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Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873 Hardcover – June 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"[Murder State is] one of the most important works ever published on the history of American Indians in California in the mid-nineteenth century."—Steven Newcomb, Indian Country
(Steven Newcomb Indian Country)

“A significant historical account detailing white pioneers perpetrating genocide against California Indians. . . . [Employs] compelling evidence.”—Clifford E. Trafzer, Journal of American Studies
(Clifford E. Trafzer Journal of American Studies 2014-06-04)

“Lindsay’s methodology and conclusions . . . highlight important questions for scholars to ask of frontier societies, their legal systems, and their citizens.”—Brenden Rensink, Western Historical Quarterly

(Brenden Rensink Western Historical Quarterly)

“Perhaps the most provocative aspect of his book is Lindsay’s connection of American democracy to the killing of Indians.”—Robert G. Lee, American Historical Review
(Robert G. Lee American Historical Review 2014-06-04)

"[Murder State] is solid in its synthesis of an array of scholarship, clear in its arguments, and much needed in situating California’s indigenous presence in the state’s history."—Damon Akins, H-AmIndian
(Damon Akins H-AmIndian)

“Democracy and genocide are two activities that most would declare antagonistic. Yet Brendan Lindsay presents primary evidence that reveals the hatred and murderous acts committed by early Californians and government officials, as a grassroots movement, to settle the ‘Golden State’ by exterminating and dispossessing Native peoples of their ancestral homelands.”—Jack Norton, Hupa historian and emeritus professor of Native American studies, Humboldt State University
(Jack Norton 2011-09-27)

“Historian Brendan Lindsay has documented the attempted extermination of California’s first people and provided a detailed, comprehensive historical treatment of California’s genocide. He offers a groundbreaking study that will change the historiography of California and genocide studies—a penetrating but readable book that will quickly become a classic.”—Larry Myers (Pomo), executive secretary of the California Native American Heritage Commission
(Larry Myers 2011-09-27)

About the Author

Brendan C. Lindsay is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Sacramento.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080322480X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803224803
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Boulanger on June 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have not read this book yet (I have just ordered it) but as I read the reviews I was struck by "Michael's" review, so negative compared to other reviews. So negative, in fact, that I clicked on Michael's name to see what he had to say about other books. He says exactly the same thing about at least four other books, largely cutting and pasting the same words that he used to blast this book. The other books have nothing to do with California Indians (one is about Rome while another is about Osama Bin Laden). Michael seems to have an agenda and I am not quite sure what it is unless it is to disparage every book that may not endorse his political viewpoint, and by reading his reviews you will quickly surmise that viewpoint.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Today's California looks so soulless and mechanical to an outside visitor. Perhaps it may be explained by the fact that it is a land haunted by the souls of native Americans. Their genocide - a conveniently forgotten holocaust - by Euro-Americans is one of the saddest and the most heart wrenching story never told, as history is often written by murderers and conquerors. As a recent immigrant I feel sometimes a guilt of participating in this loot that is California and probably the whole of the U.S. from the native people of these lands. To know that many of the street names and landmark in this state probably bear names of past mass murderers is something only a cruel heart can ignore.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By pal on July 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is excellent! So informative; I'm learning a great deal about the history of my state and how entitlement and cruelty ruled! Very well explained and detailed references. Long intro and worth every word. Hope this young prof. has more books up his literary sleeve!!
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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Frequent Shopper on September 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a retired American Indian educator, which included 10 years at the university level, I was quickly drawn to a copy of "Murder State" I found sitting on a friend's desk. I immediately knew that I had to have a copy of this well researched book. That evening I anxiously sat down to order it from Amazon. Needless to say, the shocking price of the book discouraged me from ordering it. Even with the Amazon discounted price of a hefty $60 bucks was not an inducement for purchase. In an age of decreasing real hands-on organic "book" publications, one wonders how many copies of a book can be sold at the old "retro" prices of the 90's. I can only imagine money strapped university anthropology and history majors wanting to delve into updated research on the California Indians but only to be denied because of pricing. Hopefully, they would find a copy in the campus library or one placed on "reserve" by a sharp instructor.I've decided to wait a few years for the book to appear at a much lower price on a 'used' bookstore website or on a bargain book table at a bookstore for an ownership copy. It's just a matter of principle.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Roger Fraser on August 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Brendan Lindsay's book is a shocker and should be read by anyone who still thinks that white colonial-settler societies like the United States, South Africa, and Israel have histories that are anything but predatory and murderous.

But there's something lacking in this dark, unsettling book and its presence would have made the book stronger and its thesis more compelling: Given settlers' deep, raw hate, fear, and vengeance against California's indigenous peoples, I find it surprising that the book lacks a certain surer, more sophisticated psychological dimension. It's not that Lindsay doesn't speculate about motive; he does. It's just that he doesn't seem to go very deep.

Of course, he's surely right that greed for land and cheap slave labor---a form of primitive accumulation that makes the English 17th and 18th century version described by Marx appear almost benign by comparison---is primary. And Lindsay attributes a settler mindset about Indian savagery that he claims was formed largely by the popular press and newspaper accounts, rumors, and folk-tales back East, and Lindsay uses trail guides, diaries, and memoirs often written years later as his evidence. But what I find lacking, and blameworthy for its lack, is a curious kind of superficiality about character and motivation that permeates the book---the author seems unwilling or unable to risk speculating and imagining in detail and depth what was going on in the minds of white 19th century male US citizens making their way with their families across a forbidding wilderness to California. [The book started as a PhD. thesis and maybe that's the reason].

Take for example Lindsay's description of the immense, wholly unfounded terror he describes settlers had of Indian deprivations against whites along the trail.
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