cover image Long, Bitter Trail

Long, Bitter Trail

Anthony F. C. Wallace. Hill & Wang, $14 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8090-1552-8

Wallace, who won a Bancroft Prize in 1978 for Rockdale: The Growth of an American Village , turns to Native American history in this retelling of the story of the Trail of Tears. This refers to the forced removal in the 1830s of thousands of Indians, particularly the Cherokee and the Choctaw, from the American east to west of the Mississippi River. The author expands his focus to examine the relocation of numerous Indian groups. Central to the story is Andrew Jackson, who assumed the presidency confronted with a government divided over the question of Indian removal and who soon became one of its major proponents. Responses of the Natives ranged from legal action and ultimate resignation on the part of some to warfare on the part of the Seminole. In a concluding chapter, Wallace shows how the effects of removal continue to the present day. All of this is told in a straightforward manner. Although he points to certain well-known white historians who give short shrift to this history, he overstates the uniqueness of his study. While it is a good introduction to the topic, this volume is far from the only modern historical treatment. Two documentary appendixes will be helpful to readers new to the subject. (July)