George and Barbara Perkins

Authors and editors.

Selected Works

The most comprehensive single-volume guide to American literature.
A guide to history, terms, and concepts.

Quick Links

Find Authors

Kaleidoscope: Stories of the American Experience

KALEIDOSCOPE: STORIES OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, George Perkins and Barbara Perkins, Oxford University Press,is a multicultural reader featuring diaries, histories, autobiographies, short stories, and selections from novels from the sixteenth century into the twentieth. Most of the selections present-cultural experiences, and each rewards study from literary, historical, and social perspectives. Each is accompanied with a biographical and historical introduction and brief bibliography.


The American Multicultural Experience
Notes Toward Understanding
Textual Notes

Giovanni da Verrazzano, [From] Verrazzano’s Voyage: 1524
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, [From] Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1490-c. 1447)
Samuel de Champlain, [From] Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1618
John Smith, [From] The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles
William Bradford, [From] Of Plymouth Plantation, Book I
Mary Rowlandson, [From] A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
James Smith, [From] An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels of Col. James Smith
Olaudah Equiano, [From] The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.
Charles Johnston, [From] A Narrative of the Incidents Attending the Capture, Detention, and Ransom of Charles Johnston of Virginia
Frances Trollope, [From] Domestic Manners of the Americans
Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle
John James Audubon, The Prairie
William Apes, [From] A Son of the Forest
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Maypole of Merry Mount
William Gilmore Simms, The Two Camps
Harriet Jacobs, [From] Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Frederick Douglass, [From] The Heroic Slave
Francis Parkman, [From] La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West
Rebecca Harding Davis, John Lamar
George Washington Cable, “Posson Jone’”
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, [From] Life among the Piutes
Kate Chopin, La Belle Zoraide
Charles W. Chesnutt, The Sheriff’s Children
Abraham Cahan, Circumstances
Edith Maude Eaton (Sui Sin Far), In the Land of the Free
Ole Rolvaag, [From] Giants in the Earth
Mary Antin, [From], The Promised Land
Zora Neale Hurston, [From] Dust Tracks on the Road
John Joseph Mathews, [From] Wah’Kon-Tah
Michael Gold, [From] Jews without Money
Jean Toomer, Becky
William Faulkner, A Justice
Vladimir Nabokov, [From] Pnin
James T. Farrell, Studs
William Saroyan, Antranik of Armenia
Richard Wright, [From] Black Boy
Jerre Mangione, [From] Mount Allegro
Pietro diDonato, [From] Christ in Concrete
Carlos Bulosan, [From] America Is in the Heart
Ralph Ellison, Flying Home
Saul Bellow, A Silver Dish
Louis Chu, [From] Eat a Bowl of Tea
Yoshiko Uchida, Tears of Autumn
John Okada, [From] No-No Boy
Maya Angelou, [From] I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Nash Candelaria, El Patron
Toni Morison, [From] Sula
Ved Mehta, The Cloud Has Spread Its Dark Hair
N. Scott Momaday, [From] The Way to Rainy Mountain
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Grandfather of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Daniela Gioseffi, Rosa in Television Land
Joseph Geha, News from Phoenix
Charles Johnson, Exchange Value
Leslie Marmon Silko, The Man to Send Rain Clouds
Jamaica Kincaid, Mariah
Amy Tan, Half and Half
Louise Erdrich, The Red Convertible

Sample Author Introduction

James Smith

James Smith was born on the frontier in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At eighteen he joined a crew cutting a road across the Alleghenies for the use of General Edward Braddock’s troops in their planned assault on Fort Duquesne. Captured shortly before Braddock’s defeat, he spent four years living with the Indians, finally escaping in 1759 and making his way back to his family in 1760. Later he married, had seven children, and after his wife’s death married again, a widow with five children. He was at times an Indian fighter, both in the service of the English and as a leader of an irregular group of rangers who defied British law in their attempts to assert the rights of western pioneers. He served in the Revolutionary War, attaining the rank of colonel in 1778, and in 1788 settled in Kentucky. In later years he was a missionary to the Indians of Tennessee.
Smith kept a journal during his captivity and revised it shortly after his return, but waited almost forty years to publish his account, believing, he said, that “at that time the Americans were so little acquainted with Indian affairs I apprehended a great part of it would be viewed as fable or romance.” AN ACCOUNT OF THE REMARKABLE OCCURRENCES IN THE LIFE AND TRAVELS OF COL. JAMES SMITH (1799) tells the story of his captivity and adds material on his later life and campaigns.

The source of the present text is the Ohio Valley Historical Series reprinting of Smith’s ACCOUNT (1870), with an appendix by W. M. Darlington. Spelling has been normalized. Smith also wrote two pamphlets attacking the Shakers (REMARKABLE OCCURRENCES and SHAKERISM DETECTED, both 1810) and A TREATISE ON THE MODE AND MANNER OF INDIAN WAR (1812).