326049X/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in) by Kim MacQuarrie & Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs (http://www.amazon.com/Conquistador-Hernan-Cortes-Montezuma-Aztecs/dp/0553384716/ref=pd_sim_b_7) by Buddy Levy.
The Cortes/Montezuma book was particularly good....both are amazing stories, and what those guys endured is nearly impossible to fathom.
05-26-10, 11:32 PM
Thanks for the suggestion guys, I picked up Aaron Taylor's American Colonies. I will come back to this thread and pick up the other titles. T hanks again!
That would be Alan Taylor's American Colonies :) Thanks for all of the suggestions again!