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Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America Paperback – August 3, 2009
"Roots" by Alex Haley
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not, and is not meant to be, the standard book on the French and Indian War that so many readers seem to be anticipating.
Silver states his intentions very clearly in his Introduction:
"This book is about how fear and horror, with suitable repackaging, can remake whole societies and their political landscapes. The societies in question are the middle provinces of British North America--a collection of rural colonies strung along the center of the Atlantic seaboard, joining Indian country to the ocean--during a long generation of wars from the 1750s to the 1780s." [pg xviii]
As the story opens, race relations in Pennsylvania had been relatively amicable for several generations. Many Native Americans had been Christianized and a significant number of Indians could speak English, German, or both, as well as their native tongues. Now millions of new immigrants were arriving in droves in Philadelphia, upsetting the established social balance.
When the Seven Years War broke out in Europe it soon became evident that the lands and inhabitants of the British and French colonies were being used as playing chips in a bloody global game, and that both Great Britain and France were stirring up the American Indians.
As the stakes in the European game grew higher, journalists and pamphleteers whipped the colonial population into a frenzy. Negative campaigning, fear-mongering, slogans and symbolic gestures such as carting the dead through the streets of major cities, escalated.
As the publicity campaign grew more vicious, so did reactions of previously neutral people. Quakers turned against Quakers, Native Americans against Native Americans, Germans against the English, Scots-Irish Presbyterians against everyone.Read more ›
The great irony, of course, is that Pennsylvania had perhaps the most peaceful and nonviolent Indian population in the American colonies. But that was really beside the point. What these people needed was a way to distinguish themselves from the European brothers as the Revolution became a reality. What better than to focus on the trials and tribulations they had suffered in the savage wilderness of America? The amalgamation of different groups under the mantle of "American" was not a product of some enlightened democratic spirit, but one born out of fear. To be American was to have survived a life on the edge of a howling wilderness that held grave secrets and dangerous animals just waiting to take their children.
There is no mistake that America's first great novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, wrote about such themes. It was what defined the uniquely American experience of the 18th century...it was what made Americans exceptional. There remains much more to be said on the subject, but Silver has set a very high bar indeed.Read more ›
Silver's "Our Savage Neighbors" explores the changes British Colonial America experienced during the Indian Wars of the eighteenth century, including chances in colonial society and colonial outlooks on race and class (an "anti-Indian sublime"). Silver uses excellent examples and narratives of real everyday people to present his evidence to the reader and he backs up these examples with ample citations. Every claim he makes, he proves with a source.
However, while Silver's book is well received and liked in professional circles, the heavy research and citations may turn off the casual reader.
But race, in this context has to do, not so much with black and white issues, as with red and white issues. Unlike the familiar tracts on how whiteness evolved, (Such as Winthrop D. Jordan's "White over Black," or Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race") that tend to carry the heavy odor of a socialist axe to grind (which is to say most of them), this one has no ideological axe to wield. And the very fact that it took so long to uncover this rather innocent but imminently common sense and believable thesis is itself no small measure of how deep our national denial on the issue of race really is.
What this brilliant author and researcher tells us is that the white race has not been in existence for time immemorial (as the committed racists tell themselves - even claiming Greek and Roman history as part of a common "white heritage," and pedigree), but was invented in the aftermath of the "Seven Year War," by demagogues, and scam-artists, pamphleteers, and other peddlers of the print medium, whose tactics even today would make Madison Avenue "Ad Men" blush.
As the story is told here, during, and in the aftermath of the war between England and France, the disparate tribes on opposing sides of that war, for their own respective existential imperatives, found for the first time, ways to coalesce as groups in order to fight each other in that war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book has a few good stories, but...
"Facing East" is an awesome book on the subject. No fluff; very enlightening
This history looks at the understanding and effects of violence between European settlers and Native Americans in the Middle Colonies from roughly fhe 7 Years War through the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Bobo
Read for grad school. This title is somewhat misleading as it focuses primarily on Western Pennsylvania.Published 17 months ago by gade04
This book was so complicated to understand because of the way it was written. Granted, I had a heavy school load the semester I had to read this, and I was not a fan of my History... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Key2014
Fear and loathing of Native Americans drove the hatred that fired the Indian wars that followed rumors of attacks. Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by spikel
You would have thought that the Indians were the only savages in the woods, but the Europeans, especially in North America were equally as savage. Read morePublished on January 16, 2014 by richard e whitelock
I read this book only because it was required for a history class. Unless you are very familiar with the French and Indian Wars, this is a total waste of time. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by Shirl
This book highlights the disconnect between elitist historical scholarship and the wider (scholarly and public) interest in history. Read morePublished on July 25, 2012 by fanofhistory