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.