“A superbly researched work of history... forces us to look anew at the American Revolution from a tragic –and necessary –perspective”—The Washington Post Book World“Meticulously researched...by immersing us in its details Taylor makes us see the Iroquois as active shapers of American history, and their struggle to keep their homeland as part of our shared American past.”—San Diego Union-Tribune“In this dramatic, precise account [Taylor] describes an American Revolution with dire consequences for native peoples. . . fascinating. . . .[A] stunningly alternative American Revolution.”—The Boston Globe“Formidably researched, and display[s] a breathtaking intellectual understanding.”—The Denver Post
The Divided Ground is a superbly researched work of history,… Taylor forces us to look anew at the American Revolution from a tragic -- and necessary -- perspective.
The Washington Post
The study of borderlands is hot; Pulitzer and Bancroft prize-winning historian Taylor (William Cooper's Town) offers a rich, sprawling history focusing on the Iroquois Six Nations of New York and Upper Canada during the era of the American Revolution. Taylor examines Indians' wise but unsuccessful attempts to hold onto their land as colonists encroached on it. One of Taylor's great insights is that historians have taken at face value what European settlers said about the "preemption rights" by which colonists and imperial governments claimed Indian territory. Taylor recovers Indians' reactions to those "rights." Many Indian leaders, recognizing that they couldn't reverse European settlement, tried to at least dictate how that settlement would unfold-they wished to lease, rather than sell, their land, and they hoped to pick their neighbors. Giving narrative shape to the depressing and potentially unwieldy saga is the tale of a 50-year relationship between Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who exploited his ability to shift "between European gentility and Indian culture" in an effort to preserve native land rights, and Samuel Kirkland, a pious Calvinist who was both an evangelist and government agent among the Indians. This complex history told by a master of the trade will repay close reading. 48 b&w illus., 4 maps. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the late 1600s to the 1760s, the Iroquois Confederacy had deftly used its diplomatic skills and military prowess to maintain its political independence as European powers fought for control of the continent. Following the conclusion of the French and Indian War, members of the Iroquois Confederacy forged close ties with the British. Pulitzer and Bancroft prize winner Taylor (history, Univ. of California at Davis; William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic) brilliantly explores how the Iroquois used their political and military alliance with the British to maintain their sovereignty, a strategy that worked well until the outbreak of the American Revolution. The conclusion of the war found the Iroquois Confederacy splintered. The remnants of the Iroquois attempted to rely on their diplomatic skills in the hopes of maintaining their traditional lands, but the effort was doomed because their sovereignty was not respected by their British or American neighbors; British Canada and the United States of America created a border that ultimately served to destroy Iroquoia. This magnificent scholarly monograph is extremely well written and should be acquired by all libraries.-John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor (American Colonies, 2001, etc.) turns in a grand tale "of mutual need and mutual suspicion" as Americans, Indians and the colonial powers vied for mastery of the 18th-century frontier. His dramatis personae vast, Taylor here focuses on two men: the infamous Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and the lesser known American revolutionary Samuel Kirkland. Fellow students at a Connecticut boarding school, each fought the other when war came. The Mohawks took the British side not out of any love for an imagined mother country but as an expedient of sorts; by the time Kirkland and Brant first met, a great influx of Yankee settlers had overwhelmed the Algonquians of New England, "confining the survivors . . . in a landscape of colonial farms and commercial seaports," and the independence-minded Mohawks, part of the Iroquois Confederation, had no illusions about their own fate given the land-hungry, westward-looking immigrant population. France's surprisingly swift collapse following defeat in the Seven Years' War meant that England was the default choice for protection, with the fox-in-the-henhouse nature of the colonial militia and the Iroquois' misgivings over "the ability of the untrained and poorly equipped Patriots to compete with the superior discipline and arms of the British regulars." Kirkland, a minister who came to believe that "the Christian religion was not designed for Indians," and his fellow frontier colonists, proved a tough enough foe, and in all events, Brant was distracted by the constant need to convince the British that the Indians were not pawns, but "distinct allies, separate and equal." No such understanding ensued. The British weredefeated, and Brant's followers went into exile in Canada shamefaced but with their suspicions confirmed: In no time, the Yankees had overwhelmed the Iroquois, too, backed by a new government that, unlike Britain's, "was more solicitous of squatters' votes than Indians' rights."Illuminating and evenhanded; a sturdy companion to Fred Anderson's The War That Made America (2005) and other recent studies of the colonial and postcolonial frontier.