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Publisher's Summary

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Based on a rich cache of historical documents, from government and military records to contemporary interviews and newspaper reports, The Last Indian War offers a searing portrait of a moment when the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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Flavius
  • Morro Bay, CA, United States
  • 05-17-10

New Insights Into An Old Story

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Where the Set I will fight no more

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Solid story

A solid telling of important part of the history of native peoples in America. It's very detailed and informative about the players, motivations and conflicts which populated this story, for the most part.

I have only one minor issue with the author. While it's clear that European immigrants, white Americans, were clearly not covered in glory in the story, the author stops short of accepting the notion that there was anything like genocidal intent regarding American treatment of native peoples, *at any level* (that last part being the important point). Even by the most generous of definitions of genocide, that's untenable. By the more expansive definition accepted today (which not only includes killing and massacres, but also restricting movement, prohibiting lifestyle, stripping culture and imposing foreign religion, and stifling future generations), it's just flat out wrong. In the same vein, he accounts for the decimation in bison population as merely coincidental to European-American over-hunting and the commerce of exporting hides. While this is certainly a major cause of the drop, the author ignores any official government sanction, the intent of which may have been to render native lifestyles impossible, in an effort to promote agrarianism. That final result being wholeheartedly acknowledged by the author, just not as policy, either official or of the wink-wink variety. It's not a major part of the story, but just a bit odd.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well Grounded Expansion on Indian History

What made the experience of listening to The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story the most enjoyable?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

From where the sun now sits, I shall fight no more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jerry
  • United States
  • 11-16-11

A well done account of NW History

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,

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Courage

A story of Indian pride courage suffering fighting love of nation. They had a reason not to trust.

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    4 out of 5 stars

A good & informative book, but only for historians

The book is full a great information, drawn from several sources. It truly gives context for the whole war, what led up to it, and why it played out the way it did. However, the style it's written in can be a bit dry at times, so you'll only want to listen to it if you're a historian.

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A fuller history: not merely the featured characters and the war action, but the national cultural context in which it occurred.

Excellent broad view of the entire cultural landscape on which the war was conducted. This includes perceptive insights into the evolving national psyche that simultaneously demonized and mythologized the Native Americans.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Joseph is heroic, as much for his internal surrender and forgiveness as for the leadership...

This is an account of a tragic episode in American history--government broken promises and hypocrisy, courage, heart, determination, stupidity... The author seems to have done significant research and maintains objective neutrality throughout most of the telling. I have read 20+ books, watched four documentaries and one feature length film about Chief Joseph, the Nez Perce and this "war." Not all are in agreement in some of the detail. This book would be a good one to read first for context, overview and just enough detail.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I was bothered by the narrators consistent mispronunciations of places and names.

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Sad ending to a proud people.

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.

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  • B. C. Furzer
  • 07-25-16

Great story - annoying narrative!

A very well researched book for me spoiled by the lilting, camp narrative. Most unfortunate.