Shadows At Dawn Hardcover – Nov 25 2008
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a"Shadows at Dawn" is an absorbing, brilliant study of the Camp Grant Massacre in 1871. Karl Jacoby sees this terrible event in its full complexity. His is one of the best studies ever of the long conflict between tribes and races, soldiers, citizens, killers and victims, in the wild unregulated Southwest.a
aIn this landmark book about a tragic collision of multiple cultures, Karl Jacoby subverts a thousand Westerns by showing us that the West was not a sepia- toned world of cowboy or Indian, villain or hero, white hat or black. The West so carefully re-imagined in Shadows at Dawn was a far more complicated placeaa place that lived and died in a surprising gamut of hues.a
aHampton Sides, author of "Blood and Thunder"
a"Shadows at Dawn" is the fascinating storyaactually four stories, a Southwestern Rashomonaof the massacre of Apaches near Tucson on April 30, 1871, by Anglos, Mexicans, and other Indians. Extending over four hundred years, centering on that awful event, this book is impressively researched and a major contribution to the history of clashing cultures and memories of the desert frontier.a
aWalter Nugent, author of "Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansion"
aA brilliant narrative writer and gifted historian, Karl Jacoby rescues the Camp Grant massacre not simply from the forgetfulness of the past but from the all- too-human urge to simplify the tangled complexity of our motivations, interactions, histories, and memories. This book should be required reading for polemicists and apologists alike, and for anyone wanting to think deeply and well about the meanings of that curious thing we call ahistory.aa
aPhilip J.Deloria, author of "Indians in Unexpected Places"
a"Shadows at Dawn" is western history at its best! Karl Jacoby has judiciously uncovered the many hidden layers as well as legacies behind one of the darkest moments in America's pastathe ethnic cleansing of its indigenous peoples. In the process, he restores the Camp Grant Massacre to its rightful place at the center of Arizona's traumatic 19th century past. A wonderful and moving achievement.a
aNed Blackhawk, author of "Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West"
aJacobyas story-telleras ear listens to the tales that have swirled around the Camp Grant Massacre since the spring of 1871 and draws them into a conversation thatalike it or notais long overdue. Studied with a cool eye and open heart, the perspectives merge into a kaleidoscopic vision of the American West that remind us that we may be done with the past, but it is seldom done with us.a
aJames F. Brooks, author of "Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands"
"Absorbing, brilliant . . . One of the best studies ever of the long conflict between tribes and races, soldiers, citizens, killers and victims, in the wild unregulated Southwest."
-Larry McMurtry --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"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.
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?"
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.
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.