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Posted October 25, 2002
This is a very well researched and written book. While it doesn't have the exciting writing style of, say, The Frontiersman by Allan Eckert, it is a good read non-the-less. There is plenty of history here-- plenty of information about the Indians of the time, politics, characters, etc. The book starts out with the childhood of Zeisberger, which is a little slow reading, but only because I was looking ahead to the later years. This information is important, though, as it shows what environment Zeisberger grew up in and how it affected his life later. However, I was more interested in the years between 1740-1782. This is a wonderfully exciting time in Ohio history, and Olmstead covers it well. Because of the focus of the book, Olmstead covers events such as Braddock's Massacre in only a page or so, whereas there are entire books written on just this one battle. However, the book is about Zeisberger, and Olmstead relates how events such as these affected the lives of those around Zeisberger and the Moravian missions. The book takes us through the French and Indian War, into the Revolutionary War, and ends with the massacre of Christian Indians at Gnadenhutten, Ohio in 1782. Olmstead's history shows us how these peaceful (and not so peaceful) Indians' lives were affected by the events happening around them and to them. This is a very "neutral" book. By that I mean, the book doesn't offer a slanted judgement of one side against the other; it simply tells what happens. For example, both the good and the bad of the Indians are pointed out, giving us a true view of the Eastern Woodland Indians as real people, not just some distorted image of the "noble savage" fighting against the "evil" white men trying to steal his land. This is a book that allows one to view the people and the events of the time; it is not a stale history of dates and places. Another book by Olmstead, "Blackcoats among the Delaware" covers Zeisberger's life after the period of this book, but I really think this is the better written book (of course, since I am more interested in the 1750-1780 time period, this may just be prejudice on my part). Even forgetting David Zeisberger, this is a good book on "Indian-Colonist relations." And although I have read other works about David Zeisberger, I believe I would recommend this book above others to anyone interested in the subject. I don't think anyone could be disappointed in this book if they are interested in either the time period (though centered around Zeisberger) or David Zeisberger.
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