American Frontiers

Gregory H. Nobles, Author
Gregory H. Nobles, Author Hill & Wang $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8090-2471-1
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8090-1602-0
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The author confesses he had to ""unlearn"" much of what he knew about the American frontier to write this complex, nuanced picture of white-Indian relations. After the American Revolution, Congress adopted the role of conqueror, according to this history, claiming sovereignty over Native American territories. Thomas Jefferson, who looked upon Indians as noble savages, played a decisive role in Euro-Americans' westward expansion, which, as Nobles shows, paved the way for Andrew Jackson's policy of forced removal and dispossession. Though Native Americans inevitably succumbed to white colonizers' brute force and devastating diseases, natives waged a continuing struggle and made strategic adjustments. Nobles, a Georgia Institute of Technology history professor, highlights the mutual exchanges between Euro-Americans and Amerindians that revolutionized the Indians' way of life, for better or worse. His synthesis of recent scholarship also illuminates changing attitudes toward white frontier folk. Initially stereotyped as bumpkins or unruly squatters, white settlers--the ""shock troops"" of national expansion--became revered symbols of a hardy frontier civilization. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)
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