Polygamy: An Early American History
By Sarah M. S. Pearsall
Why this book?
Pearsall’s book is the sort that leaves a reader entertained, deeply informed, and unable to see the past the same way again. Polygamy, she shows, was at the center of the social and political systems of many Indigenous nations. As European soldiers and settlers attempted to trade with—or dominate—the people of these nations, they provoked violent reprisals. Opposition to monogamy drove Indigenous resistance movements. Europeans increasingly argued that their monogamous practices made them racially and religiously superior to the people they subordinated. The centrality of metaphors about monogamy and polygamy to American revolutionary political ideas is one of the book’s most enlightening—and entertaining—contributions in a book rich with surprises.
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