A first-rate investigation into a little-known episode of the Indian Wars. Although it raged for nearly a decade and cost a few hundred lives, Utah’s Black Hawk War is rarely mentioned in histories of the American West. In that war, a Ute elder named Black Hawk gathered an army of Utes, Shoshones, Navajos, and Paiutes and attacked Mormon livestock-raising settlements throughout central and southern Utah, determined to drive the ranchers from their country. The conflict was little advertised as it was happening, even within Utah, writes Peterson, in large part because the Mormon Church carefully disguised its existence; Brigham Young and other church leaders feared that the federal government would use the Indian uprising as a pretext to send in troops who, after the Indians had been properly chastised, might turn their attention to polygamists and other of the territory’s nonconformists. Quietly, then, Mormon militiamen battled Black Hawk’s people in a war that, Peterson holds, was “an anomaly in Western history.” It was an anomaly because in the territories bordering Utah frenzied campaigns against Indians were then being mounted (after a couple of miners were murdered in Colorado in 1863, for instance, federal troops slaughtered hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapahos in the Sand Creek Massacre), and by comparison Utah’s actions were conducted with much restraint. It was also an anomaly because Brigham Young’s agents, convinced that the Indians were somehow connected to the so-called lost tribes of Israel, sought to make peace at every turn and labored “to encourage the Latter-day Saints to lay down their vengeful feelings.” The frontier artist George Catlin, Peterson reveals, even went so far as to propose a grand Mormon-Indian alliance to battle the federal government as “mutual protection against the invading military forces which are entering the great Far West on every side.” That alliance never materialized. Neither, however, did the anti-Indian reprisals and vendettas that occurred elsewhere in 19th-century America. Although it is a lightly revised doctoral dissertation, Peterson’s book is accessible to—and highly recommended for—all readers with an interest in western history.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-87480-583-X

Page Count: 362

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

Did you like this book?