This newest volume in Oxford's acclaimed Pivotal Moments series offers an unforgettable portrait of the Nez Perce War of 1877, the last great Indian conflict in American history. It was, as Elliott West shows, a tale of courage and ingenuity, of desperate struggle and shattered hope, of short-sighted government action and a doomed flight to freedom.
To tell the story, West begins with the early history of the Nez Perce and their years of friendly relations with white settlers. In an initial treaty, the Nez Perce were promised a large part of their ancestral homeland, but the discovery of gold led to a stampede of settlement within the Nez Perce land. Numerous injustices at the hands of the U.S. government, combined with the settlers' invasion, provoked this most accomodating of tribes to war.
West offers a riveting account of what came next: the harrowing flight of 800 Nez Perce, including many women, children, and elderly, across 1,500 miles of mountainous and difficult terrain. He gives a full reckoning of the campaigns and battles - and the unexpected turns, brilliant stratagems, and grand heroism that occurred along the way. And he brings to life the complex characters from both sides of the conflict, including cavalrymen, officers, politicians, and - at the center of it all - the Nez Perce themselves (the Nimiipuu, "true people").
The book sheds light on the war's legacy, including the near sainthood that was bestowed upon Chief Joseph, whose speech of surrender, "I will fight no more forever," became as celebrated as the Gettysburg Address.
Based on a rich cache of historical documents, from government and military records to contemporary interviews and newspaper reports, The Last Indian War offers a searing portrait of a moment when the American identity - who was and who was not a citizen - was being forged.
The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!
©2009 Elliott West (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
The Last Indian War was enjoyable. It is fairly accessible, and doesn't require a great deal of prior knowledge about the subject.
The download includeds a PDF timeline and map, which are very helpful in following the story.
Narrator BJ Harrison (of Classic Tales Podcast fame) does a great job of narration (the one exception being his pronunciation of the word "Willamette." Should be prounounced with the stress on the second syllable rather than the third!), particularly with all the Nez Perce names and phrases.
One minor quibble I have with the writing style is that West adds an S to the names of Native Tribes to pluralize them (i.e., Shoshone, Shoshones or Nez Perce, Nez Perces). That may well be the proper plural, but it sounds rough in my ear. I prefer Shoshone or Nez Perce without the S.
Well worth a listen.
I too enjoy listen to “The Last Indian War” once again. I was just 14 yo when we took a camping trip for 4 week (a long time ago) while mom read aloud Beal, Merrill D. "I Will Fight No More Forever"; Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963 & “War Chief Joseph” by Helen Addison Howard and Dan L. McGrath, 1941 as we drove the trail from the Snake River and White Bird Canyon to Canada. We had Appaloosa horse and wanted to learn the history and follow the trail they took on their flight. Anybody wanting to lean the history of the Indian tribes during the 1730 to 1877 and then the war or flight to Canada from June till Oct 5, 1877 of one of the greatest Indian tribe should listen to the book. The first few chapters are slow about the growth and the health issues.
I too don’t like the use of “S” on the name but we can change that now.
In listening to the Last Indian War, I found a number of details within this book, actually filled in a lot of key details that have been missing from earlier writings. The research felt confident and comprehensive.
Chief Joseph was without question, the most memorably individual covered in this history. His name is well known but this book put away the myth and hype and provided what felt like, a very well balanced look at the man.
From where the sun now sits, I shall fight no more.
I believe this is an important story to be told. I'm already familiar with the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph saga, so I expected to learn more. I might try it again reading on paper, but as an audio, it was just too detailed and old-fashioned History Class style and I couldn't focus for more than a minute or two when I tried again and again to move forward. I returned the purchase.
As a descendant of early Northwest pioneers, much of that in close proximity to the Indian Reservations I am somewhat well versed on the Native American history of the area. This book makes the true claim that this last Indian War was in reality was a religious battle. A further salient point is the attempt to put it into context of unfolding American national history of the time. Very well worth your time listening to the account.
However no history I have read, including this one, fully reports or understand the truly strict piety of the Protestant missionaries, whether they went under the heading of Methodist or Presbyterian. The Nez Perce, as well as the Whitmans and the Cayuse, and the lower Spokanes were evangelized by pietistic disciples of the Second Great Awakening, and to some extent the burned over areas of upstate New York were transported to local reservations. That context, as well as the religious and political tensions with the Roman Catholic Black Robes provides a yet untold story of the making of Northwest history.
One problem minor problem is the white man's narration that butchers a number of both native words and other local pronunciations,
Bigotry, greed and a total misunderstanding of the people and culture is explored in this book. Nicely written and evenly narrated to give the novice of listener a well rounded view of what happened to the Nez Perce.
I struggled to complete this book. I will take responsibility for that, as I listen while working in my barn or outside on my property. I'm positive that given the proper attention the story deserves, it would be really informative.
I am maybe two hours into the book and I am taking my head phones out and not putting them back in to listen to this. Being from Northeastern Oregon, I know and have been to many of the towns, rivers, mountains and areas that are talked about in this book. Which would be a good thing, right? But it’s bad when I cannot figure out where he is talking about because his pronunciations of the names is so horribly wrong.
I think I may have heard one or two places pronounced right so far and they are things like “Clear Water” and “Lewiston,” places that you really can’t screw up. However, when the narrator butchers just about everything else, to include “Willamette Valley” and “Willamette River,” it leads me to ask how someone can read a book and mess up Willamette, a river probably in the top 20 important rivers in the US, and not to mention the objective and subject of the Oregon Trail, about which a few pages have been written. Obviously the narrator did the author a terrible injustice by not spending the hour on the phone to ensure that his pronunciations of location were correct.
The author may have written a very interesting book that was well-researched; however, the narrator most definitely destroyed any chance of this book being appreciated by someone from the region. If you are not from the region, don’t use this guy’s pronunciation of any of the locations; you’re more likely to get them right on your own than imitating his.
The book is so twisted with Nez Perce favoritism and old pioneer/soldier hatred that it makes for a very distorted history. This book is so full of contradictions that it will make your head spin. Hour after hour you will hear about the tremendous military prowess of this tribe, how laughable the performance of the US military was. How the indians were the master's of the battlefield that when they left it.. presumably out of boredom... they would leave behind only a few miserable and lame ponies. Imagine my surprise, when right in the middle of another battle full heroic military deeds of Nez Perce warriors and the US soldiers barely holding on to life. That all the sudden the war ends in with the tribes defeat....The reason given.... they lost too many warriors and horses.. Huh!
The author rails about the unfairness of the government for creating the Yellowstone national park kicking out and stealing what was basically the indian's own backyard. Yet when the Nez Perce flee thru that park, all the while kidnapping and shooting any tourist they happen upon. They get lost and force a white guy to act as their guide. Tell me, how do you get lost in your on back yard?
I have read and listen to many books on Native Indian & American history by other authors and have seen that Heroism and Villainy are not a monopoly by either side. Great historical events make much more sense when put in context from a fair and honest history. After listening to this book I still have no clue as to what this Nez Perce stuff was all about.
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