Early praise for Massacre on the Merrimack:

“Jay Atkinson is one of my favorite writers, and Massacre on the Merrimack, detailing an important yet little-known episode of captivity and revenge in colonial-era Massachusetts, benefits from his accomplished writing and keen-eyed historical perspective.” —Chuck Hogan, author of The Town

“A riveting and thrilling narrative of savagery, murder, and revenge…Atkinson also provides a nuanced perspective on the deeply troubling relationship between whites and Indians during the early years of the American experience. This book is an excellent read.” —Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan and Fur, Fortune, and Empire

“A strong sense of place and vivid narration….Atkinson’s storytelling skills are superb.” —Publishers Weekly

“Drawing on archival documents and contemporary and recent histories, Atkinson has written a compelling narrative.”


Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America

Lyons Press is proud to announce the October 1, 2015 release of Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston’s Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America, by Jay Atkinson (978-1-4930-0322-8, $27.95 hardcover).

Early on March 15, 1697, a band of Abenaki raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Abenaki killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant by dashing her head against a tree. After a forced march of nearly one hundred miles, Duston and two companions were transferred to a smaller band of Abenaki, who camped on a tiny island located at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, several miles north of present day Concord, New Hampshire. The Abenaki intended to make the captives run the gauntlet at their village in Quebec, after which they would be sold as slaves.

This was the height of King William’s War, both a war of terror and a religious contest, with English Protestantism vying for control of the New World with French Catholicism. The fact that the two religions could not have worshipped a more similar God is an ironic footnote to the carnage that would ensue.

After witnessing her infant’s murder, Duston resolved to get even. Two weeks into their captivity, Duston and her companions, a fifty-one-year-old woman and a twelve-year-old boy, moved among the sleeping Abenaki with tomahawks and knives, killing two men, two women, and six children. After returning to the bloody scene alone to scalp their victims, Duston and the others escaped down the Merrimack River in a stolen canoe. They braved treacherous waters and the constant threat of attack and recapture, returning to tell their story and collect a bounty for the scalps.

Was Hannah Duston the prototypical feminist avenger, or the harbinger of the Native American genocide? In this exquisitely researched and riveting narrative, bestselling author Jay Atkinson sheds new light on the early struggle for North America.

More praise for Massacre on the Merrimack:

“Colonial history told as a thriller” —Lou Ureneck, author of The Great Fire

“A fitting memorial to an extraordinary woman, whose story is finally, and brilliantly, told here.” —Alex Beam, Boston Globe columnist and author of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and The Fate of the Mormon Church

“Anyone interested in the earliest origins of the United States will want to read this dread-filled tale of greed, violence—and amazing courage on all sides.” —Lisa Alther, author of Blood Feud

 About the author:

Jay Atkinson, called “the bard of New England toughness” by Men’s Health magazine, is the author of eight books. Caveman Politics was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program selection and a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award; Ice Time was a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of the Year and a New England Independent Bookseller’s Association bestseller; and Legends of Winter Hill spent seven weeks on the Boston Globe hardcover bestseller list. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Newsday and Men’s Health, among other publications. Atkinson teaches writing at Boston University and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. He grew up hearing Hannah Duston’s story in his hometown of Methuen, Massachusetts, which was part of Haverhill until 1726.

About Lyons Press:
Lyons Press authors include some of the foremost experts writing today about American and military history, sports, hunting, fishing, nature and pets. We’re proud to have published early work by mountaineer Jon Krakauer and naturalist Rick Bass, as well as recent best-sellers by National Book Award finalist Domingo Martinez and Big Ten Network host Dave Revsine. Lyons Press is an imprint of Globe Pequot, the trade division of Rowman & Littlefield.