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Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation Paperback – September 22, 1997


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Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation + Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books Doubleday; Reprint edition (September 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385239548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385239547
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

One of the many ironies of U.S. government policy toward Indians in the early 1800s is that it persisted in removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values. As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing plantations. Such a leader was Ridge, who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. As he and other Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislatiors, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded in ousting the Cherokee from their land, forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." Popular history for public libraries. Mary B. Davis, Museum of American Indian Lib., New York
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The fascinating portrayal of the Cherokee nation, filled with Native American legend, lore, and religion -- a gripping American drama of power, politics, betrayal, and ambition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
John Ehle, a native son of North Carolina, has dedicated most of his life toward using his pen to bring to life the rich history of his birthstate. With Trail of Tears, he has succeeded again where so many others, in this day and age of political correctness and historical revisionism, have failed. Ehle's work is factually rich, it is obvious Mr. Ehle spent many hours in archives thoroughly researching the book's subject matter. The book's narrative structure is compelling, focusing on the role of several prominent families within the Cherokee Nation to animate the hierarchical structure of Cherokee society and the stratification of power therein.
Some readers will be shocked to discover how pervasive European culture was within significant elements of the Cherokee nation in North Carolina. The curiosity of most readers will be piqued again and again with the factually accurate exposure to the structure of the Cherokee's -- Christian churches, post office, town hall -- how they made a concerted effort to adapt to the European white world in an effort to integrate, and therefore survive, amidst a sea of change occurring during the 19th century.
Mr. Ehle's work has been criticized for its depiction of wealthy, landed Cherokee's as slave owners. This evidence flies in the face of the more contemporary interpretation of the brotherhood of the oppressed alleged to exist between persecuted American Indians and the African slave population. This notion is patently false. At the time, the Cherokees were neither persecuted nor advocates of slave rights. They were, as Mr. Ehle points out, consistently adapting the institutions of the white European settlers, good or bad, and slavery was one of those institutions the Cherokees adopted.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Paul Ridenour on March 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is filled with facts but as others have pointed out, it is also filled with errors and sometimes reads like a historical "fiction" novel. I have over a 100 books on this topic but I'd say go ahead and buy this book. If you want the best researched book on the topic, also purchase:

"Cherokee Tragedy: The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People" by Thurman Wilkins.

Another fantastic book, which is out-of-print, is:

"Stand Watie and the Agony of the Cherokee Nation" by Kenny A. Franks.

The Franks book deals with the Cherokees and the Civil War.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Randall L. Golden on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ehle's has a unique, fast paced, style of laying out the facts. This is an intense, no holds barred look at the end of the Cherokee Nation, most of which existed in present-day Northwest Georgia.
I do not recommend this work as an introduction to the Trail of Tears. You should have a good grasp of the people and events leading to North Georgia's Trail of Tears before attempting to read the book since Ehle frequently does not introduce minor characters, and does not spend much time introducing the major characters and events.
The book is well researched but controversial, since there are essentially two sides to the story, that of Major Ridge and that of John Ross. This gives a balanced presentation of both sides, although I suspect that fans of Major Ridge may disagree.
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57 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Diane Schirf on April 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle. Highly recommended.
In Trail of Tears, John Ehle (who is, as far as I can tell, non-Native) sketches the people and events that led to the infamous Trail of Tears, the removal of the Cherokee Nation to "Indian Territory" (primarily Arkansas and Oklahoma) where they would "never" be bothered by whites again. The focus is on the "Treaty Party," consisting of Ridge, his son John Ridge, and his nephews Elias Boudinot and Stand Watie, along with Moravian, Methodist, and other missionaries sent to convert the Cherokees to Christianity and who are caught up in Cherokee/state/federal politics.
Ehle's bias is evident in the title; the "rise" of the Cherokees is the effort, not wholly embraced by the Nation, of adapting to European-American culture, language, religion, and even livelihood (e.g., Cherokee hunting is uncivilized, whereas the adoption of American farming is preferable). The story begins with some background and the birth of a Cherokee man named Ridge not too long before the American Revolutionary War. The white impact has already begun to be felt, as one of Ridge's forebears is white, and he and his family are driven into the wilds by the war.
After the war ends, the new Americans have one craving-land and more land. A gold strike in Georgia adds to the fever. The Cherokee, along with the Choctaw, Creek, and other southern tribes, are perceived as "wasting" land that their white counterparts should be entitled to. From this point on, it is clear that the Juggernaut of American expansionism and greed will displace the Native peoples. The question is only how and when.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1996
Format: Paperback
"Trail of Tears," by John Ehle, is a beautifully written book
which educates and entertains, uplifts and depresses, frustrates
and astonishes. The reader becomes painfully aware that the
history we were taught in school virtually ignored an important
part of the American story. The true nature of the Cherokee
is exposed and examined through Ehle's obviously dedicated
research, while throughout the book, the tone is less that of a
documentary, and more that of a story being told, gripping the listener with each new development.

Heroes are exposed as miscreants, and statesmen as traitors to
principles we all hold dear. The reader comes to realize just
how close the Cherokee came to having an entirely different destiny
than the one to which they finally succumbed, and becomes intimately
acquainted with the characters and causes involved therein.

The book is a fast read, an eye-opener, and contains a story
that all people, and especially all Americans, should know and
pass on for generations to come.
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