An essential work of Indigenous studies that calls for rethinking North American history generally.

A vigorous, provocative study of Native American history by one of its most accomplished practitioners.

Finnish historian Hämäläinen, professor of American history at Oxford, is a noted student of Native American systems of governance and commerce. In this follow-up to Lakota America, the author focuses on the long war between Indigenous peoples and alliances with the European colonial powers. “By 1776,” he writes, “various European colonial powers together claimed nearly all of the continent for themselves, but Indigenous peoples and powers controlled it.” That changed following the Revolutionary War, when Americans began to spill over the Appalachians, spreading the American empire at the expense of empires maintained by such various peoples as the Comanche, Lakota, and Shoshone. Hämäläinen uses the idea of Indigenous empires advisedly. With solid archaeological support, he ventures that the great Ancestral Puebloan stone building called Pueblo Bonito could very well have been built by slave labor, while at Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis, the “commercial hinterland extended from the Great Lakes to the Gulf coast and the Appalachians,” constituting a vast, complex trade network. Against railroads and repeating rifles, such empires tumbled; against miscomprehension and assumption, peace was out of the question from the very beginning. The table was barely cleared at the first Thanksgiving when the newly arrived Puritans “thought that the sachem”—the hereditary leader of the Wampanoag Confederacy—“could be reduced to a subject of the king of England.” It didn’t help that these Native empires were often pitted against each other until reservations and small corners of the continent were all that was left—those and the Canadian subarctic, which long after “endured as an Indigenous world.” Even then, however, “it was not an Indigenous paradise; the contest for furs, guns, and merchandise fueled chronic animosities, collisions, and open wars.” Throughout, the author resurrects important yet often obscured history, creating a masterful narrative that demands close consideration.

An essential work of Indigenous studies that calls for rethinking North American history generally.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63149-699-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


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


Deliberately provocative, with much for left-inclined activists to ponder.

A wide-ranging critique of leftist politics as not being left enough.

Continuing his examination of progressive reform movements begun with The Cult of Smart, Marxist analyst deBoer takes on a left wing that, like all political movements, is subject to “the inertia of established systems.” The great moment for the left, he suggests, ought to have been the summer of 2020, when the murder of George Floyd and the accumulated crimes of Donald Trump should have led to more than a minor upheaval. In Minneapolis, he writes, first came the call from the city council to abolish the police, then make reforms, then cut the budget; the grace note was “an increase in funding to the very department it had recently set about to dissolve.” What happened? The author answers with the observation that it is largely those who can afford it who populate the ranks of the progressive movement, and they find other things to do after a while, even as those who stand to benefit most from progressive reform “lack the cultural capital and economic stability to have a presence in our national media and politics.” The resulting “elite capture” explains why the Democratic Party is so ineffectual in truly representing minority and working-class constituents. Dispirited, deBoer writes, “no great American revolution is coming in the early twenty-first century.” Accommodation to gradualism was once counted heresy among doctrinaire Marxists, but deBoer holds that it’s likely the only truly available path toward even small-scale gains. Meanwhile, he scourges nonprofits for diluting the tax base. It would be better, he argues, to tax those who can afford it rather than allowing deductible donations and “reducing the availability of public funds for public uses.” Usefully, the author also argues that identity politics centering on difference will never build a left movement, which instead must find common cause against conservatism and fascism.

Deliberately provocative, with much for left-inclined activists to ponder.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016015

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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