The Old American by Ernest Hebert
A Novel (Hardscrabble Books-Fiction of New England)

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In 1746, Nathan Blake, the first frame house builder in Keene, New Hampshire, was abducted by Algonkians and held in Canada as a slave. Inspired by this dramatic slice of history, novelist Ernest Hebert has written a masterful new novel recreating those years of captivity.

Set in New England and Canada during the French and Indian Wars, The Old American is driven by its complex, vividly imagined title character, Caucus-Meteor. By turns shrewd and embittered, ambitious and despairing, inspired and tormented, he is the self-styled "king" of the remnants of the first native tribes that encountered the English. Displaced and ravaged by disease, these refugees have been forced to bargain for land in Canada on which to live. Having hired himself out as interpreter to a raiding party of French and Iroquois, Caucus-Meteor returns from New Hampshire the unexpected possessor of a captive, Nathan Blake.

He decides to bring the Englishman to his own village rather than sell him to the French. Ambivalent about his former life, Blake gradually fits into the routine of Conissadawaga. Meanwhile, Caucus-Meteor struggles to protect his people from the rapacious French governor. Constantly plotting and maneuvering, burdened by responsibility, the Old American exhibits cunning and courage. A gifted linguist who was forbidden to learn to read or write; a former slave who is now a king; a native leader who has seen more of London and Paris than his English captive, who knows more of European politics than the French colonial administrators, Caucus-Meteor is a brilliant, cantankerous, visionary figure whom readers will long remember.

About Ernest Hebert

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ERNEST HEBERT teaches writing at Dartmouth College, where he is Associate Professor of English. UPNE has reissued four books from his "Darby" series, including Live Free or Die and The Dogs of March, about which New York Times Book Review wrote, "The book rises or falls on the strength of Howard Elman, and this man could hold up a house. By turns tormented, funny, poignant and appalling, he lodges in the memory.
Published May 4, 2012 by Dartmouth College Press. 304 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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And in the moving climax and coda, the latter set a half-century after Nathan Blake’s capture, we see the white and Native American “worlds” poised together in what the Old American had previously called a “reuniting ceremony.” A brilliant work, destined to be one of the great American historical...

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Publishers Weekly

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His first novel in seven years once again shows Hebert (The Dogs of War) as a meticulously accurate and inspired author of character-driven literary fiction. Again using the sharply observed setting o

Sep 04 2000 | Read Full Review of The Old American: A Novel (Ha...

Publishers Weekly

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Again using the sharply observed setting of New England, he goes back in time to create an unforgettable character in Caucus-Meteor, interpreter, visionary, king and ""old American."" The Algonkian chief is central to this mesmerizing captivity narrative set during the French and Indian Wars and ...

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The Best Reviews

In 1736, Indians are watching Nathan Blake through the windows of Blake's cabin.

Nov 02 2003 | Read Full Review of The Old American: A Novel (Ha...

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