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Calloway, Colin G. The Shawnees and the War for America: The Penguin Library of American Indian History series. New York: Viking Adult, 2007.

            Colin G. Calloway’s The Shawnees and the War For America is an examination of the Shawnee Amerindians and their involvement in the conflicts that have developed and defined America.  Colin Calloway is a respected Amerindian Historian with a host of excellent works. However the Shawnee and the War for America is not the best of these.  While an excellent overview of the Shawnee’s unfortunate relationship with colonists and Americans, this work reads more as an overview rather than an in depth study.   Each chapter is dedicated to a particular conflict that involved the Shawnee,  such as the French and Indian War or the Revolutionary War, and the community or spiritual figure who was a key player during the conflict.  The chapters read like an introductions to a larger work delivering a detailed overview of the major events and individuals.  This is both a strength and a weakness in the book.  While the brief overviews work to give large amount of information in a short page count there is a lack of detail that may irk many scholars. Calloway presents the Shawnee’s conflicts and forced westward migration as a series of unfortunate events.   He organizes his chapters chronologically and effectively presents how the Shawnee’s actions in America’s early conflicts and the political and economic decisions they made affected their culture and geographic location.

            Calloway sees this work as part of New Indian history.  While this work is brief and scattered in scope Calloway does present much of the material from the Shawnee perspective.  Much like Ward and Braund, Calloway describes his Shawnee as active and shrewd in economics and politics.  Much like Ward’s Ohio Indians and the Cherokee, the Shawnee were quick to take advantage of the colonial rivalry between the French and English. As with other tribes the Shawnee adapted European technology and political practices to their own culture.  According to Calloway the Shawnee were part of the larger Algonquian language family and originated in the Ohio Valley.  They were active in the Ohio Valley during its time as the colonial back-country and as such were part of the global and local conflicts that ravaged that area.  It is in the Ohio back-country that Calloway begins to  chart the series of decisions and events that drove the Shawnee from their position of power and their traditional home.

            Calloway argues that the Shawnee were adept at navigating the complicated and violent politics of the Ohio Valley.  Despite their prowess the Shawnee were unfortunately placed.  Their homeland was in one era the buffer zone between global powers and the object of an infant empire’s expansion in another.  Calloway begins  litany of conflicts with the Shawnee’s “taking on” the British Empire and ends with the Shawnee surviving removal.  Calloway breaks up this narrative into chapters that focus on specific conflicts. Each chapter tackles a different conflict and commonly features a Shawnee and a European/American in conflict.  The cultural conflict is often presented through the conflict between two leaders.  According to Calloway , throughout the violence of conflict and the horrors of removal the Shawnee remained defiant.  Calloway depicts the Shawnee as maintaining their culture and their claim to the ancestral homeland.  The war may be over but the Shawnee and Amerindians as a whole survive. This is the main argument of Calloway’s work.  This book is presented as an introduction  While this may appear to many as dry military history Calloway is attempting to present over 150 years of history in brief work. His goal in The Shawnee and the War for America is to present Shawnee history from the eyes of the Shawnee.  He argues that history is more than dry descriptions of battles, but a story that can be told from numerous perspectives.  In this case Calloway is telling America’s story and he is not going to cover up the unpleasant parts.

            Calloway’s language is rough and unflattering.  He points out the character flaws of individuals and describes them in a blue collar fashion.  This is seen in one of the best opening lines to a historical work which describes a one eyed hard drinking holy man.  Calloway also writes in a blunt and honest style.  When describing acts of genocide or violence he does not use flowery language to hide the grim subject matter.  He uses strong language such as bastards to add some color and a touch of entertainment to his work.   This language creates a work that is not only approachable but causes the occasional chuckle.

            Calloway’s historiography draws on a host of primary and secondary sources in this work.  Considering the wide range of eras covered by Calloway his sources vary chapter to chapter. The earliest chapters drawn more from colonial/European sources, the usual collection of journals, interpersonal communication, and  speeches.  As Calloway proceeds through time there are more Amerindian sources, with speeches being most prominent.  His use of Amerindian source material is related to the availability of Amerindian source material.  Calloway’s research also features a great deal of secondary sources. Many of which were early works in New Indian history.  Calloways also makes use of work that were published previous to the development of New Indians history.  One interesting feature that Calloway features is a recommended reading list.  While this list is simply his bibliography he does make a mote that interested readers should utilize his listed sources material, furthering the idea that this book was written as an introduction to the field.

            The Shawnee and the War for America is a competent time line of Shawnee history. Calloway’s focus is on those instances where the Shawnee came into conflict with proto-Americans and later on Americans.  While Calloway’s research is in solid and well presented, this book  serves best as an introductory text.  Given the wealth of material as well as the dates  covered  a large amount of material feels glossed over.  Calloway’s research also draws a great deal on secondary sources and lacks a clearly presented historical dialog. This makes The Shawnee and the War for America is best used as an introduction to New Indian history as the general history Calloway creates for the Shawnee can be used as a template for understanding the histories of other Amerindians.  It whets the appetite for a more in depth study, making it the perfect work to introduce New Indian history to students

Calloway, Colin G. The Shawnees and the War for America: The Penguin Library of American                             Indian History series. New York: Viking Adult, 2007.

            Colin G. Calloway’s The Shawnees and the War For America is an examination of the Shawnee Amerindians and their involvement in the conflicts that have developed and defined America.  Colin Calloway is a respected Amerindian Historian with a host of excellent works. However the Shawnee and the War for America is not the best of these.  While an excellent overview of the Shawnee’s unfortunate relationship with colonists and Americans, this work reads more as an overview rather than an in depth study.   Each chapter is dedicated to a particular conflict that involved the Shawnee,  such as the French and Indian War or the Revolutionary War, and the community or spiritual figure who was a key player during the conflict.  The chapters read like an introductions to a larger work delivering a detailed overview of the major events and individuals.  This is both a strength and a weakness in the book.  While the brief overviews work to give large amount of information in a short page count there is a lack of detail that may irk many scholars. Calloway presents the Shawnee’s conflicts and forced westward migration as a series of unfortunate events.   He organizes his chapters chronologically and effectively presents how the Shawnee’s actions in America’s early conflicts and the political and economic decisions they made affected their culture and geographic location.

            Calloway sees this work as part of New Indian history.  While this work is brief and scattered in scope Calloway does present much of the material from the Shawnee perspective.  Much like Ward and Braund, Calloway describes his Shawnee as active and shrewd in economics and politics.  Much like Ward’s Ohio Indians and the Cherokee, the Shawnee were quick to take advantage of the colonial rivalry between the French and English. As with other tribes the Shawnee adapted European technology and political practices to their own culture.  According to Calloway the Shawnee were part of the larger Algonquian language family and originated in the Ohio Valley.  They were active in the Ohio Valley during its time as the colonial back-country and as such were part of the global and local conflicts that ravaged that area.  It is in the Ohio back-country that Calloway begins to  chart the series of decisions and events that drove the Shawnee from their position of power and their traditional home.

            Calloway argues that the Shawnee were adept at navigating the complicated and violent politics of the Ohio Valley.  Despite their prowess the Shawnee were unfortunately placed.  Their homeland was in one era the buffer zone between global powers and the object of an infant empire’s expansion in another.  Calloway begins  litany of conflicts with the Shawnee’s “taking on” the British Empire and ends with the Shawnee surviving removal.  Calloway breaks up this narrative into chapters that focus on specific conflicts. Each chapter tackles a different conflict and commonly features a Shawnee and a European/American in conflict.  The cultural conflict is often presented through the conflict between two leaders.  According to Calloway , throughout the violence of conflict and the horrors of removal the Shawnee remained defiant.  Calloway depicts the Shawnee as maintaining their culture and their claim to the ancestral homeland.  The war may be over but the Shawnee and Amerindians as a whole survive. This is the main argument of Calloway’s work.  This book is presented as an introduction  While this may appear to many as dry military history Calloway is attempting to present over 150 years of history in brief work. His goal in The Shawnee and the War for America is to present Shawnee history from the eyes of the Shawnee.  He argues that history is more than dry descriptions of battles, but a story that can be told from numerous perspectives.  In this case Calloway is telling America’s story and he is not going to cover up the unpleasant parts.

            Calloway’s language is rough and unflattering.  He points out the character flaws of individuals and describes them in a blue collar fashion.  This is seen in one of the best opening lines to a historical work which describes a one eyed hard drinking holy man.  Calloway also writes in a blunt and honest style.  When describing acts of genocide or violence he does not use flowery language to hide the grim subject matter.  He uses strong language such as bastards to add some color and a touch of entertainment to his work.   This language creates a work that is not only approachable but causes the occasional chuckle.

            Calloway’s historiography draws on a host of primary and secondary sources in this work.  Considering the wide range of eras covered by Calloway his sources vary chapter to chapter. The earliest chapters drawn more from colonial/European sources, the usual collection of journals, interpersonal communication, and  speeches.  As Calloway proceeds through time there are more Amerindian sources, with speeches being most prominent.  His use of Amerindian source material is related to the availability of Amerindian source material.  Calloway’s research also features a great deal of secondary sources. Many of which were early works in New Indian history.  Calloways also makes use of work that were published previous to the development of New Indians history.  One interesting feature that Calloway features is a recommended reading list.  While this list is simply his bibliography he does make a mote that interested readers should utilize his listed sources material, furthering the idea that this book was written as an introduction to the field.

            The Shawnee and the War for America is a competent time line of Shawnee history. Calloway’s focus is on those instances where the Shawnee came into conflict with proto-Americans and later on Americans.  While Calloway’s research is in solid and well presented, this book  serves best as an introductory text.  Given the wealth of material as well as the dates  covered  a large amount of material feels glossed over.  Calloway’s research also draws a great deal on secondary sources and lacks a clearly presented historical dialog. This makes The Shawnee and the War for America is best used as an introduction to New Indian history as the general history Calloway creates for the Shawnee can be used as a template for understanding the histories of other Amerindians.  It whets the appetite for a more in depth study, making it the perfect work to introduce New Indian history to students

 

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