American Indian Wars: The Essential Reference Guide

ABC-CLIO. Jan. 2022. 420p. ed. by Justin D. Murphy. ISBN 9781440875090. $97. REF
Murphy (history, Oakland City Univ.) and more than 70 subject specialists provide an insightful overview on American Indian warfare from the arrival of Columbus in the late 1400s to the end of the 19th century. A common question throughout is whether the colonial war on Indigenous peoples constituted genocide; using attorney Raphael Lemkin’s definition, Murphy states that the Indian Wars were in fact cultural genocide. Another is the impact of conflicts among Indigenous peoples as part of the American Indian Wars. A majority of the 130 entries focus on the most significant and representative tribes, battles, campaigns, warriors, and leaders of the various disputes. Recommended titles for further research, a chronology, and a selection of 19 important primary source documents supplement the content. The work is distinctive because subject entries center primarily on Indigenous peoples rather than on Europeans and white Americans, the writing is scholarly but accessible, and only the most recent and most important resources are listed in the extensive concluding bibliography. The encyclopedic organization of the book, with its emphasis on in-depth facts and analysis, contrasts nicely with Anton Treuer’s excellent Indian Wars: Battles, Bloodshed, and the Fight for Freedom on the American Frontier, which tells the story in a more narrative, chapter-based form with plentiful time lines, photographs, illustrations, and maps.
VERDICT A first-rate introduction and overview for all readers that clearly conveys the devastating impact of more than 400 years of war on Indigenous culture.
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