The title poses a question that the author never answers in this overview of the impact of American Indian contact with Europeans and their descendants from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
The author begins inauspiciously by giving equal weight to the opinions of history professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a specialist in indigenous history who endorses the view that the Native experience qualifies as genocide, and Rod D. Martin, a CEO and hedge fund manager, who disagrees. Beginning with the arrival of Columbus and abruptly ending with the Wounded Knee massacre, Haugen relies almost exclusively on non-Native sources and draws heavily on commentary by non-scholars. His convoluted and dense prose will not engage readers. While the book clearly elucidates inhumane official policies calling for forcible assimilation or eradication of Native Americans, it attempts to provide equal weight for the viewpoint that the term “genocide” is not justified. Sources cited for this view include film critic Michael Medved and political scientist Guenter Lewy (who is known for arguing that “genocide” is not accurate when applied to the case of the Armenians). Ultimately, despite its provocative title, the book fails to endorse either side of the argument, leaving readers perplexed.
Far better-researched and engagingly written sources on this topic exist; not recommended. (source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)