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Shadows At Dawn Hardcover – Nov 25 2008

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
28 of 32 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.
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.
6 of 6 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?"
3 of 3 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Prescription for How to Write History Aug. 7 2013
By Brian A. Foster - Published on
Format: Paperback
First, I would love to see this book turned into a movie. Of course, it would not be commercially successful--well maybe it would be, based on the bloody scenes. Such a movie would have documentary aspects to it, but I see it as much more rich than that. Perhaps Ken Burns could make something of this story.

There have been other books written about the Camp Grant Massacre, but none has incorporated the sociological, political, and humanistic perspective that Karl Jacoby has. His vehicle for telling different viewpoints of the story is to tell it from four distinct perspectives of major groups involved in the massacre. Brilliant!

As a history teacher, I tell my students that most history is written from the viewpoint of the victors--by the last man standing. Earlier books on the Camp Grant Massacre have employed this age-old privilege. Jacoby sets out to convince us that the "truth" of these events can be learned from one perspective, and then once he has us believing that story, he presents another perspective, and then another and then another. In the end, we realize that there are no truths and that there are multiple truths. Humanity is complex. The world is complex. There aren't always good guys and bad guys.

In the middle, of course, there is the sad tragedy of so many people who lost their lives. From those losses, we learn about how society thought during that time (four different societies). It was not that long ago that savagery existed on our soil. Some might argue that we still experience such savagery with mass murder and terrorists. Perhaps that would be an interesting story to tell from multiple perspectives.