REVIEWS
The book is set in Colonial North Carolina and
Virginia. It is the tale of a young Saponi Indian,
son of a chief, who, instead of becoming a
traditional warrior, makes a perilous trek to the
College  of William and Mary at the Virginia
governor’s invitation. There he will learn
English and become a “go-between,” an
interpreter. On his trek to Williamsburg he
meets and is smitten by a beautiful young
Indian maiden from another tribe but must
leave her and journey on.

While he struggles with the strange world of
the English, she is captured and traded to
another tribe in the wilds of the Blue Ridge
Mountains. “Dangerous Differences” goes on
to describe his hazardous role in
peacemaking between white settlers and
Indians, and his quest to reunite with the
lovely young woman.

Advance reviewers have praised Laird’s novel.

KIRKUS REVIEW

American Indians and colonial settlers
struggle to understand each other in Virginia
of 1700.In just a few years, the Saponi Indian
tribe has lost half of its people to war and the
white man’s sickness.To make matters worse,
it’s facing increasing pressure from more
powerful Iroquois and Tuscarora raiders, and,
of  course, from the endless wave of
European advancement. Unsure of how to
meet these challenges, the Saponi chief
sends his 13-year-old son, Kadomico, to
school in Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia.

This fast-paced work of historical fiction from
Laird (Quail High Above the Shenandoah,
2006) then follows Kadomico and other Indian
students as they learn more about the
English, their “firesticks,” their “talking
papers” and their religion. Meanwhile,
Tuscarora raiders attack a defenseless
Nahyssan village and capture a girl on whom
Kadomico has a wild crush. Laird vividly
describes daily life in 1700 for both colonists
and Indians and peppers in some suspenseful
fight scenes. . . .

. . . Laird captures the spirit of the time. His
characters, both Indian and white, are
overwhelmingly brave,competent and
interested in helping their fellow humans (not
counting one group of drunken white yokels
and the troublemaking Tuscarora). This is
mostly a feel-good book. . . .

A worthwhile read that focuses on the daily
lives of Indians and colonists.

From the Virginia Gazette, Robert Shultis'
Review:

"DANGEROUS DIFFERENCES"

The Perfect Title for a Great Novel
For many history buffs, myself included,
history can come alive, almost on a person-to-
person basis, when we read a well-written,
well-researched historical novel.  Think, for
example, of some of the Shaara's novels of
the Civil War and World War II.  Or try Erich
Maria Remarque's classic, "All Quiet on the
Western Front". There are, of course, many
others.
Now, a Williamsburg resident, Mac Laird, has
written a marvelous novel, describing a
period, and the people involved, about which
many of us know little or nothing.  The apt title
of his work is: "Dangerous Differences".  Mr.
Laird brings to life the personal agonies,
frustrations, tragedies and a few triumphs of
people living during a critical period in
American history.
The book describes, largely through the
activities of its fictional characters, the years
around 1700, mostly in the area in and around
what was then the Virginia Colony.  
Williamsburg citizens, of course, appear
prominently in the book, but so, too, do those
inhabitants of the western edges of the
Virginia Colony.  Those were the natives who
lived in what the author refers to as "the
Eastern Woodlands".  Here is where the title
of Laird's book comes in.  .  . the different  
cultures, philosophies and ways of living, not
only between the English colonists and the
Native Americans, but also among the
Colonists themselves, and among the many
different Indian tribes that inhabited the area.
It was not an easy life for anyone. It was
"DANGEROUS"!
Members of a dozen or more Indian tribes
lived in those "Woodlands".  Each tribe was a
separate entity, all with different objectives,
beliefs, hates and loves that the author
describes in fascinating detail.  The
characters involved in the story range from
the tribal chiefs, to the "head warriors", to the
women of the tribe on down to the youngsters.
Reading this novel has taught me more of the
lives of the "Indians" of that period and that
area, than I've learned from any other source.
Also important to the story, and to our
understanding of the era, are the efforts of the
part of some  of the colonists and some of the
Indians to understand each other better, to
work together, to satisfy each other's needs
and to avoid or minimize the brutal struggles
between the two groups that occurred all too
frequently.  Here is where a leading fictional
character in the book plays an important role.
Kadomico, a teen-age son of Chief Custoga,
of the Saponi Tribe, is selected with two other
young men to attend a special program at the
College of William and Mary in response to an
invitation from Governor Nicholson and his
associates.  The objective of the program is to
develop better communication links between
the English Settlers and the Native
Americans, by exposing key Native young
men to some of the ideas and philosophy of
their new neighbors, the English settlers.  A
significant portion of the novel covers
Kadomico's experiences in this situation in
fascinating detail. Kadomico became a
different person, but not necessarily the way
either the English or his own family wanted
him and his two colleagues to become.
Reading about these adventures and many
more should keep the reader enthralled right
up to the end of the book.  And, the reader
(this reader for one) will probably have
learned more about life among the Indian
tribes than he ever knew before.  "Dangerous
Differences" is a beautifully-written history
about those early struggles in Virginia,
something I have not read in such vivid detail
anyplace else.  I extend my appreciation and
thanks to Mr. Laird for writing such an
engaging, well-researched and informative
story. I recommend it highly.

                                                      Robert  L.
Shultis
                                                       July 18,
2010

MORE REVIEWS     

Dr. John Conlee, professor of English at
William and Mary and author of King Arthur
young-adult novels, said, “A terrific book. Vivid
writing of outdoor and wilderness scenes. A
pleasure to read.”

Katherine Fournier, a Williamsburg author,
wrote, “This is a beautiful story that tells us so
much about the tragedy of the dangerous
differences and the inability of either side to
cope. A passionate, lyrical, searing story of
the American heritage.”  

Sally Stiles, author, poet and creative writing
instructor, writes "An exciting story, beautifully
told. Laird's historically accurate novel offers
the reader an opportunity to fully engage in
the poignant struggles between the pre-
revolutionary colonists and the native
Americans who they so brutally displaced.
Kadomico is as enchanting and charismatic a
character as you will find in historical fiction."

Aleck Loker, retired physicist, author, and
lecturer on colonial and pre-colonial life in
Virginia, writes, "Wonderful descriptions of life
among the Indian tribes, the wilderness, and
Indian/settler conflicts."

Dr. Alastair Connell, physician, author,
teacher, and lecturer, wrote, "...this [Laird's]
novel is quite beautiful….a love story there
with such dignity yet with such constrained
desire…order and sense of respect for
cultural norms that has been largely lost on
our frenetic society....  it makes a refreshing
reading."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR      

Mac Laird left his life on a small farm in the
Louisiana Kitsatchi National Forest and joined
the Navy in 1944. He served in Asiatic Pacific
and Philippine war zones as a radioman in the
amphibious forces. After a career in
telecommunications with the U.S. Navy, taking
a degree in business from University of
Maryland and doing graduate work in
business management at George Mason in
Washington, D.C., Mac Laird found his niche
in America’s Eastern Woodlands and began to
build with the natural materials from the land
in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In time,
he started writing about that land and the
people. His first book, "Quail High Above the
Shenandoah” (2007) gives a vivid account of
building with logs. His second, “Dangerous
Differences” leads the reader through the
wonders of the mountains, rivers, and forests
of Virginia and North Carolina and introduces
the troubling differences between the frontier
Indians and settlers of the new world.
Return to Home Page
DANGEROUS
DIFFERENCE
S
CHRISTANNA
(From Patriots
Press)
March, 2014
KIRKUS REVIEW OF CHRISTANNA

A historical novel set in Colonial Virginia.

In his sequel to Dangerous Differences
(2010), Laird describes the players and
events leading up to the establishment of
Fort Christanna in southern Virginia in the
early 1700s. Zack Hunter is a slave on a
colonial Virginia plantation, Kadomico is a
warrior member of the Saponi Native
American tribe who has been educated in
Williamsburg, Sam Layton is a white member
of the Shawnee Tribe, and Seth Jackson is
an indentured servant looking forward to the
day he becomes a free man. Together with
the women who love them as well as actual
historical figures, these men help tell the
story of how a fort was established in the
Virginia wilderness, which brought white
settlers and Native Americans together in a
temporary partnership. While these four men
come from different backgrounds and have
very different goals, Fort Christanna draws
them together and proves to be a positive
event in their lives, giving them freedom, a
stable future and, for some of them, helping
raise their standings in their own particular
communities. There are obstacles—threat of
attack by Native American tribes as well as
the challenges of dealing with the Colonial
government and ruthless slave overseers—
but the men are able to overcome these
threats as they build their future at Fort
Christanna. The novel covers a span of
roughly five years with a wide cast of
characters, though the different storylines are
handled well and tied together nicely. . . . the
story moves along swiftly, with a nice
balance between personal relationships and
historical events.

A well-researched, engaging novel that
presents an interesting vision of early
Colonial life from the view of some of
Virginia’s earliest residents. Kirkus review.
A historical novel set in Colonial Virginia. In
his sequel to Dangerous Differences (2010),
Laird describes the players and events
leading up to the establishment of Fort
Christanna in southern Virginia in the early
1700s . Zack Hunter is a slave on a colonial
Virginia plantation, Kadomico is a warrior
member of the Saponi Native American tribe
who has been educated in Williamsburg. Sam
Layton is a white member of the Shawnee
tribe, and Seth Jackson is an indentured
servant looking forward to the day he
becomes a free man. Together with the
women who love them as well as actual
historical figures, these men help tell the
story of how a fort was established in the
Virginia wilderness, which brought white
settlers and Native Americans together in a
temporary partnership. While these four men
come from different backgrounds and have
very different goals, Fort Christanna draws
them together and proves to be a positive
event in their lives, giving them freedom, a
stable future and, for some of them, helping
raise their standings in their own particular
communities. There are obstacles; threat of
attack by Native American tribes as well as
the challenges of dealing with the Colonial
government and ruthless slave overseers, but
the men are able to overcome these threats
as they build their future at Fort Christanna.
The novel covers a span of roughly five years
with a wide cast of characters, though the
different story lines are handled well and tied
together nicely. . . .the story moves along
swiftly with a nice balance between personal
relationships and historical events. A
well-researched, engaging novel that
presents an interesting vision of early
Colonial life from the view of some of
Virgina's earliest residents.  
Patriots Press