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An American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears Hardcover – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805089551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805089554
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The story of the Cherokee Nation is a study in suffering, displacement, and the determination of a people to carry on despite brutal government policies that culminated in the ‘Trail of Tears,’ President Andrew Jackson’s 1834 policy of ‘removal’ that saw nearly 4,000 of the 16,000 Cherokees die on their forced migration from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to the Oklahoma Territory. Smith opens his thoughtful, concise and detailed study of this brutal chapter in the age of Jackson with a stirring account of the assassination of three Cherokee leaders—Elias Boudinot, Major Ridge, and his son, John Ridge—by Cherokee political rivals…The personalities, political realities, and murderous resentments that stemmed from that treaty make for engrossing reading and a vivid evocation of how the Cherokees’ options dwindled until no promising choices for this strong and cohesive people remained."—PW

“Is a patriot's duty to demand the absolute rights of his or her people to the end? Or is it more heroic to negotiate the best possible terms when faced with an inevitable defeat? This troubling question hangs heavy over Daniel Blake Smith's intriguing An American Betrayal, a detailed history of the Trail of Tears, the brutal forced relocation of the Cherokee people from their ancestral homeland in the southeast to the western territory that is now Oklahoma.”—Shelf Awareness

"A vivid new history of the 19th-century Cherokee removal and the Trail of Tears. . . . The difference between Smith's account and other similar histories is the emphasis on infighting within the Cherokee leadership, who faced a difficult choice: Should they fight the forced removal by facing massive armies assembled by the American government, or negotiate the best possible terms while relocating peaceably? Neither answer was obviously correct, giving the narrative a tension that Smith develops skillfully. Cherokee leaders such as John Ross, Elias Boudinot, John Ridge and Major Ridge come alive on the page. Numerous little-known Caucasians also emerge as brave defenders of Cherokee humanitarian and land rights. . . . Well-written, well-researched."—Kirkus

"By examining the history of the Cherokee removal from the Southeast (the Trail of Tears) through the prism of Cherokee patriotism, Smith provides a distinct and refreshing perspective that sets this title apart from the many other books on the topic. Smith sympathizes with Chief John Ross and his faction, showing that their patriotism was evident because they refused to cede their ancestral homelands to the United States…readers will find this an enlightening take on an oft-told story. Readers should also obtain Black Indians: An American Story and The Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy, two documentaries written by Smith."—Library Journal

"Smith has successfully written a history of ugliness that transcends the usual battlefield reports to examine the guts of nationhood and moral governance."—Steve Weinberg, St. Louis Dispatch

"The Trail of Tears was "a devastating commentary not only on white greed and power but also on the increasing racialized world of Jacksonian America," [Smith] concludes in this splendid re-creation of it and the awful circumstances that made it inevitable."—The Dallas Morning News

"[Smith’s] treatment of a time of grief should make Cherokees today proud to be part of a heritage of people who survived in spite of a concerted effort by the United States government to strip them of their land and culture."—Native News Network

"This book provides interesting new insights and facts about this well-known tragedy in American history, which makes the anti-Native American sentiment prevalent in that era even more baffling to readers today."—The Peorian

About the Author

Daniel Blake Smith is the author of An American Betrayal, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
`An American Betrayal' does cover the Trail of Tears, which Daniel Smith says, "no one wanted, let alone planned for, Cherokees to die". One of the major tragedies of the whole removal process for all tribes was that almost no one cared. That is illustrated in this recounting; but the main focus is the politics within the Cherokee tribe itself and most notably the view of those who advocated within the tribe for removal - that it would save them as a people. The land, although precious and sacred was secondary to the tribe's survival. Which was more important, your home or your peoples' survival? - This view can be a revelation to some who believe that John Ross was the individual hero, the right and correct thinking leader. This book brings a balance to the other viewpoint of those who, although they did not want to leave their land, believed that they would have to, in order to endure.

All American Indians have been faced with the dilemma of the white man's belief that the only good and acceptable moral civilization was the white civilization. We see, in these pages another example that; never have a people been lied to and cheated out of what is rightfully theirs, as the Native Americans.
Many of the facts and stories in this recounting are not new and the horrid treatment of the Cherokees is described in detail. Those who were sympathetic to their plight are also encompassed in the narrative. The beliefs of the Cherokees concerning rivers is recounted also, leading to many refusing to use the boats that were, at some points available. The particulars of the Trail of Tears are not really the focus.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Essbee on March 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears is a good read, and at less than 300 pages of text with a large font, much quicker to read and with less detail than you might expect. I was struck during my reading from the early pages how many redundancies there are in thought and in some cases, in phrases and sentences that appear in more than one place in the book. Also, some names, when mentioned the first time, offer the expected brief on who they are, while other names are not given identities until later. Some names are brought up more than once as if never having been mentioned before. At least one first name changes after first mention (Isaiah Bunce becomes Jedediah Bunce). It became sort of a game to flip back to earlier pages to find where I read something before, just to make sure I wasn't nuts. It seems that the research that went into this book was too quickly fashioned into book form, and too quickly edited. There are a handful of typos as well. Still, I enjoyed the subject matter and Smith's writing style is bouncy and engaging. I've not read any previous books about the Trail of Tears, which this book isn't really about at all--it's more about the infighting among the Cherokees that led to that event and that lingered after it--so I still feel like I need to read something a little more definitive about that event.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Keniston on July 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was somewhat disappointed in his writing style. He repeats himself a lot, in fact I think the book would have been a lot shorter if he had cut out all the repetitions! It was informative.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert V. Rose on March 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a most important contribution to anyone who is interested in American history.

I live in northwest Georgia, not far from New Echota and the Etowah Indian mounds. The house I live in is on land once granted "in perpetuity" to the Cherokees. Gold was discovered in "them thar hills" not far away in Dalonega, but it unfortunately petered out before it became terribly important (at least subsequently).

I am also interested in history, particularyly American history, and for this reason I found the book doubly interesting.

I found this book fascinatingly interesting. The tension and conflict between Cherokees who wanted to move west and those determined to stay is most interesting, and probably typical of many conflicts over land and culture in the world today.
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Format: Hardcover
I love the story but hate that it took place at all.
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More About the Author

Daniel Blake Smith is a writer who loves to tell true, compelling American stories. Raised in the north Texas town of Wolfe City and educated at Oklahoma State University and the University of Virginia (where he received his doctorate in American history), Smith is the author of several books, most recently a new book about the epic internal battles in Indian country that culminated in the epic tragedy of forced removal: An American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears (Henry Holt). He's also the co-author of a critical narrative story about early Virginia, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown (Henry Holt). Formerly a professor of American History at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he writes books and makes films.