MASTERS OF EMPIRE by Michael A. McDonnell

MASTERS OF EMPIRE

Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A history of the Native American tribes that inhabited the Great Lakes region during early American colonization.

The great tribes like the Iroquois, Sioux, and Huron are well-known to history, but there are still many lesser-known though equally important tribes that remain unrecognized for their vital influences in the development of the American Colonies. As McDonnell (History/Univ. of Sydney; The Politics of War: Race, Class, and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia, 2007) makes clear, chief among these groups was the Anishinaabeg nation of the Great Lakes. Comprised of the Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi, the Anishinaabeg settled principally in Michilimackinac near the Strait of Mackinac, which separates Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. As a strategic chokepoint between the Great Lakes, Michilimackinac’s location had both spiritual and political significance to its people. Most notable among the Anishinaabeg’s geopolitical influence was their role in the development of the fur trade and supply chain that brought the prized pelts from the remote outposts of the American interior to French colonial settlements along the St. Lawrence River, crucially aiding the imperial efforts of the French crown. As a political force in the region, the Anishinaabeg’s influence was critical in forging allegiances during the Seven Years’ War, ultimately reshaping the imperial politics in the Americas. McDonnell skillfully captures the history of the group from the 17th century through the early 19th century, restoring the nation’s legacy and filling in a vital historical link in the timeline of the Americas—and the maps at the beginning help readers orient geographically. Though the Anishinaabeg were able to maneuver around many of the pitfalls that other Native American tribes suffered, such as alcoholism and the declining fur trade, they still could not stave off the inevitable forced removal from their lands by Euro-Americans.

Engrossing and authoritative, McDonnell’s rich history is academic in nature but welcoming to lay readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 8th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8090-2953-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2015




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