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To tell the story, West begins with the early history of the Nez Perce and their years of friendly relations with white settlers. In an initial treaty, the Nez Perce were promised a large part of their ancestral homeland, but the discovery of gold led to a stampede of settlement within the Nez Perce land. Numerous injustices at the hands of the U.S. government, combined with the settlers' invasion, provoked this most accomodating of tribes to war.
West offers a riveting account of what came next: the harrowing flight of 800 Nez Perce, including many women, children, and elderly, across 1,500 miles of mountainous and difficult terrain. He gives a full reckoning of the campaigns and battles - and the unexpected turns, brilliant stratagems, and grand heroism that occurred along the way. And he brings to life the complex characters from both sides of the conflict, including cavalrymen, officers, politicians, and - at the center of it all - the Nez Perce themselves (the Nimiipuu, "true people").
The book sheds light on the war's legacy, including the near sainthood that was bestowed upon Chief Joseph, whose speech of surrender, "I will fight no more forever," became as celebrated as the Gettysburg Address.
Based on a rich cache of historical documents, from government and military records to contemporary interviews and newspaper reports, The Last Indian War offers a searing portrait of a moment when the American identity - who was and who was not a citizen - was being forged.
The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Flavius on 05-17-10
New Insights Into An Old Story
The Last Indian War was enjoyable. It is fairly accessible, and doesn't require a great deal of prior knowledge about the subject.
The download includeds a PDF timeline and map, which are very helpful in following the story.
Narrator BJ Harrison (of Classic Tales Podcast fame) does a great job of narration (the one exception being his pronunciation of the word "Willamette." Should be prounounced with the stress on the second syllable rather than the third!), particularly with all the Nez Perce names and phrases.
One minor quibble I have with the writing style is that West adds an S to the names of Native Tribes to pluralize them (i.e., Shoshone, Shoshones or Nez Perce, Nez Perces). That may well be the proper plural, but it sounds rough in my ear. I prefer Shoshone or Nez Perce without the S.
Well worth a listen.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Review on 12-14-10
Where the Set I will fight no more
I too enjoy listen to “The Last Indian War” once again. I was just 14 yo when we took a camping trip for 4 week (a long time ago) while mom read aloud Beal, Merrill D. "I Will Fight No More Forever"; Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963 & “War Chief Joseph” by Helen Addison Howard and Dan L. McGrath, 1941 as we drove the trail from the Snake River and White Bird Canyon to Canada. We had Appaloosa horse and wanted to learn the history and follow the trail they took on their flight. Anybody wanting to lean the history of the Indian tribes during the 1730 to 1877 and then the war or flight to Canada from June till Oct 5, 1877 of one of the greatest Indian tribe should listen to the book. The first few chapters are slow about the growth and the health issues.
I too don’t like the use of “S” on the name but we can change that now.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful