THE EARTH SHALL WEEP by James Wilson

THE EARTH SHALL WEEP

A History of Native America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sweeping, well-written, long-view history of American Indian societies. Wilson, a British writer for television and radio documentaries, does a creditable job of interpreting the Native American past and present for his intended European readers, although he misses a few references that are familiar to Americans and has to explain a few others that we take for granted on these shores. But mostly, he gets it right—while also taking up some themes that American scholars have overlooked, especially European Enlightenment views of the “noble savage” and ideas that some unknown historical force propelled the European conquerors of America to “subdue the wilderness and supplant the ‘Indian”’ “who, those views had it, was somehow stuck at a lower stage of cultural development than any enjoyed by the newcomers. Although he relies heavily on the work of revisionist historians, such as the Sioux scholar Vine Deloria, Wilson takes care to examine a wide range of scholarly materials (about which he offers some nicely barbed commentary); based on these sources, he reconsiders such matters as the Indian population of North America at the time of the European arrival, which he believes has been seriously underestimated in number by some millions of inhabitants. Wilson sometimes falls into confusion, as do many of his American counterparts, when dealing with such notoriously complex subjects as the fluid post-WWII status of Indian nations vis-Ö-vis the federal government; and he misses several important events in recent Indian news, such as the revival of the American Indian Movement in the mid-1990s. But in the main, his is a trustworthy telling of a sad epic of misunderstanding, mayhem, and massacre.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-87113-730-5
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999




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