cover image The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

Jill Lepore, Author Alfred A. Knopf $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-679-44686-6

In King Philip's War of 1675, Algonquian Indians decimated more than half of the towns in New England, while the British massacred Indian settlements and shipped thousands of Algonquians out of the colonies as slaves. Though academic in style, this engrossing study by a Boston University history professor sheds new light on what is widely considered the most brutal and vicious war in American history (named after the Wampanoag leader Metacom, or Philip, who attacked Plymouth Colony). Analyzing colonists' diaries, letters and chronicles as well as captives' narratives, Lepore probes the deep-seated anxieties of the English settlers, who measured themselves not only against the ""barbarian"" Indians but also against the Spanish, whom the English self-righteously condemned for cruelty to Mexico's natives and to Protestants during the Inquisition. Memories of the war, kept alive for two centuries in plays, epic poems and histories, nurtured racist attitudes about Indians, according to the author. This study is full of valuable material on early English-Native contacts, on the widespread sale of Indians into foreign slavery and on relations between England and the elite of Christian Indians who mistakenly believed they would be spared from slavery. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)