Throughout this well-documented, unique history, Silverman offers a detailed look at . . . the palpable sense of overall mourning after the aftermath of King Philip's War and the [European] attempt to annihilate (and assimilate) the Wampanoags-and their incredible ability to transcend the dehumanization and prevail . . . an eye-opening, vital reexamination of America's founding myth.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Silverman's highly recommended work enlightens as it calls into question persistent myths about the origins of Thanksgiving.” starred review, Booklist
“This lucidly written and convincingly argued account of the most “American” of traditions deserves to be read widely.” Publishers Weekly
"This publication is well researched . . . It should be required reading for how not to treat indigenous peoples." - New York Journal of Books
“David Silverman has crafted a gripping Native-centered narrative of the English invasion of New England. Finally, there is a book that vividly contextualizes the fabled first Thanksgiving, placing Native diplomacy and actions at the very center of the story, along with the warfare, dispossession, and struggle for sovereignty that was very much part of the longer aftermath of first contact. It is a story that continues into the present and a must read for every American.” Linford Fisher, author of THE INDIAN GREAT AWAKENING
“Probably the most important book you need to read before the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving. You know the outlines of the story, but this book is so full of human detail from the perspective of the Wampanoags, you'll feel like the old histories have inverted the whole thing. It's like we've been looking at a negative image all our lives, and Silverman gives us the real story finally in vivid color.” Joseph Kelly, author of MAROONED: JAMESTOWN, SHIPWRECK, AND A NEW HISTORY OF AMERICA'S ORIGIN
“With a rare combination of deep learning, passionate commitment, and moving prose, David Silverman's history of Wampanoag people is a book that all Americans need to ponder.” Daniel K. Richter, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania
“This recasting is refreshing, important, and just, showing both the the power and skill of indigenous diplomats, and how all that the Pilgrims ultimately achieved came at the expense of native peoples.” Michael Leroy Oberg, author of NATIVE AMERICA: A HISTORY
“David Silverman's sobering story of friendships forged in a complex intertribal world and betrayed in a nightmarish colonial world demands a national rethinking of America's mythic beginnings.” Colin G. Calloway, author of THE INDIAN GEORGE WASHINGTON
“A good measure of a work of history is whether it changes the way we understand its subject. By that measure, David J. Silverman succeeds admirably in Thundersticks… In Silverman's sober, sprawling account, America is a nation built on slaves and guns.” New York Times Book Review on THUNDERSTICKS
“Written in an accessible and at times swashbuckling style, the book is in many ways a retelling of the U.S.' Indian Wars from the 17th to the 19th centuries, with a twist.” Los Angeles Times on THUNDERSTICKS
An impassioned, deeply knowledgeable history of the "first contacts" between the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the English and Europeans, this time told from the Native side.
A scholar of Native American, Colonial, and racial history in America, Silverman (History/George Washington Univ.; Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America, 2016, etc.) first orients readers toward what the landing Pilgrim scouts at Cape Cod in November 1620 would have actually seen in the environs: evidence of an undeniable Native civilization. As the author shows, the Wampanoag Indians had already adopted horticulture (maize, beans, squash); created a system of governance via individual sachems (chiefs), inherited through the male line; and established proprietorship of the land stretching back generations. Moreover, there had already been a history of violence between the Natives and the shipboard European explorers for at least 100 years, as the explorers often lured the Natives into unfair trade, which often led to violence, and spread fatal diseases that decimated their population. "The ease of some of the Wampanoags with the English," writes the author, "suggests that there had been other more recent contacts than surviving documents report. At Martha's Vineyard, thirteen armed men approached the Concord without any fear, as if they had experience with such situations." Throughout this well-documented, unique history, Silverman offers a detailed look at the long, tortured relations between the two and captures the palpable sense of overall mourning after the aftermath of King Philip's War and the attempt to annihilate (and assimilate) the Wampanoags—and their incredible ability to transcend the dehumanization and prevail. Ultimately, the author provides an important, heart-rending story of the treachery of alliances and the individuals caught in the crosshairs, a powerful history that clearly "exposes the Thanksgiving myth as a myth rather than history." Silverman also includes a helpful "Glossary of Key Indian People and Places."
An eye-opening, vital reexamination of America's founding myth.
In celebration of a peace and mutual defense agreement, a Wampanoag delegation led by Ousamequin visited Plymouth during fall 1621 and celebrated what became known as Thanksgiving. In the U.S. mythology, that event was immortalized as the moment when American Indians ceded the New World to Euroamericans. To modern Wampanoag and other American Indian peoples, the day is viewed as one of mourning. Silverman (history, George Washington Univ.; Thundersticks) situates the origins of the Thanksgiving tale within the scope of Wampanoag history, beginning prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims, to illuminate why they would have allied themselves with the floundering Plymouth colony in the first place. The relationship between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag grew quickly strained, leading eventually to the devastation of the tribe during King Philip's War in 1675. Although that event saw Wampanoag nearly erased from history, they continue to express their identity and agency to this day. VERDICT Silverman's reconstruction of the world of the Wampanoag provides fascinating insights for both general readers and scholars into the early years of the colonization of Massachusetts, situating not only Thanksgiving within the nation's history but also the tragedy of King Philip's War.—John R. Burch, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin