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Unsettling the West: Violence and State Building in the Ohio Valley

Early American Studies
Narrated by: James McSorley
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, American
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The revolutionary Ohio Valley is often depicted as a chaotic Hobbesian dystopia, in which Indians and colonists slaughtered each other at every turn. In Unsettling the West, Rob Harper overturns this familiar story. Rather than flailing in a morass, the peoples of the revolutionary Ohio Valley actively and persistently sought to establish a new political order that would affirm their land claims, protect them against attack, and promote trade. According to Harper, their efforts repeatedly failed less because of racial antipathy or inexorable competition for land than because of specific state policies that demanded Indian dispossession, encouraged rapid colonization, and mobilized men for war.

Unsettling the West demonstrates that government policies profoundly unsettled the Ohio Valley, even as effective authority remained elusive. Far from indifferent to states, both Indians and colonists sought government allies to aid them in both intra- and intercultural conflicts. Rather than spreading uncontrollably across the landscape, colonists occupied new areas when changing policies, often unintentionally, gave them added incentives to do so. Sporadic killings escalated into massacre and war only when militants gained access to government resources. Amid the resulting upheaval, Indians and colonists sought to preserve local autonomy by forging relationships with eastern governments. Ironically, these local pursuits of order ultimately bolstered state power.

The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press.

©2018 University of Pennsylvania Press (P)2019 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Deeply researched, beautifully written, and powerfully argued...the most comprehensive account of the American Revolution in the Ohio Valley to date." (Eric Hinderaker, University of Utah)

"There is no other work on the Ohio Valley in which colonial and Indian peoples have seemed so real to me." (The Citadel)

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