#NBAwards Shortlist Review: The Indian World of George Washington

November 29, 2018 Uncategorized 6 ★★★

#NBAwards Shortlist Review: The Indian World of George WashingtonTitle: The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
Author: Colin G. Calloway

Summary: Fascinating material, dry writing without enough information about the people involved.

This is the last of the National Book Awards shortlist books I was able to read before the awards, but I’m a little slow getting to a review! I found it a bit of a slow read as well. While the information it contained was fascinating, the writing didn’t do the material justice. It did make me realize that there was an amazing amount of diversity and inter-tribal politicking among Native Americans during Washington’s times. In retrospect, this perhaps have been obvious, but it gets completely glossed over in the history I’ve been taught. There were an incredible number of people involved in the relationships between the early U.S. and Native Americans and the author. At times it felt like the author was trying to cover them all by giving us long lists of names. There wasn’t enough background given about any one person for me to feel really invested in their story.

My favorite part about this book was actually the way it connected to other books I’d read. There was clearly a lot of racism being used as a convenient excuse for colonialism, as per Locke’s theories in the National Book Aware shortlisted bio about him. And the way George Washington and other early government officials leveraged their positions for financial gain was a great illustration of the way the US has always been run by people with a vested interest in protecting corporations, as discussed in National Book Award shortlisted We the Corporations. I always love when books intersect like this. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d recommend this shortlist member as a fun read, but it certainly was an educational one.

6 Responses to “#NBAwards Shortlist Review: The Indian World of George Washington”

  1. Helen Murdoch

    Native American history is certainly glossed over in our schools, if taught at all. And I don’t remember ever learning about relations between tribes, which is fascinating, I’m sure!

  2. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    I read (actually listened to the audiobook) An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and it was super eye-opening – and it’s #ownvoices. It made me realize how truly abysmal my school education was when it came to history.

    It’s too bad this one was dry. 🙁

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! For all that this was dry, it also made me realized how little I was taught on this subject. I feel silly for not thinking about this before, but this really did hammer home for me how wrong it is that we’re taught about native Americans as though they’re a single, uniform group.

  3. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    I talked about the National Book Award on the podcast, and this is one that I thought would be good for some people but just not in my wheelhouse. And this review confirms it! I want to learn more about early American history, but dry writing is just not something I can get through right now.

    • DoingDewey

      I’m still behind on your podcast – I have a hard time listening to it while I work, because I want to give it a little more of my attention – but I look forward to hearing what you have to say about these. This definitely isn’t the book I’d most recommend from their list!

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