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The Earth Is Weeping
Cover of The Earth Is Weeping
The Earth Is Weeping
The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
"Sets a new standard for Western Indian Wars history." —Stuart Rosebrook, True West Magazine

*Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History and the 2017 Caroline Bancroft History Prize

*Finalist for the Western Writers of America's 2017 Spur Award in Best Western Historical Nonfiction

Bringing together a pageant of fascinating characters including Custer, Sherman, Grant, and a host of other military and political figures, as well as great native leaders such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud, The Earth is Weeping—lauded by Booklist as "a beautifully written work of understanding and compassion"—is the fullest account to date of how the West was won...and lost.

With the end of the Civil War, the nation recommenced its expansion onto traditional Indian tribal lands, setting off a wide-ranging conflict that would last more than three decades. In an exploration of the wars and negotiations that destroyed tribal ways of life even as they made possible the emergence of the modern United States, Peter Cozzens gives us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail. He illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes and the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier and the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies.
*A Times "History Book of the Year" and A Smithsonian "Top History Book of 2016"

*Shortlisted for Military History Magazine's Book of the Year Award
"Sets a new standard for Western Indian Wars history." —Stuart Rosebrook, True West Magazine

*Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History and the 2017 Caroline Bancroft History Prize

*Finalist for the Western Writers of America's 2017 Spur Award in Best Western Historical Nonfiction

Bringing together a pageant of fascinating characters including Custer, Sherman, Grant, and a host of other military and political figures, as well as great native leaders such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud, The Earth is Weeping—lauded by Booklist as "a beautifully written work of understanding and compassion"—is the fullest account to date of how the West was won...and lost.

With the end of the Civil War, the nation recommenced its expansion onto traditional Indian tribal lands, setting off a wide-ranging conflict that would last more than three decades. In an exploration of the wars and negotiations that destroyed tribal ways of life even as they made possible the emergence of the modern United States, Peter Cozzens gives us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail. He illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes and the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier and the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies.
*A Times "History Book of the Year" and A Smithsonian "Top History Book of 2016"

*Shortlisted for Military History Magazine's Book of the Year Award
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  • From the book chapter 1

    The Plains Aflame

    President lincoln vastly understated the case when he told Lean Bear that his white children sometimes behaved badly. In the two and a half centuries between the settlement of the Jamestown colony in Virginia and Lincoln's cautionary words to the Cheyenne chief, a relentlessly expansionist white population had driven the Indians westward without regard to treaty obligations or, sometimes, even simple humanity. The government of the young American Republic had not intended to exterminate the Indians. Nor had the founding fathers simply coveted Indian land. They had also wanted to "enlighten and refine" the Indian, to lead him from "savagery" to Christianity, and to bestow on him the blessings of agriculture and the domestic arts—­in other words, to destroy an incompatible Indian way of life by civilizing rather than by killing the Indians.

    The "civilized" Indians would not live on their homeland, which the federal government meant to purchase from them at the best possible price by means of treaties negotiated on the legal premise that tribes held title to their land and possessed sufficient sovereignty to transfer title to the true sovereign; that is to say, the United States. The federal government also pledged never to deprive the Indians of their land without their consent or to make war on them without congressional authorization. To prevent settlers or individual states from infringing on Indian rights, in 1790 Congress enacted the first of six statutes collectively known as the Nonintercourse Act, which prohibited the purchase of Indian land without federal approval and carried stiff punishments for crimes committed against Indians.

    Not surprisingly, the punishment provision of the law quickly proved toothless. President George Washington attempted to intercede on behalf of the Indians, to whom, he insisted, full legal protection must be afforded, but his admonitions meant nothing to land-­hungry whites living beyond the government's reach. In order to prevent a mutual slaughter, Washington sent troops to the nation's frontier. Once sucked into the fray, the small American army spent two decades and nearly all its limited resources in wresting the Old Northwest from powerful Indian confederations in undeclared wars. That set a dismal precedent; henceforth, treaties would be a mere legal veneer to conceal wholesale landgrabs that Congress tried to palliate with cash annuities and gifts of merchandise.

    After George Washington, no president lost much sleep over Indian rights. Indeed, the executive branch led the way in divesting the Indians of their homelands. In 1817, President James Monroe told General Andrew Jackson that "the savage requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it than is compatible with the progress and just claims of civilized life, and must yield to it." As president in the 1830s, Jackson took Monroe's injunction to its harsh but logical extreme. With the authority granted him under the Removal Act of 1830, and by employing varying degrees of duress, Jackson swept the roving tribes of the Old Northwest beyond the Mississippi River. When southerners pressured him to open Indian lands in Alabama and Georgia, Jackson also uprooted the so-­called Five Civilized Tribes—­the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Cherokees, and Seminoles—­and resettled them west of the Mississippi River in Indian Territory, an unsustainably large tract spreading over several future states, which was gradually reduced to comprise solely present-­day Oklahoma. Most of the "civilized" Indians went peaceably, but it took two long and bloody conflicts for the army to dislodge the...
About the Author-
  • PETER COZZENS is the author or editor of sixteen acclaimed books on the American Civil War and the Indian Wars of the American West, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Lincoln Prize. In 2002 he was awarded the American Foreign Service Association's highest honor, the William R. Rivkin Award, given annually to one Foreign Service Officer for exemplary moral courage, integrity, and creative dissent.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 14, 2016
    In this sweeping narrative, Cozzens (Shenandoah 1862), an expert on 19th-century warfare, confronts Dee Brown's classic text, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Cozzens finds it too reductive in its treatment of the various Native American tribes involved in the bloody contests over land that raged from the 1860s until 1890. He persuasively argues that those who allied with the U.S. government and took up arms against other tribes can't be dismissed as simply greedy, and he zeroes in on issues that motivated each tribe to choose sides. After opening on the plains of Wyoming with Red Cloud's War of the 1860s, the first half of the book builds to the crescendo of Custer's "last stand" at the Little Bighorn in 1876. Cozzens tucks into this section an insightful chapter on how Native Americans and the U.S. Army both trained men to fight. The second half ranges from the betrayal of the Nez Perce in the Northwest to the bitter conflicts in Apacheria in the Southwest, concluding with the 1890 slaughter at Wounded Knee. Cozzens excels in describing battles and the people who orchestrated and participated in them, expertly weaving in the relevant politics and never shying away from the role racism played in this destructive warfare. Maps & illus.

  • Kirkus

    A sturdy overview of the Indian Wars.Cozzens (Battlefields of the Civil War: The Battles that Shaped America, 2011, etc.) turns his attention westward to the combat between invading whites and Natives along the frontier. Traditional histories set the beginnings of that conflict with the Sioux Uprising of 1862, but Cozzens starts in 1866 with the better-studied war of resistance mounted by Red Cloud. His long narrative continues to the shameful massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee a generation later, a compressed period with many set pieces, from the Battle of Little Bighorn to the murder of Crazy Horse and the Geronimo Campaign. The author covers all the ground dutifully if without much flair; this is a narrative of facts more than ideas, and it sometimes plods. Still, Cozzens is not without insight--"the Indians who had gone to war against the government had usually done so reluctantly," he writes, "and they had lost their land and their way of life anyway"--and there is much merit in having a readable history of the Indian Wars in one volume. Cozzens promises to "bring historical balance" to the story, and he does, but this mostly means demonstrating to readers that not all whites were devils and not all tribes that were not wholeheartedly in resistance were sellouts, the view we have been accustomed to since Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970). As Cozzens notes on the latter score, many Native groups saw the federal government as a reliable protector against rival tribes, and regardless, instances were few where there was monolithic opposition to the whites even within a group. Still, as Gen. George Crook noted of the Indians, "all the tribes tell the same story. They are surrounded on all sides, the game is destroyed or driven away, they are left to starve, and there remains but one thing for them to do--fight while they can." A useful one-volume history refreshingly without many bones to pick but also without much fire. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2016
    In the 16 books he has authored or edited, Cozzens has written about both the Civil War and the Indian Wars of the American West. Here he focuses on the latter, gathering up events transpiring over three-plus decades to produce a sweeping account of savage fighting that ranged from Kansas to the Dakotas, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. See a related essay this fall in the "Smithsonian".

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Jerry Lenaburg, New York Journal of Books "Cozzens does an exceptional job of examining the viewpoints of both sides, making heavy use of previously untapped primary sources... This is a timely and thorough book, presenting the story without hyperbole or histrionics of this controversial chapter in American history, providing an excellent one-volume history of America's actual longest and most tragic war."
  • Priyanka Kumar, The Washington Post "[A] thorough history of the 1860-1890 Indian Wars."
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The Earth Is Weeping
The Earth Is Weeping
The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
Peter Cozzens
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