cover image The Last Campaign: Sherman, Geronimo, and the War for America

The Last Campaign: Sherman, Geronimo, and the War for America

H.W. Brands. Doubleday, $35 (416p) ISBN 978-0-385-54728-4

Historian Brands (Our First Civil War) takes a fine-grained yet somewhat lopsided look at the final military battles fought between the U.S. government and the Apache, Lakota, Nez Perce, and other Native American tribes. Covering the period between the first forced marches along the Trail of Tears in the 1830s and the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, the narrative documents decades of relentless government pressure to push Native Americans away from valuable land, brutal relocation campaigns, tense negotiations, internal debates among tribal leaders about whether to resist or capitulate, and key battles. Brands incorporates Indigenous perspectives, including She Walks With Her Shawl’s eyewitness account of the Battle of Little Big Horn, but most of the narrative is spent with U.S. Army general William Sherman and other military leaders, including Philip Sheridan and Nelson Miles. Though Brands quotes from Sherman’s letters and journal entries calling for peace, he’s more interested in delivering battlefield play-by-plays than interrogating the racist attitudes of the day or conveying the full range of the Native American experience. Though well written and often engrossing, this history is missing some crucial context. (Nov.)