McConnell, Michael N. 1949-

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McConnell, Michael N. 1949-

PERSONAL:

Born May 25, 1949.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Historian, educator, and writer. University of Alabama at Birmingham, associate professor. Also a consultant to the Fort Ligonier Association, Ligonier, PA.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the David Library of the American Revolution.

WRITINGS:

A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1992.

Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Michael N. McConnell is a historian whose primary interests are colonial North American history and Native American history. His other interests include emergent native societies and the borderlands of colonial North America. McConnell's first book, A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774, published in 1992, examines the Indians who struggled to maintain their autonomy in the Ohio region of eighteenth-century America. The author writes of the Delawares, Shawnees, Iroquois, and other natives who occupied this area and encountered territorial conflicts between the French and the British while struggling for their own sovereignty.

In his introduction to the book the author notes that the tribes were collectively known by the settlers as the Ohio Indians. The author also reflects on how the role that these tribes, and many others, played in early American history has been largely overshadowed by a focus on the Iroquois Confederacy. Commenting that the "myth of the ‘imperial Iroquois’ has largely been demolished," the author notes that the "picture of the northern colonial frontier is still shaped in great measure by the history and diplomacy of the Six Nations and the inclination to assign other Indian societies—including the Ohio Indians—a subordinate status as dependent on the Iroquois Confederacy."

In his 2004 book Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775, the author examines the lives and experience of British soldiers in the complex and rapidly changing cultural frontiers of the West in British America. By the end of the Seven Years' War, Britain's professional army was occupying French settlements in Canada and heading into the trans-Appalachian West, composed mostly of disputed territories claimed by Great Britain, France, and Spain. "McConnell's study differs from most other books on the British military in one important way: instead of focusing on the army during the colonial wars, McConnell explores the role of Britain's peacetime army in the West," wrote Richard Aquila in the Historian.

The author writes in the book's introduction: "From the autumn of 1758, when British and provincial soldiers first entered the lands west of the Appalachians, until 1774, when mounting colonial resistance to parliamentary acts drew most of the army in America to Boston, the protection and the management of the West and its people was a principal concern of the army and its leaders in Whitehall. Much of the permanent force kept in the Americas after 1763 saw service in the West; between 1758 and 1774 fully one-fifth of Britain's infantry regiments spent time standing guard over the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast, and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys in between."

In his book, the author reveals how the British troops served as occupiers, police, and diplomats in a vast territory marked by extreme climatic variation and other vast differences from their homeland. He examines the lives of the soldiers in this complex new environment consisting primarily of peacetime service, including the soldiers' diet and health, mental health, social life, transportation, and clothing, along with where they lived and worked.

"The more fascinating vignettes McConnell highlights are found in his presentation on military society on the frontier (chapter three), especially those that focus on the relationships between husbands and wives in the forts and the lengths taken to stay together under difficult circumstances," noted J. Kent McGaughy in the Canadian Journal of History. Eric Hinderaker, writing in the Journal of Southern History, commented that the author presents a case for a distinct culture and society formed by these British soldiers and their families. In Hinderaker's assessment, "the resulting portrait is informative, even compelling."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

McConnell, Michael N., A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1992.

McConnell, Michael N., Army and Empire: British Soldiers on the American Frontier, 1758-1775, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December, 1994, Carol Green Devens, review of A Country Between, p. 1752; February, 2006, John Grenier, review of Army and Empire, p. 122.

Canadian Journal of History, December, 2005, J. Kent McGaughy, review of Army and Empire, p. 556.

Choice, November, 2005, J.R. Breihan, review of Army and Empire, p. 558.

Historian, summer, 2006, Richard Aquila, review of Army and Empire, p. 395.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, October, 1999, R.A. Burchell, review of A Country Between, p. 672; October, 2006, Jeremy Black, review of Army and Empire, p. 585.

Journal of American History, December, 1993, Francis Jennings, review of A Country Between, p. 1056; December, 2005, Daniel P. Barr, review of Army and Empire, p. 956.

Journal of Military History, July, 2005, John Shy, review of Army and Empire, p. 833.

Journal of Southern History, February, 2006, Eric Hinderaker, review of Army and Empire, p. 161.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, October, 1993, Daniel K. Richter, review of A Country Between, p. 551.

William and Mary Quarterly, July, 1993, Gregory Evans Dowd, review of A Country Between, p. 639.

ONLINE

Department of Social and Behaviorial Sciences, University of Alabama, Birmingham Web site,http://www.sbs.uab.edu/ (April 29, 2008), faculty profile of author.

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