cover image The Life of William Apess, Pequot

The Life of William Apess, Pequot

Philip F. Gura. Univ. of North Carolina, $30 (216p) ISBN 978-1-4696-1998-9

The 1836 delivery of the “Eulogy on King Philip”—a resounding indictment of young America’s prejudice toward Native Americans as well as a memorial that elevated the reputation of New England Wampanoag leader, King Philip, to the ranks of the early republic’s patriots—brought Apess to the attention of contemporary students of American literature. In his engaging, insightful, and thoroughly detailed biography, Gura (Truth’s Ragged Edge), a dean of early American literature, brings Apess more fully to life. Born in 1798 on the Connecticut frontier, young Apess endured hunger, went about clothed in rags, and often had no cover at night against the harsh weather. Apess had a tumultuous childhood with several adopted families and struggled with alcoholism, but he converted to Methodism and began an itinerant ministry after serving as a soldier in the War of 1812. Gura nimbly chronicles Apess’s development as a writer, (his A Son of the Forest in 1829 was the first autobiography published by a Native American author), his growth and struggles as a frontier minister, and his leadership in the Mashpee Revolt, in which he advocated the equality of Native Americans and whites. Gura’s storytelling draws us naturally into this fascinating life of a man who strove to claim a place for himself and his people in this new nation. Illus. [em](Mar.) [/em]