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The Pequot War (Native Americans of the Northeast) Hardcover – June 19, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A masterful analysis of events and beliefs that led up to the Pequot War.

(Boston Sunday Globe)

Engrossing as it is comprehensive, Cave's narrative repeatedly brings careful scholarship and penetrating insight to areas of controversy. Its breadth, depth, and readability make this the definitive study of a relatively small war that shaped the mythology of the conquest of America.

(New England Quarterly)

This well-researched, finely written book... provides a solid narrative of events surrounding the war and offers a thoughtful argument that challenges many existing interpretations.


Cave's scholarship is impeccable. He is able, through the Pequot War, to illuminate both the culture of the English colonies and the varied Native American cultures of the region. The work is engrossing.

(Barry O'Connell, editor, On Our Own Ground: The Complete Writings of William Apess, a Pequot (University of Massachusetts Press, 1992))

About the Author

Alfred A. Cave is professor of history at the University of Toledo. His previous publications include Jacksonian Democracy and the Historians.


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Product Details

  • Series: Native Americans of the Northeast
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press; 1st edition (June 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558490299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558490291
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,051,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Alfred A. Cave presents us with a quick moving, concise, and interesting narrative of the Pequot War. This is significant in and of itself since it is the first notable narrative of the war in almost a century. Cave attempts to correct the early historiography that was very sympathetic to the Puritans, and also tries to temper the interpretations of later historians that viewed the conflict as being caused solely by Puritan greed. Cave argues that the latter interpretation wrongfully diminishes the significance of Puritan ideology as a cause of the war.

Economics did play a role, but it was not a simple case of Puritans versus Pequots. Instead, there was fierce competition between various tribes, as well as the Dutch and English for control of the trade in the Connecticut Valley. Essentially, English plans to extend into Connecticut conflicted with Pequot desires to defend their interests. However, Cave sees that ideology, not Puritan greed or Pequot aggression caused the war. Puritans viewed the natives as "savages" and "children of the Devil," and, therefore, were the Devil's earthly servants deserving destruction. Cave argues that this worldview served as the catalyst for provoking a war with the Pequots.

Cave tends to take this interpretation a little too far. His efforts at correcting the excesses of past scholarship is appreciated, but leaves one wondering why a people so bent on the destruction of Native Americans, allied themselves with the Narragansetts against the Pequots. Nonetheless, this is a very good and interesting book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This balanced, fluid account of one of the first wars in American history places all blame on the English Puritan side for the outbreak of the Pequot War, while avoiding the moralizing lectures found in some Colonial American and Native American histories. The Pequot War resulted from a miscalculation of the Connecticut Pequot tribe that it could assert trade dominance throughout southern New England while dealing with English Puritan colonies on an equal footing. When the Pequot responded to Dutch grievances by killing Puritan raiders/traders, the failure to surrender to Puritan justice led to a disastrous war. The Puritan English, prone to see all Native Americans as pawns of the Devil, responded by destroying the Pequot as a sovereign force. The immolation of Pequot warriors, women and children at Mystic was one of the most notorious events of the Colonial era, and well represented Puritan contempt for "heathen" Indians. Alfred Cave is no Francis Jennings (with whom he disagrees about the motives of the Puritan during the war), or Howard Zinn, but he clearly interprets the Puritan response to Pequot "threats" as grossly inhumane and tragic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by far the most thorough historical survey I've ever read on all the events leading up to, and including, the Pequot War (1636-1637). Drawing from all of the numerous sources available on this period in early Colonial America's history, Mr. Cave has done a magnificent job leaving nothing out.

I would highly recommend "The Pequot War" to anyone who is interested in learning more about the beginnings of Connecticut River Valley settlements, the expansion and political competitions between each of the early colonies, as well as those of their neighbors (the Dutch of New Netherland and the Native Americans).

Truly eye-opening reading material that will kept you interested from the Introduction to the Index. Chapter 3 ("Pequots and Puritans: The Origins of the Conflict") alone, is well worth the price of this book. A "must have" for any serious bibliomania enthusiast with a library collection on early Colonial American History.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished this book for a history class. Let me start by saying this book wasn't all that bad. Cave provides some useful information if you want to indepthly study this period.
That having been said, Cave's theories are aren't backed up by fact. His main theory is that the Puritan's were so blinded by their faith and ideology, they were almost forced to attack the Indians in general and the Pequots specifically. If this were true, why did they ally themselves with other Indian groups? Why not just shoot any Indian coming down the road? Cave himself states that English traders, coming across an Indian village that was struck by sickness, spent months caring for them.
Not that I have any love of the Puritans, but they weren't that bad. Cave said they always refered to the Indians as Satan's followers. When relations were good with the Indians, it was only through God's providence. God stayed the hand of the Satanic savages. Didn't the Puritans think everyone on the whole Earth was by their nature evil and only good happened through God's providence? It wasn't just the Indians.
You have to remember that the Pequotes killed and tortured (although the Puritans did provoke them in some ways) dozens of Puritans in gruesome ways. Can you blame the Puritans and their Indian allies for going to war?
Cave finally glosses over a series of unfortunate incidents where both the Puritans and the Pequotes misunderstood each other's intentions and culture. It was no one group's fault for the war.
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