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Peter d'Errico: Book is yet another in series of genocide deniers

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment | Opinion
More on: books, genocide, peter cozzens, peter d'errico, wars

A sculpture at the Cherry Creek Encampment in Kansas, where the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre fled after being attacked by a militia in Colorado in 1864. Photo: J. Stephen Conn

The very first page of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by military historian Peter Cozzens denies the genocide of indigenous peoples in the United States. Retired professor Peter d'Errico keeps reading so you don't have to:
The first I heard of Peter Cozzens’ The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, was an ad in a literary journal, quoting S.C. Gwynne saying, “I never read…more entertaining versions” of the Indian wars.

Entertaining?! Indian wars … entertaining?? I was stunned. Who would say such a thing? But then I remembered Gwynne’s book, Empire of the Summer Moon, about Quanah Parker and the U.S. war against the Comanche. I wrote `1a critical review of that book in 2013: I found so many boneheaded errors—stereotypes and false statements about history—in the first chapter that I quit reading. Yet that book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times bestseller.

I picked up my review copy of Cozzens’ book with a skeptical eye. It fits the pattern of authors expressing “compassion” as they proceed to “balance” the story of white violence by telling us that Indians aren’t saints.

Without fail, they quickly assure us—Cozzens does this on page one of chapter one!—the whites “had not intended to exterminate the Indians.” Gwynne waited until page two to make his assertion—that the whites made “no real attempt to destroy the tribes on a larger scale.”

Read More on the Story:
Peter d'Errico: Whitewashing History, the Indian Wars and Denying Genocide: Yet Another Bad Book (Indian Country Today 2/21)

Related Stories:
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Maybe we can learn from our tragic history (12/09)
Review: Book denies genocide was behind the 'Epic' Indian wars (11/08)

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