The best books to understand the reality of the American Indian Wars

Peter Cozzens Author Of Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation
By Peter Cozzens

Who am I?

I am a retired Foreign Service Officer with the U. S. Department of State and, more to the point for the purpose of the topic at hand, the author or editor of eighteen books on the Indian Wars and the Civil War. Among them is the bestselling, multiple award-winning The Earth is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West.


I wrote...

Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation

By Peter Cozzens,

Book cover of Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation

What is my book about?

The first biography of the great Shawnee leader in more than twenty years, and the first to make clear that his misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States.

The books I picked & why

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Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

By S.C. Gwynne,

Book cover of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Why this book?

In Empire of the Summer Moon, author S. C. Gwynne offers the most exhilarating and even-handed account of the history of an American Indian tribe and its tragic clashes not only with encroaching Americans but also with other Indian peoples that I have ever read. He adroitly juxtaposes the tale of the fierce Comanches with the fate of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white captive who wed a Comanche, and her extraordinary son, the mixed-race Chief Quanah Parker, whose remarkable life exemplified the complexities of white interactions with the Indians of the West.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

By S.C. Gwynne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Empire of the Summer Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moonspans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood…


A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - The Last Great Battle of the American West

By James Donovan,

Book cover of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - The Last Great Battle of the American West

Why this book?

More books have been written about George Armstrong Custer and the iconic Battle of the Little Bighorn than any other clash in the Indians Wars for the American West. James Donovan’s account is by far the best. A Terrible Glory is a nuanced, deeply researched, and compelling narrative that deftly presents the story of the Little Bighorn, its antecedents, and its legacy through the perspective of both army and native participants.

A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - The Last Great Battle of the American West

By James Donovan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Terrible Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June of 1876, on a hill above a river called the Little Bighorn, George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. The news of this stunning defeat caused an uproar, and those involved promptly began to point fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was conveniently dead, took the brunt of the blame. The truth, however was far more complex. A TERRIBLE GLORY is the first book to tell the entire story of this fascinating battle, and the first to call upon new findings of the last 25…


Autumn of the Black Snake: George Washington, Mad Anthony Wayne, and the Invasion That Opened the West

By William Hogeland,

Book cover of Autumn of the Black Snake: George Washington, Mad Anthony Wayne, and the Invasion That Opened the West

Why this book?

The bloodiest and most decisive Indian wars occurred not in the American West but in the Ohio Valley shortly after the United States gained its independence. The little known struggles with the formidable tribes of the Midwest opened the way for westward expansion. Autumn of the Black Snake is a scrupulously balanced account of what is sometimes called President George Washington’s Indian War, enhanced with an intriguing recounting of the often dirty policies behind the creation of the United States Army. Author William Hogeland also offers engaging portraits of towering but largely forgotten Indian leaders such as Little Turtle and Blue Jacket and their peoples. Read this book before turning to the Indian Wars in the West.

Autumn of the Black Snake: George Washington, Mad Anthony Wayne, and the Invasion That Opened the West

By William Hogeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Autumn of the Black Snake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Hogeland's Autumn of the Black Snake presents forgotten story of how the U.S. Army was created to fight a crucial Indian war.

When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the newly independent United States savored its victory and hoped for a great future. And yet the republic soon found itself losing an escalating military conflict on its borderlands. In 1791, years of skirmishes, raids, and quagmire climaxed in the grisly defeat of American militiamen by a brilliantly organized confederation of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Indians. With nearly one thousand U.S. casualties, this was the worst defeat the nation would…


On the Border with Crook

By John G. Bourke,

Book cover of On the Border with Crook

Why this book?

Drawn from a 128-volume diary that Capt. John G. Bourke during his long service in the American West, On the Border with Crook is the finest first-person account of the Indian Wars for the American West written by an army participant. A highly literate and dispassionate observer, Bourke served as aide to General George Crook, himself a towering figure in the conflicts. Like his commander, Bourke was sympathetic to the native peoples and their plight. Bourke’s service took him from the desert Southwest to the Northern Plains, giving his recollections an inclusiveness that no other offers.

On the Border with Crook

By John G. Bourke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Border with Crook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 1870 until 1886 Captain John O. Bourke served on the staff of General George Crook, who Sherman described as the greatest Indian fighter the army ever had, a man whose prowess was demon-strated "from British America to Mexico, from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean." But On the Border with Crook is far more than a first-hand account of Crook's campaigns during the Plains Indian wars and in the Southwest. Alert, curious, and perceptive, Bourke brings to life the whole frontier scene. In crisp descriptions and telling anecdotes he recreates the events and landscapes through which he moved;…


The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

By Robert M. Utley,

Book cover of The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

Why this book?

The Lance and the Shield is a model biography of a native leader; in this case, one of the most storied figures in American Indian history. Utley immerses the reader in Lakota (Sioux) culture and evokes all the pathos of the enigmatic Sitting Bull’s struggle to preserve the Plains Indian way of life. Utley is the dean of Western Historians, and all his books are well worth reading.

The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

By Robert M. Utley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lance and the Shield as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chronicles the life of the famous warrior, Sitting Bull, correcting many common misconceptions about the legendary native American. By the author of The Last Days of the Sioux. 35,000 first printing. $35,000 ad/promo. History Bk Club Main. BOMC. QPB.


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