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The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Studies in North American Indian History) Paperback – November 1, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0521183444 ISBN-10: 0521183448 Edition: Anniversary edition

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The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (Studies in North American Indian History) + Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in North American Indian History
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Anniversary edition edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521183448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521183444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...this book stands almost like a bible commentary, indispensable for an understanding of the mass of information to be digested by any reader interested in the subject....the voluminous footnotes...contain an overwhelming wealth of scholarship." Wisconsin Magazine of History

"Richard White has written a remarkable book that will change the way historians view the Great Lakes region during the colonial and early national periods. Elegantly written, thoroughly researched, and powerfully argued, the book describes in the clearest possible terms a world in the midst of profound historic change...White succeeds so brilliantly that his approach should shape the way historians conceive of relations between American Indians and Europeans in other times and places as well." American Historical Review

"This is a book of many achievements and it gets the new Cambridge series of Studies in North American Indian History off to a fine start. In the depth of its research, the range of its territory and chronology, and the number of its insights, it is a major work in American Indian history. But White's work goes further and is indispensable reading for anyone trying to understand colonial and frontier America...By helping to bridge the apparent gulf between 'Indian history' and 'mainstream' American history, the book will perhaps build a common ground of its own." Reviews in American History

"The Middle Ground is a brilliant scholarly accomplishment, one of the most impressively researched works in any field of history." Western Historical Quarterly

"In the breadth of its chronological and geographical scope, the depth of its research, and the sensitivity of its analysis, Richard White's book is an extraordinary achievement. Mapping the landscape of 'the middle ground' that native and colonial peoples sought to create in the Great Lakes region, Professor White has done more than chronicle, with unprecedented clarity and fairness to all players in the drama, the early history of that vast expanse. He has also provided historians with a new means of understanding relations between natives and newcomers all across the continent. As a powerful metaphor and as a splendid work of history, The Middle Ground should stand with Francis Jennings's The Invasion of America as offering a new and exciting vantage point from which to view the American experience." James Merrell, Vassar College

"In this extraordinary book, Richard White gives us a fascinating new account of the interactions among Europeans and native peoples during a crucial phase in American history. In his efforts to overturn traditional historical accounts which portray white conquest as inevitable or Indian defeat as absolute, he suggests the rich and ambiguous intermingling of cultures that Indians and Europeans created together in their early years of contact. The Middle Ground will change the way we think not just about Indians, but about American history generally. Scholars will be learning from and emulating this book for many years to come." William Cronon, Yale University

"Richard White's book is one of the most impressive works written in native American and frontier history in many years....White's book is an excellent one that should be of interest to all scholars of the American frontier and native American history." Laurence M. Hauptman, The Historian

"Perceiving the nonexistence of a dividing line in regions where Indians and Euro-Americans mixed, some scholars now strive to understand and explain what actually happened in those regions. Richard White's Middle Ground is a welcome and important addition to this work." Francis Jennings, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"This notion of the search for a common ground--or, as he prefers to call it, 'the middle ground,' coining a phrase which has now shot to fame and fortune in the vocabulary of Americanists--is brilliantly explored in Richard White's book of this title." New York Review of Books

"For historians interested in the Great Lakes-Ohio valley region, Richard White has added a new and provocative term to the discussion of Indian-white relations for the period from the mid-seventeenth-century Iroquois Wars to the War of 1812." Helen Hornbeck Tanner, EthnoHistory --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

Book Description

An acclaimed book and widely acknowledged classic, The Middle Ground steps outside the simple stories of Indian-white relations - stories of conquest and assimilation and stories of cultural persistence. It is, instead, about a search for accommodation and common meaning. The 20th anniversary edition includes a new preface by the author examining the impact and legacy of this study.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Revisioner on October 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On its initial publication in 1991, The Middle Ground caused a paradigm shift in Native American studies. Whereas earlier historians viewed the Indians of the Great Lakes region as secondary players in a British and French (and later British and American) contest for empire, White moved the Indians center-stage. Rather than bit-players on the periphery of others' empires, the region's Indians were active agents in creating a "middle ground," a region's whose culture and economy were the product of negotiated change, not an imposed colonial will. The depth of White's research is staggering, drawing upon a wealth of material from French, Canadian, British, and American archives.

It would be hard to overestimate the influence of The Middle Ground on subsequent historians. It has become a seminal work, ubiquitously cited, and its thesis of a "middle ground" has been adapted and revised--with varying levels of success--to fit countless other places and other times. But be forewarned: the book is by no means a pleasure to read. Dense and ponderous, with an accumulated weight of prodigious scholarly research, The Middle Ground is an authoritative work, but it reminds one of Mark Twain's definition of a "classic" book. "A classic," Twain once quipped, "is a book that everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read."
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
This very interesting and well written book is a successful effort to recover an unanachronistic view of interactions between native peoples and Europeans in the American Great Lakes region between the mid-17th century and the end of the War of 1812. White deals extensively with events usually described in terms of European conquest of native peoples or French-British imperial rivalry but White's perspective is both novel and insightful. The Middle Ground that White describes in not a geographic locale but a metaphor for an interesting type of cultural interaction and accommodation. In the mid-17th century, the powerful Iroquois confederation had fragemented many other tribal groupings and driven their remnants westwards. Some of these groups spoke Algonquian languages, others belonged to other language families. A large region around the Great Lakes, roughly north of the Ohio river, east of the Mississippi, what is now western Pennsylvania, and reaching north to encompass lands around Lake Superior and what is now southwestern Ontario, saw the emergence of a new and complex society.

The keystone of this society was French interactions with the peoples of the Great Lakes region, what the French called the pays d'en haut. Driven by the mutual need for allies against the Iroquois and the British, the varied groups of the pays d'en haut and the French developed a political and diplomatic system based on complex patron-client relationships between French colonial officials, traders, and missionaries with the native peoples. The forms of these relationships were generally based on traditional native forms which had many of the aspects of kin relationships. These forms brought the French deeply into mediating conflicts within the shifting politics of the pays d'en haut.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book reads inconsistent a bit. Very enlightening and addresses a bit of history the average person does not know. The theme becomes a bit redundant. Detailed on the sociology of the period and details the causes. Overall a very interesting history. Not light reading.
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