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Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature Hardcover – February 10, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700616314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700616312
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,307,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A clear, coherent, provocative reconsideration of Catlin that challenges readers to reexamine their perceptions of the artist; to explore their understanding of nineteenth-century American attitudes toward expansion, Indians, and nature; and to contemplate how underlying intellectual attitudes and epistemologies may shape and constrain social criticism, including our own." George Miles, coeditor of Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past "Hausdoerffer's innovative and richly suggestive book leaves no question or controversy surrounding Catlin unexplored. His compelling answers to those questions alone make this rewarding reading for scholars working in environmental studies, environmental ethics, American studies, and ecocriticism." Joni Adamson, author of American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice and Ecocriticism"

From the Back Cover

"A clear, coherent, provocative reconsideration of Catlin that challenges readers to reexamine their perceptions of the artist; to explore their understanding of nineteenth-century American attitudes toward expansion, Indians, and nature; and to contemplate how underlying intellectual attitudes and epistemologies may shape and constrain social criticism, including our own."--George Miles, coeditor of Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past

"Hausdoerffer's innovative and richly suggestive book leaves no question or controversy surrounding Catlin unexplored. His compelling answers to those questions alone make this rewarding reading for scholars working in environmental studies, environmental ethics, American studies, and ecocriticism."--Joni Adamson, author of American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice and Ecocriticism

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
During his presidency, Andrew Jackson formulated a plan for the removal of many of the American Indian Tribes residing east of the Mississippi River. The plan was controversial at the time and remains so. Removal was poorly planned and poorly implemented resulting in illness and loss of life to many Indians. The Removal was part of Jacksonian Democracy, in the sense that it was designed to free lands for public settlement and create opportunity for personal and economic freedom for many Americans.
Settlement led to despoiliation of nature, pollution, the extinction of species such as the buffalo and passenger pigeon, the ravaging of forests, among other environmental destruction. For Hausdoerffer, the much-vaunted Jacksonian Democracy also led to an expansion of slavery and to the economic exploitation of women.

During the Jacksonian Era, the American painter George Catlin ((1796 -- 1872) travelled West from St. Louis in a series of five trips between 1830 -- 1836. Catlin visited over 40 Indian tribes and painted a lengthy series of portraits and scenes of nature designed to capture the dignity of Indian people, the value of their culture, and the beauty of the western landscape. Following the completion of his western trips, Catlin made many unsuccessful attempts to sell his paintings, called his "Indian Gallery" to the Federal government. Catlin visited Europe and wrote a good deal about his travels to the West and about his thoughts on Indians and nature. Catlin's "Indian Gallery" is now owned by the Smithsonian. I have had the privilege of seeing and reflecting on it many times in Washington, D.C.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Boll Weevil on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I must dissent from the above reviews and w/ those on the back of the book's jacket. The topic of the book is excellent, really overdue in many ways. But I was disappointed w/ the quality of the research and of the writing.

This book is very ambitious in the variety of fields it attempts to engage, and its bibliography isn't up to this ambition. When the book places Catlin in the context of Enlightenment science, it cites Norman Hampson's 40 year old survey of the Enlightenment rather than any of the recent and rich scholarship on the history of science for that period. Why does this matter? B/c Enlightenment science didn't simply justify empire as the author suggests it did. It also challenged it, as recent scholarship amply demonstrates. I am also surprised that Bernard Sheehan's /Seeds of Extinction/ and Isenberg's /The Destruction of the Bison/ aren't cited or referenced. Sheehan's book, like this one, suggests that philanthropists of American Indians fundamentally failed to really comprehend them. Isenberg would help the author realize that early 19th century Americans lacked the ecological perspective necessary to fully grasp the environmental changes occurring on the Plains. A deeper and more full engagement with the scholarship related to this argument would've resulted most probably in a more sophisticated and more broadly informed argument.

As for the writing, I found the inexplicable shifts in verb tense, misplaced dependent clauses, inconsistent use of capitalization, run-on sentences, and incoherent paragraphs more than distracting. I realize no book, not even a slim one, will be error-free when it comes to such issues. But the errors here are too frequent.
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