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Shadows At Dawn Hardcover – Nov 25 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press (HC); 1st Edition edition (Nov. 25 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201936
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.3 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,183,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Karl Jacoby is an associate professor of history at Brown University and the author of Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves and the Hidden History of American Conservation, which was awarded the Littleton-Griswold Prize by the American Historical Association for the best book on American law and society and the George Perkins Marsh Prize by the American Society for Environmental History for the best work of environmental history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A Chorus of Present and Past Dec 5 2008
By Jonathan Brandt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of William Manchester, Alison Weir, and David McCullough; historians whose writings, for me, engage the reader by combining depth of research with deftness of narrative. I greatly enjoyed Karl Jacoby's first book, "Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation", largely for that reason.

"Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History" pivots on a sensational-but-forgotten crime. In this book, Jacoby presents four distinct, often counterpoised narratives. His aim is to give equal voice to each of the four peoples represented by participants at the book's titular event. Not just for that pin-point in time, but for the decades preceding and following it as well.

I think this approach succeeds wonderfully. And it leaves me, at least, fascinated by the fluid relationships among these peoples throughout those times. Their interactions, at once conflicting and intimate, challenge many of the persistent, mainstream notions of settlers and Indians in the Wild West.

There is a subtle, fifth voice in this book, however. And it makes Jacoby's work especially compelling. Alongside the Papago, the Vecino, the Americano, and the Apache; I could hear the Historian - Jacoby himself - conveying his veneration for these peoples and for the historian's calling to curate their memories.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Cross-culture conflict in Arizona, 1870's style April 13 2011
By M. Heiss - Published on
Format: Paperback
For all the apologies and disclaimers at the beginning of the book, about how historians are SUPPOSED to weave together all the threads of the story to make one account, and how historians are NOT SUPPOSED to do what this book does (which is leave those strands separate)... despite all that, this book could not have been done better.

Take a look at one historical event (a massacre of Apaches in Aravaipa Canyon) in the context of four cultures - the Apaches themselves, their traditional enemies the O'odham people, plus the old settlers of northern Mexico that remained on the land after it was purchased by America, and the new American folks.

The historical record is shaky, because the O'odham and the Apache did not consider themselves to be homogenous nation-groups with clear agreement on oral record-keeping. Instead, the scattered and fragmented nature of these Native American peoples led to disjointed accounts. (How Karl Jacoby teased the information out of the scattered oral accounts would be excellent subject matter for another book.) In addition, there are all sorts of overlaps between the heritage of people who nobly led the massacre in order to protect their families and then were elected to public office on the strength of their determination and prestige, while keeping their participation quiet in order to avoid condemnation and sanction. The book also takes into account the give-and-take relationship of the purported peace-keping US military forces in the area.

Reading it, you get the impression that the only way for Progress to come to Arizona was for the native peoples to cease to exist. Whether through assimilation or annihilation or imprisonment on reservations, their way of life was over. Was it better to go quietly and align your people with the newcomers, or was it better to hold out and fight back? In the end, which method gained better results, better territory, and more prosperity?

It is just fascinating. Once again, America faces an enemy that is disbursed and shifting, willing to make partial peace on an individual basis, until peace no longer serves. The Islamic world is a chaotic blend of shifting alliances and individual warlords, and fighting against one or alliance with another will have repercussions that slide through different tribes and bands -- totally unpredictable.

This book is a thinker. There's no single answer to "what happened at the Camp Grant Massacre?"
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant contribution to North American history Feb. 27 2009
By David A. Clary - Published on
Format: Hardcover
With this original approach to a single event, tracing its origins and aftermath through the four cultural groups involved, Karl Jacoby joins a small but growing group of younger historians of the North American borderlands who have abandoned the tired formulas of the past, looked at the past with fresh eyes, taking care not to see everything from an Anglo-American perspective, and begun an era of fresh interpretation of very difficult aspects of our common (and sometimes separated) past. To boot, he writes very well. I recommend this to anyone interested in not just the borderlands or the struggles between Indians and others, but to anyone who wants a further understanding of the history of this continent.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Stunning work of history July 26 2009
By Professor Brizz - Published on
Karl Jacoby has quickly become one of the great names in history working today. Shadows at Dawn is simply one of the most innovative and brilliantly conceived books I've ever read. It's contributions to the enormous literature on the American West are certainly great, but more than helping us to understand this single episode, he has provided a model that future studies should hope to emulate. By carefully recreating the numerous perspectives of the divergent groups caught up in the notorious Camp Grant Massacre, Jacoby has provided a measure of insight that is truly rare. I don't think i have ever felt so "there" while reading a work of history. I read two or three books a week on average, but rarely does history stick with me like this one I found myself pondering it's subject for days afterwords. I really can't recommend this highly enough, and am eager to hear what Dr. Jacoby is working on next.

FYI: Do yourself a favor and pick up his first book: _Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation_ - it's depth hints at the approach he chose with Shadows at Dawn, and similarly provides fascinating insight into an under appreciated facet of Western History.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A historical Rashomon May 22 2010
By P. Troutman - Published on
_Shadows at Dawn_ traces the `before' and `after' of the killing in 1871 of approximately 140 Apache who were nominally under the protection of US soldiers at Camp Grant, Arizona. What the other reviewers stress is the innovative arrangement of the material, namely its being broken into four threads, each representing the viewpoint of one of the four ethnic groups involved. After an introduction that describes the massacre, each group has a `before' chapter that leads up to the killings, then there's a cursory overview of the trial of those involved, and then four chapters on the aftershocks.

What is really fascinating about this is how radically incompatible the different groups' views were. This is instantly obvious by looking at the maps that precede each group's first chapter: they cover the same territory but they don't look anything alike. Then each group has different names for the other groups, and its disorienting --- in a good way --- how a group in one narrative is simply `the People' and in another is bluntly referred to as `the Enemy'. The real payoff to the four perspectives, though, is when the groups' attempt to make sense of each other's behavior. The gulf in understanding would be comic if it didn't perpetuate such a spiral of violence.

I do get a feeling, however, that the historical records about the day of the massacre must be pretty thin. Each of the `pre' chapters feels like, "Context, context, context... Bam!" And then the chapter is over. This is frustrating in the sense that it seems like the Camp Grant Massacre was in fact a significant escalation of frontier violence. The rationale for the attack and the style of attack were all very much par for the course but the magnification of the scale of brutality seems to call for an explanation, which the book doesn't provide.

I would also say that there is one question is maddeningly left unanswered: where were the Apache men during the attack? I started wondering this fairly early on. The Apache narratives describe several small groups of men who happened to have gone out from the camp shortly before the attack, but these don't add up to enough men to account for the presence of approximately 170 women and children (20+ children were kidnapped). The Anglo narrative mentions the claim that the men were out on raids, but this claim isn't scrutinized. It seems an important point.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to our understanding of the history of what I think of as 'the West' (an admittedly ethnocentric way of looking at this particular time and place) and is example of the role of innovation by historians in understanding the past. It is also unfortunately rather relevant to the present day: some of the Anglo justifications for the killings are identical to the justifications for Arizona's anti-illegal alien legislation that has created such a firestorm of controversy of late.