Must Read Book

White, Richard, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (1991).

Richard White’s The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 has been so successful in linking Native American history to the larger narrative of U.S. History. For too long, the rewriting of Indian history has veered between the overly simplistic stories of cultural persistence or violent conquest. White certainly builds upon many efforts to see frontiers as porous and contingent places. But he offers us the far more complex and interesting history of how Indians and Europeans together created a new and dynamic world, making the reader think through the processes of cultural hybridity. Along the way we can see these episodes of diplomacy, trade, family history, and many others as part of a multiethnic history of Early America. Yes, we have now been treated to a new cottage industry of finding “middle grounds” everywhere we look, but White located his research—very detailed research—in a specific time and place.

Recommended by David Jaffee, City University of New York

David Jaffee teaches history at City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is the author of People of the Wachusett: Greater New England in History and Memory, 1630-1860 (Cornell, 1999) as well as several articles on craftsmen, consumers, and artifacts in Early America.